Top 10 Socialskills tips

Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure. Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’ Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience. Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people. If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed? ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’ It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true. Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!” Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’. Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech. However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out. Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2] One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation. In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand. Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience. Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker. Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty. To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room. With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought. Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

Mirror people’s emotions when you’re having a hard time connecting with them.

I find it difficult to connect with new people but I’ve found that they generally tend to respond better to me when I match their emotions. They had a really awesome weekend with family? Be excited. Did their boss say something really offensive or gross to them? Be outraged along with them. People tend to like those similar to them but at a deeper level, it shows that you’re engaged and that you care about what they have to say. That being said, don’t go overboard and break a chair when they’re upset over something and don’t jump up and down when they tell you they had a nice weekend. Match their energy, even fake a little, and you’ll find conversations between the two of you can grow to feel more natural over time.

Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Practice Algorithms and Data Structures

The first thing when you start learning a programming language is to learn its syntax. Most of the languages like C, C++, Java, etc have similar syntax. So once you learn any one of these languages it’s easier to get a grip over others. After knowing the syntax the next task is to develop the programming, that is building logic and understanding for a given problem statement. So in order to arrive at the solution, you will need a few steps and we call these steps an Algorithm. We then convert the algorithm into code. Sometimes when you write a code, it may not always be the correct way. Here along with the right output, the way you write the code also matters like the compactness, accuracy, speed efficiency, memory occupancy, etc. So you need to solve some existing algorithms. If you open any algorithm book, you have the searching and sorting techniques, so refer to the first. Also do practice Data structures like linked lists, trees, etc since there are few algorithms that work with these data structures.

Try out other people’s code

It sometimes so happens that the code you have written is right but there may exist a simpler version of the same so it’s a good practice to try different codes. Reading different codes will expand your creative skills as it will give you a new way of writing code. Here the syntax and output remain the same only the code will be different. Eg; go to GitHub and try different codes.