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Speaking Out Loud

MY ITAN SNIPPETS

A three-step guide to mastering the art of public speaking

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen.” I look up from my seat to see a little girl on the pulpit,

“My name is Tolulope Ogundipe,” She continues,

“And my memory verse is taken from John Chapter 1 verse 1.” I shift a bit in my seat, even two rows away, her anxiety is palpable from here (keep going kid, you can do it),

“It says, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with dog…” (uh oh), she pauses for a brief moment noting her error, the congregation starts clapping for encouragement (like that ever helps),

“It says…” she backtracks a bit, trying to project her voice over the applause,

“In the bennigning was the Word…” (Oh snap, another error, here it comes),

“…and the Word was with dog…” (two blunders within the space of three seconds, that’s gotta be some sort of record), the microphone amplifies her quivering voice,

“My name is Tolulope Ogundipe…” (Here come the waterworks),

“My memory verse is taken from…” she bursts out crying (yup, it literally ended in tears) and was led off the stage by an usher, and the ambient applause of the congregation.

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

At some point in our lives, we’ve been either of the two from this story — the toddler shaking in her boots on stage, or the congregation offering the little encouragement we could during the speech.

According to the eighth edition of Hamilton’s book, it was estimated that 75% of all people experience some level of glossophobia (a fancier term for ‘speech anxiety’) while on stage.

Think about it, how many times have you chickened out of giving closing prayers or leading your school’s assembly? I bet a bottle of Pepsi it outweighs the number of times you’ve said yes (and if it didn’t well, good for you).

However, be it being bold enough to give an impromptu speech, Bible recital, or defend a research topic, the benefits of knowing how to speak publicly are innumerable, and should, therefore, be learned by everyone.

On the latest session of Ìtàn, national-renowned public speaker, business facilitator, and CEO of Starbor consulting—Daniel Otabor, put us through the three-step-process essential to mastering the art of public speaking…

First things first

“Public speaking is not a career. It is a skill you develop to make you a better communicator, a better leader, and advance whatever product you sell or service you render.”—Daniel Otabor (The Art Of Public Speaking)

If you happen to have been thinking, “Why do I need this? I’m just 10.” or “I don’t intend on being a public speaker. There’s no point knowing this.”

Here’s a gentle reminder that Tolu was a five-year-old who probably didn’t even know what it meant to be a ‘public speaker’.

My point; public speaking isn’t a career first but a skill, one that’s blind to age, sex, religion or status, and like most skills, one that can be taught and learned by anyone.

As long as you have life in you, you are qualified to speak in public.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to the three Rs of speaking out loud…

  1. Research: What to say

“It is always better for you to have a lot to say and little time than you have a lot of time and little to say.”

Whenever you’re given the opportunity to speak in front of a group of people, saturating yourself with knowledge on the given topic is imperative. You should always do your absolute best to study to face questions.

In addition to researching your topic, here’s a checklist of other factors to take note of prior to presenting:

  • Your audience; who would you be speaking to? (a group of college students, an elderly home, a law firm…?). Knowing your audience ahead of time gets you prepared for your mannerism of presentation.
  • Your outfit; what is morally acceptable in the area/venue/event? No matter how many times we try to deny it with the ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ ideology, humans are visual creatures by default. Your dressing informs the kind of example you’re trying to project. (besides it’s hard to take you seriously with the polka-dot hat and striped suit…talking to us about organization? How about you start with your wardrobe Mr. Speaker?).
  • Your tools; this involves knowing what activates your ‘speaker’ element (a whiteboard, slideshow, practical session…?) and comparing it with what would be made available to you on the day (before preparing a 10-minute slideshow, do ensure you find out if the venue is enlightened — literally).

2. Rehearse: How to say

“Make your message a part of you. Talk about it every chance you get.”

Practice! Practice! Practise!…

In front of a mirror,

With a voice recorder,

Amongst a group of friends,

At a family gathering…

Talk about your topic so much that it becomes a part of you (and everyone else you’ve practiced with).

In addition, you don’t have to wait till you’re invited as a speaker before being intentional about building your skill.

“You have to learn public speaking gradually. You’re not going to learn in a day…a week…a month. Love to study, read, and attend. You cannot give what you don’t have.”

Start with simple steps — volunteer to lead prayers in your place of worship, be vocal during the QnA session of an event (or a class), introduce guests at a small gathering — with time, you’ll find out that it’s the little drops that make an ocean.

3. Reveal: Say it

“If you have something great to say, and you understand you have something great to say, and you have practiced well enough, just open your mouth and allow the words to come out.”

