Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fight Your Fear of Public Speaking

During the 10 years I have been a member of Toastmasters International, I have given many speeches and won a few public speaking awards. I have made presentations at work, appeared on radio and TV talk shows, and coached new speakers through their first few speeches. And I still have to calm my nerves before a speech.

If you sweat like a pig, have butterflies in your stomach and your hands just can’t stop shaking before your presentation, you are not alone. But don’t worry. There are a few things you can do to calm your nerves and ease your fears.

If you have to talk before strangers as a job seeker, committee head at work or community leader, put your listeners first. Instead of thinking about how you feel, focus on how you want your audience to feel at the end of your talk. As a speaker, your only goal is to effectively communicate your message (hire me, accept my committee’s findings, or listen to what my neighborhood wants).

The next time you have to talk to one or more strangers as a speaker, use some of these tips to beat back your fear of public speaking:

  1. Memorize your opening and closing lines. If you’re comfortable with how you want to open your talk and how you want to drive home your message in the end, you can focus on your delivery. Connect with your listeners with good eye contact and have a few memorable lines.
  2. Make your goal your priority. Keep your eye on the ball, the goal you want to achieve. Make sure your desire to get hired, to win over your audience or explain your point of view is stronger than your fear of failure.
  3. Visualize success. Before you enter the room, think about something that makes you feel relaxed and repeat a favorite phrase that pumps you up and makes you feel powerful. Imagine that you’ll have a successful speaking experience.
  4. Use your nervous energy to your advantage. Show enthusiasm and energy, instead of fear. To keep your nervous energy in check, inhale deeply and exhale slowly before you begin talking. Try pressing the fingertips of one hand against the fingertips of your other hand, to disperse your nervous energy.
  5. Personalize your message. Think of your presentation as a conversation where you are doing most of the talking. Personalize your language. Use the word “you” or the names of people in the audience. If you focus on your audience, not on your nerves, you can be calm, confident and courageous as you communicate your message fearlessly!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Drought, Bacon and Tofurky

Last summer, farmers battled the most severe drought in at least 25 years. The most extensive dry spell since the 1950s left farmers with less corn and soybeans to feed chickens, cows and pigs, so they cut back herds and raised the price consumers pay for beef, pork, poultry and dairy.

So, now is a great time to look for healthier, more cost-effective food choices. If your meal isn’t complete without a side of meat, there are tasty alternatives. Vegetables, beans and soy products cost less than meat and they have less heart-clogging saturated fat.

But you don’t have to go vegan or vegetarian, to save a few extra dollars in the supermarket. You can save money by:

1.     Eating a meatless alternative at lunch or dinner a couple of times a week. It will trim the fat from your budget and possibly your waist.

2.     Serving smaller portions. You don’t need to super-size everything! The right serving size of meat or poultry is about the size of a deck of cards.

3.     Try soy or almond milk, instead of regular dairy milk. I love chocolate-flavored Silk, a lactose and gluten-free soymilk.

4.     Substituting turkey bacon for pork bacon or smoked ham with Hickory Smoked Tofurky (a vegetarian turkey replacement made from tofu, but sliced to look like ham).

5.     Switching from ground beef to ground turkey or Smart Ground (a vegetable protein that tastes just like ground beef).

Don’t look at rising food prices as another assault on your grocery budget. It’s just a great opportunity to cut your intake of beef, pork, chicken and dairy products…and improve your health!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Living with a Millennial

I’m a proud Baby Boomer with a daughter who falls right in the middle of the Millennial Generation (Gen Y). My world view was formed by the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal, and major political assassinations (President Kennedy and Martin Luther King).

My daughter, born in 1989, was shaped by September 11 terrorist acts, the war in Iraq, shootings at Columbine, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube videos and the ever-present iPhone (her alarm clock and constant companion).

Although we have different communications preferences and comfort zones, we manage to peacefully co-exist and find common ground. She loves to prepare great-tasting vegan meals (by checking out online vegan recipes or putting her iPhone on the counter and reading the recipe as she cooks). And I enjoy eating her healthy dishes, more than cooking. If I’m forced to cook, I turn to a familiar family recipe that was handwritten on a yellowing and faded index card. And I don’t care what the online reviews are for my Louisiana gumbo recipe!

In high school, in the 1970s, I was a cheerleader. She ran cross-country and played soccer in high school in the early 2000s. We both majored in communications in college. My emphasis was print journalism. Her focus was on online and print media. But we are both members of Toastmasters International. My club meets at night, hers meets in the morning before 8 a.m. … Way too early!

I prefer telephone, face-to-face and email communications, while I always see my 23-year-old daughter texting and Facebook messaging.

But we share common values. We both want to save the world and express ourselves as creative, caring, tree-hugging women! Our next family trip is a wildlife safari in Osceola County!