Month: March 2014

Five Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking

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WAR & CONFLICT BOOK ERA:  WORLD WAR I/PATRIOTISMI hate public speaking. Just hearing the phrase ” you will give a ten-minute presentation at the end of the term” come out of my professors’ mouth basically gives me an anxiety attack.

It’s funny. Growing up, I had no problem presenting a class assignment or project to a large group, but once I got to college, everything changed. Now, I get this big ball of fear in the pit of my stomach every time I walk up to the podium. My throat constricts, my head gets cloudy and I tend to stop breathing. Not a good combo.

I’m sure you can imagine how difficult it is to be a public relations major with a fear of public speaking. Whether it’s something as formal as pitching to a client or as laid back as talking during a meeting, presentations are going to be a part of my day-to-day life. And you know what? I’m somehow okay with that. I love the communications industry and I refuse to let something trivial come between me and and my career path.

As I finish up my senior year, I have come to the realization that it is possible to cope with this phobia. In fact, I’ve learned there are several practical things you can do to make the public speaking process go a heck of a lot smoother. I recently read an article from Reputation Management Associates titled “The Fear of Public Speaking” and it reminded me of how common this fear truly is. And while my presentation skills are nowhere near perfect, I am proud to say that I have come a long way from where I once was.

With that, I want to leave you with some tips that helped me survive presentations during my college career.

1. Breath. It sounds silly, right? But this is probably the best piece of advice I could possibly give you. Your brain literally cannot function without oxygen, so don’t forget to take some deep breaths before hitting the stage. It will slow your heart rate down and get your creative juices flowing.

2. Be prepared. I always find that I am most nervous for the presentations that I am ill prepared for. Don’t be afraid to rehearse your presentation from top to bottom until you’re sick of it. Practice in front of a mirror, your mom or even record yourself- this will prevent you from freezing up or fumbling over your words while you’re doing the real thing.

3. Know your key messages. If you plan on using note cards, make sure they have concise and legible talking points. You don’t want to be staring at your note card, trying to decipher between and ‘o’ and an ‘a’ because you wrote them in your own sloppy hand writing.

4. Believe that what you have to say is valuable. For some reason, we have the tendency to undermine our own knowledge. Know that you have a lot to offer, and be confident in what you have to say.

5. Stay hydrated. You’re more likely to get cotton mouth when talking in front of a large crowd, so chug a glass of water before you start talking to avoid any awkward pauses or discomfort.

Do you have any tips on how to nail a presentation? I would love to hear about them in the comment section!

14 Things Every Soon-To-Be College Grad Understands

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oregonWell, it’s almost that time. T-minus three months until I have to graduate from this comfort zone I like to call college and get a real life.

I remember starting the University of Oregon in the Fall of 2010 and thinking “June 2014 is sooooo far away; I have plenty of time to figure things out.” Psych! It really wasn’t that far away. And I don’t have much figured out. But they say that life is about the journey and not the destination, right?

Anyways, now that I’m wrapping up my second-to-last term, I am starting to look for jobs that have things like benefits, paid time off and a 401(k) plan…wut. I’m faced with huge decisions like, do I want to take some time off to travel? Should I get a job right away? Where should I move? The possibilities are endless.

I recently discovered a list of “22 Things only Second-Semester Seniors Understand” from the Huffington Post and something about it instantly resonated with me. So, naturally I was inspired to write my own list. Alas, here are 14 things I have come to realize as my college experience comes to an end:

1. You say “I think I’m having a quarter life crisis” at least once a day.

2. You actually become friends with your professors and you follow each other on twitter.

3. You know all of the bouncers and bartenders at every campus bar by name.

4. You keep telling yourself to “live in the moment,” but you’re too busy with projects, studying and applying for jobs to actually enjoy your last term.

5. You begin to realize who you will keep in touch with after graduation, and who will fall by the wayside.

6. You want to throw a brick at the next person who asks you what your plans are after graduation.

7. You have an anxiety attack every time you think about how fast time has gone, because you realize it will just keep getting faster from here.

8. Every time you check Facebook, you see another one of your high school friends is engaged or pregnant.

9. You feel old and creepy at house parties.

10. You become a pro at writing cover letters.

11. You are constantly in this weird limbo state of emotions, where you feel sad/anxious/excited/happy/proud because you have worked so incredibly hard to get to where you are, and you know it’s about to all pay off.

