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Career Colleges General Interest

6 tips for becoming comfortable with giving speeches

Jerry Seinfeld famously said, “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Are you a distance learner who falls into the category of being terrified of giving speeches in class? If so, this blog post is for you.

Even though your education is remote, you’ll likely have to give at least one or two speeches at some point. More importantly, an estimated 70% of careers require having public speaking skills. To prepare for life during and after college, you should consider getting comfortable giving speeches. Let’s dive in!

1. Get experience giving speeches

Take opportunities where you can to get experience giving speeches. If you have a team project for school, offer to be the person who presents. And if you have the opportunity to get extra credit by giving a speech, jump on it. Be sure to practice any upcoming speeches at least once or twice before giving them.

Aside from school, you can go to Toastmasters, which is a good organization where you can get some practice giving speeches. Or if you’re in a wedding, give a speech at the rehearsal dinner (if appropriate). 

2. Film yourself giving a speech

Nowadays, many (if not most) distance learners have easy access to a camera. Recording a speech and watching it can help you spot issues like:

  • Saying “um” or “like” every five seconds
  • Constantly clearing your throat
  • Shifting uneasily in your chair
  • Scrunching up your brow for most of the speech

In this world of selfies and vlogs, you may already be super comfortable filming yourself talking. If you tend to get squeamish watching a recording of yourself, this will require you to push through your comfort zone. 

Bonus tip: For best results, set up the camera far enough away so you can see your arms and legs during the speech. This can help you spot if your body language looks off.

3. Wear shoes on your hands

Not sure what to do with your hands during a speech? My high school drama teacher taught us to wear shoes on our hands during rehearsal. The idea is that you’ll become more aware of what your hands are doing when you’re in front of people. 

So, practice that big speech for class by wearing shoes on your hands. Just remember to take them off before you give the speech in front of your fellow distance learners!

4. Socialize

It’s important to be comfortable hanging out with friends and meeting new folks if you ever hope to feel comfortable speaking in front of a class. As a distance learner, you have plenty of options for meeting new people (even without going to a traditional college), such as volunteering, joining a church, or joining a local sports league.

5. Take a deep breath

If you want to appear relaxed before giving a speech, practice deep breathing exercises.

I suggest using the 4-4-8 method: Inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. Deep breathing can have a calming effect that will help settle your nerves before speaking in front of your class.

6. Get enough sleep

It’s difficult to give a speech if you keep yawning throughout it. So, be sure to get enough quality sleep, so that you can be at your best when speaking. 

Shoot for seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Preparing for a big speech the night before won’t help you do this. You’ll want to be well rested and alert before your speech.

To get quality sleep, there are basic sleep hygiene tips you should practice, including:

  • Washing your sheets weekly
  • Sticking to a regular sleep/wake time (even on weekends)
  • Turning off your phone, laptop, or TV at least one hour before bedtime (I think e-book readers like Kindle or Nook are typically OK since they’re designed to look like paper)
  • Avoiding caffeine after 3pm

Wrapping up

You may never feel completely comfortable giving speeches, but you can certainly feel less anxious about them. So, take a deep breath, go to bed early, and make sure you practice. You’ll be surprised how much smoother your speech will go.

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Career Colleges General Interest health

5 coffee alternatives to help distance learners get going in the morning

Waking up in the morning can be tough if you’re a distance learner. Between the projects, the papers, and the exams, you’ve got a lot of reasons why you may not be getting enough sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. 

If you’re not getting this amount consistently, it’s no wonder you’re waking up groggy. 

You may have decided a long time ago that coffee was the answer. Maybe you’ve never reconsidered your choice.

But coffee (especially more than four cups of it) has its drawbacks.

For instance, coffee can make you jittery, promote insomnia, and increase your anxiety. It can also lead to addiction. Plus, if you go to a coffee shop every morning, the costs can quickly add up. And if you’re like most distance learners, you don’t have cash to burn.

There has to be another way you can become more alert so that you can focus on your classes.  

With that in mind, here are a few alternatives to consider, using an acronym, NOTES. 

Get it? Because distance learners take notes. Isn’t it clever? No? Oh well, let’s dive in!

1. Nuts (eat them)

Eating a handful of nuts can help you stay full throughout the day. Nuts contain the nutrients you need to stay alert. Walnuts and almonds in particular are loaded with Omega-3, which is good for your memory and your mood. 

Having a few on-hand near your workstation can help you focus for those early morning classes.

2. Outdoors (spend time there)

It’s amazing what a little fresh air can do to wake you up. The light of the sun alone helps you be more alert after sleeping. So, take a stroll around the block, do a little gardening, or briefly visit a nearby park.

3. Tea (drink it)

Green tea, black tea, and yerba mate tea can each be a good coffee alternative. Yes, green tea has caffeine, but its energy source comes from the amino acid L-theanine. This amino acid is good for your brain and helps you wake up. 

If you prefer kicking off a hard day of classes with a tasty beverage, give tea a try. You may find it gives you a similar, but different, buzz than coffee.

4. Exercise (do it)

A few jumping jacks, pushups, sit-ups, or just running in place can all help you get going before an extensive day of classes. 

Hint: Taking breaks to do brief, moderate exercise throughout your day can give you an excuse to step away from your schoolwork. And when you get back to work, your mind is likely to be clearer.

5. Songs (listen to upbeat music)

I’m not suggesting you blare your music first thing in the morning and wake up anyone around you. But listening to upbeat songs soon after waking up can help stimulate your brain. I recommend a bit of classic rock (like “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor).

Plenty of folks like doing homework listening to these kinds of songs in the background (I knew a few in college). But if music is more of a distraction for you, try listening to it for a few minutes before you start your work.

Bonus: Splash water in your face

This worked for me in college. You’ll want to dry just enough so you’re not dripping. It can be refreshing as your damp face dries. The effect won’t last long, but it will give your brain a much-needed jolt.

Wrapping up

Coffee has helped many-a-student face the rigors of academic discipline. Fortunately, it’s not the only option available in order to get a kick of energy before starting your classes. Just remember this acronym: NOTES, which stands for Nuts, Outside, Tea, Exercise, and Songs.