A few pointers when on stage:

  • Appreciate people; (…my panel of judges, honorable time keeper…was a subtle lesson), be vocal with your gratitude attitude by thanking those who gave you the opportunity to speak, and your wonderful audience for being present.
  • Smile; humans aren’t generally horrible people (if you think otherwise, you’re probably one of them). Remember that the aura of the room is mostly dependent on you; what you give is, most often, what you get, and the fastest way to alleviate tension is by flashing those pearly whites of yours. (Do ensure they’re this hue before getting up there).
  • Stories are your friend; I know I speak for most humans when I say we remember stories (and experiences) more often than we do facts. I mean, it was a lot easier for me to relate to ‘Some Lovers Try Positions That They Cannot Handle ’ than the one-paged text listing the order of carpal bones (three years down the line and I still remember). Always remember, good stories are key to livening up any speech.
  • Make eye contact with the friendlies; quit focusing on the dude who looks like he’s had lemons for breakfast, instead connect with the friendly faces in the crowd to alleviate whatever tension that might have been building up.
  • Remember to breathe; this isn’t a rap contest, but simply an avenue for you to project knowledge to the ones around you. Speak naturally by breathing calmly.

You’ve done your research, you’ve rehearsed the heck out of your topic, well, now’s the time to get on that stage and say it!

The Bane Of Public Speaking

“It’s human nature to want to be accepted. Overcome stage fright by just continuing to speak.”

Some sort of fear has always been the limiting factor to growth. In the case of public speaking, it’s called stage fright.

Nevertheless, like every other form of fear, the only way to silence stage fright is by being consistent (with speaking), and continuing to just do it afraid;

Your first speech would most likely suck, but rest assured, your tenth attempt would be better than your fifth, and your hundredth would surpass your first by a long shot.

Keep learning from every single attempt you make and continue to take steps in growing your skill, remember, it’s all a learning experience.

The point is to never stop speaking, as earlier stated, it’s the little drops that make an ocean.

Your words have the power to transform lives,

You’re worthy of being heard;

There’s so much within you,

So much that’s eager to break forth,

So go on and give yourself an outlet,

Go on and begin your journey…of speaking out loud.


Speaking Out Loud was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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How to Find Clarity in Your Life If You Are Feeling Lost in Your 20s.

Start by avoiding these three things.

Photo by Jonathan Rados on Unsplash

“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost.” ― Erol Ozan

The problem 20’s kids have is they want to have something fast and they want to have it now.

Our 20’s is the best time to waste anything you can think of in life. Time, money, energy, heart, brain, and body we all waste it in our 20’s and no one is an exception to this. We waste them in the hope that we can always get them back. And this is what brought about the saying fail fast and learn fast.

But there’s a problem with this? we hardly learn in our 20’s because we are short-sighted and this is why we make the same mistake over and over again.

The law of short-sightedness

It is in the animal part of your nature to be most impressed by what you can see and hear in the present — the latest news reports and trends, the opinions and actions of the people around you, whatever seems the most dramatic. This is what makes you fall for alluring schemes that promise quick results and easy money. This is also what makes you overreact to present circumstances — becoming overly exhilarated or panicky as events turn one direction or the other. Learn to measure people by the narrowness or breadth of their vision; avoid entangling yourself with those who cannot see the consequences of their actions, who are in a continual reactive mode. They will infect you with this energy. Your eyes must be on the larger trends that govern events, on that which is not immediately visible. Never lose sight of your long-term goals. With an elevated perspective, you will have the patience and clarity to reach almost any objective. Robert Greene.

The good thing is that the better you are able to understand your weakness, and become aware of the situation you find yourself, the better it is that you won’t fall into the trap of short-sightedness most people experience in their 20’s.

What to avoid

Chasing Money

“We spend all our youth chasing money, and when we attain it, we spend all our money chasing youth.” — Coleen Goh

It’s easy to see a 50 or a 60-year-old man driving a Lamborghini or Mercedes Benz and tell yourself you want to drive that in your 20’s. However, what you are not aware of is how long it took them to work to be able to afford those cars.

But because you are in your 20’s, and your perspective is short-sighted, you opt-in for chasing money here and there in the hope of getting an expensive car.

Making money is important given that we live a society in which it is needed for nearly every facet of life. But we must remember that money does not necessarily equal value.

If there’s anything your 20’s should be used for, it should be for learning and building skills. Or better still, stack different skills that you can use to provide value in the real world.

In our 20’s, we are always looking for the next best thing to do, call this the grass is always greener syndrome. We chase the next best thing in the hope that it would bring us the lasting happiness and freedom we deserve only to get it and find that it doesn’t bring us any fulfilment.

This One Syndrome Is What’s Affecting You From Attaining The True Freedom You Deserve.

Understand that the most pleasurable things in life occur as a result of something not directly intended or expected.

You need to live your 20s with a mantra of “work to learn and not work to earn.”