12. You look for ways to casually bring up graduation in conversations because it makes you feel cool.

13. Knowing that you could move almost anywhere after college is the most terrifying yet exciting feeling in the world.

14. You’re afraid of failing at life after college.

Do you have anything to add to the list? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

The Curvy Truth

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If you read my last blog post, you know that a few weeks ago I designed an infographic for a class assignment. After publishing my post on “How to Create a Killer Infographic,” I realized that I gave you all of these fabulous tips on content and design, but I didn’t explain how I landed on the topic of body image.

Whether it’s for an essay, an infographic or a project, It’s not very often that a professor relinquishes the reigns and lets his or her students write on any topic they actually want to write about, which is why I was so taken aback by the assignment. Now that I had all of this power in my hands, I didn’t know what to do with it! I had never created an infographic before, and choosing a theme that would be compelling yet informational seemed like a daunting task. I wasn’t going to settle on something that I didn’t care about just to get the assignment out of the way, I wanted to create something that would be meaningful and even educational. I wanted it to serve a purpose.

After going back and forth between a few topics and getting feedback from my friend Gianna, (I constantly annoy her with all of my questions) I took a leap of faith and committed to a topic that I am truly passionate about. Body Image. Particularly how women are portrayed in the media and how unrealistic representations of beauty affect self-esteem. Yes, I could have easily chosen a lighter, less depressing topic, but what would be the point? I have been dealing with my own body image issues since I was in the fifth grade, and it’s time to start the conversation.

81 percent of 10-year-olds have experienced a fear of being fat. Just take a second to think about that.  10-year-olds have no business stressing over stuff like this; their biggest worry should be whether or not their mom put a fruit roll-up in their lunch box, not if their outfit makes them look fat. Unfortunately, this is the age that young girls start to experience self-esteem issues relating to body image, and it often gets worse from here.

Why is society so obsessed with outward appearance? Well, there is no simple answer, but media has certainly helped shaped the definition of beauty into something that is hardly attainable for the average woman. The average US model weighs 117 lbs. and is 5’11, while the average American woman weighs 140 lbs. and is 5’4. No wonder why women feel insecure. We are inundated with images of scantily clad models, disproportionate Disney princesses and photoshopped women selling beauty products. It’s unfortunate that women spend so much time thinking about how they look when they could be (gasp!) enjoying life instead.

To further prove how narrow society’s view of beauty is, only 6 percent of fashion designs were shown on black models during New York Fashion week last year, and 82.7 percent of runway spots went to white models. What is this teaching the diverse youth of America? That in order to be considered “beautiful” you have to be skinny, tall and white? These are impossible standards for the majority of Americans to live up to, so why has it stuck?

I don’t have an answer for that. But, I have noticed that more and more celebrities are addressing the issue publicly. Some of my heroes include Jennifer Lawrence who is famous for her bold comments on the red carpet like “It should be illegal to call somebody fat in T.V.” or Ashley Benson who spoke out about a photoshopped image she found of herself. It’s celebrities like this who give me hope that our culture’s definition of beauty is slowly widening.

Ironically, this week is National Eating Disorders Awareness week, so information about body image and self-esteem has been all over the news. Even the Today Show launched a “Love Your Selfie” campaign, where the hosts revealed their own insecurities about their weight and appearance. It’s remarkable to see the Today Show hosts, who I watch daily and think are nearly perfect, talk about themselves in such a negative way.

Which brings me to my next thought, we would never call our best friend fat, so why do we think it’s okay to say it to ourselves? According to a study done by glamour.com, women have 13 negative body thoughts daily-nearly one for every waking hour. Sadly, this doesn’t surprise me. The amount of negative body thoughts I have about myself is probably double that number, and I couldn’t tell you how tired I am of not being satisfied with myself.

This type of negative self-talk can have some serious ramifications on our health, too. According to a study done at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, “women who stress over their body and diet have chronically elevated levels of stress hormone cortisol, and, as a result, may suffer from elevated blood pressure, lower bone density, higher amounts of unhealthy belly fat and even menstrual problems.” Gahh! We need to STOP being so hard on ourselves!

Believe me, I know this is way easier said than done, and I’m a walking example. I spend way too much time on my hair everyday and I refuse to go in public without a full face of makeup, but I will admit that I am getting better about how I talk to myself. And that’s a huge step for me.

Okay, I will wrap this up because I realize I have digressed. But, I have one request before I go: talk to your kids about body image! Teach them that their self-worth is not measured by how they look, it’s measured by their character and how they treat others. Stop talking about how fat you look in a swimsuit while your child is present, because they will pick up on those habits, too. And, one last thing, I challenge you to pay attention, I mean realllly pay attention to when you have negative body thoughts, and tell yourself to STOP talking to yourself that way, because you deserve better. You’re beautiful.