Our society teaches us the latter and not the former. Do well in your exams, have good grades, get a high paying job and you are free. But in the real sense, it doesn’t work like that.

Make no mistake: I am not arguing that you shouldn’t make money in your 20s — you should and you need to. The argument is that if your only goal is to make money, it’s likely that you’ll miss out on opportunities to make valuable experiences.

I studied chemistry in my undergraduate days only to finish school and couldn’t get a job. Not until I started learning different skills before I begin to see a slight change of direction in my life.

I started with writing, then online business. Later on, I started learning marketing and philosophy while learning a new language as well. All these might not fetch me money now, but they are skills I’m willing to learn for the long run because with them is how I can create something of value.

Skills, skills, skills and more skills learn a lot of them in your 20’s.

Excessive pleasure

“The best thing is to possess pleasures without being their slave; not to be devoid of pleasures.” — Aristippus,

This is the bane of all good looking human being in their 20’s.

We all partake in excessive pleasure in our 20s. Why? Because in our 20’s there’s always a point to prove to our peers.

I remember a time I drank to stupor one Sunday while I was to resume for an internship job on Monday. I drank so much to the point that I couldn’t do any work the next day and almost lost the internship job.

Party and have fun in your 20’s but when it’s excessive, it hinders your growth. We get addicted easily in our 20’s because of the cheap dopamine we get while doing stupid and crazy things.

The more you learn to cut down on your excessive pleasure, the better you find clarity with your life.

Live your life like its the only one you get, balance between grinding, building and chilling to live your best life. — Marq Jeffries.

Because our lives still lack meaning and a sense of purpose in our 20’s, we distract ourselves with pleasure. And Viktor Frankl put it best when he said:

“When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.”

As humans, we love pleasurable activities because of the dopamine effect it has on us. But what happens when we bask in excess of pleasurable activities? we get derailed from our goals.

Too Much Pleasure Is Why You Aren’t Achieving Your Goals.

It’s human nature to gravitate towards pleasure and seek to avoid pain. In other words, you will make most of your decisions based on acquiring pleasure in your 20’s while at the same time trying to avoid pain. This works well at times, however, at other times, it will actually work against the goals and objectives you are trying to achieve.

Understand that to have a deeper level of pleasure, we have to learn to limit ourselves writes Robert Greene.

Have fun but make sure it doesn’t derail you from your goals. Balance as Marq Jeffries said is key.

Excessive pleasure above all is a terrible teacher because the most significant lessons we learn in life are rarely received during times of pleasure. Instead, they are born out of pain. I am not contending that we should seek pain in our lives. But I am contending a life lived chiefly for the pursuit of pleasure, will usually seek it in all the wrong places writes Joshua Becker author of The More of Less.

The time you use to numb yourself with alcohol can be used for practice. The time you spend binge-watching Netflix all day can be used for improving an area of your life. The time spent on scrolling endless feeds on social media can be used for deep work.

How much pleasurable distraction you are willing to give up determines how far you can go in life.

Relationships

One of the mistakes we make in our 20’s is that we think we are ready for a relationship. But the truth is we aren’t ready at all.

To be fair, relationships will only complicate your life in your 20’s most especially when you don’t know what you are doing.

You think you are in love in your 20’s but what you are experiencing is definitely lust which is normal. The fact that you aren’t sincere with yourself is why you tell yourself you are in love with your partner.

“That’s one of the first things that come out of young people’s mouths when they’re in love. FOREVER. And that’s cool, it’s all good until you get old enough to realize what forever is.” ― Ice-T.

Our life probably has no meaning or sense of purpose in our 20s because we still lack direction. And yet, we somehow think relationship is the next thing on the list for us.

In your 20’s, focus on yourself, take care of yourself, learn a lot of skills as much as you can, cut down on excessive pleasure and build yourself up. And as you grow older, and find a sense of fulfilment in your life, then you can start building up a relationship.

Relationships that last long are relationships where both parties have a sense of purpose and fulfilment in their lives. By these, your partners’ problem won’t spill into your own life because both parties know what they want.

I had a friend back then in my university days, everything about him was always his girlfriend. Last time I saw him and asked after his girlfriend, his answer was we are no longer together.

Everything in life has its own time. There is time for learning, there is time for pleasure, there is time for relationships. Jumping a step in other to quickly get to the top will only bring you down to what you had thought you jumped or skipped.

Stop wasting your 20’s on a relationship when you haven’t figure out your own life. Work on yourself and as you grow older and become wiser, you can start building a relationship.

Success to every 20s kids looks linear. But in reality, it doesn’t happen like that. However, if you are able to overcome your short-sightedness and put long term thinking ahead of you, you will find clarity and achieve success in no time.


How to Find Clarity in Your Life If You Are Feeling Lost in Your 20s. was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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