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DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a big work conference coming up, and I am worried about my public speaking skills. Normally, I am pretty calm in social situations and I get along with everybody well, but whenever it comes to presentations or big meetings, I get really anxious.
I just got promoted, so I had to prepare a speech at the last minute, and I do not want to mess up in front of my peers and higher-ups. The conference is in a few days, and I am struggling to keep my cool. I am distracting myself so I do not panic, but I also want to go over the speech as much as possible so that I am prepared. Do you have any advice for how I should prepare to go into this conference or how to keep my composure when I deliver the speech in front of hundreds of people from my company? — Speech Stress
DEAR HARRIETTE: You are doing the right thing by practicing your speech and becoming familiar with what you have written. On the day of the speech, you should be able to “own” it — meaning you should know what you are saying and merely refer to text infrequently rather than needing to read from the page. To get your nerves together, take three cleansing breaths before you go into the room. Consciously tell yourself that you are in control and that you are ready. Think about who will be in the room; your colleagues will want you to do a good job. Remember that you are presenting to a supportive audience. Look out at your peers and make eye contact with one of your personal confidants. That will give you positive energy as you begin. Then go for it!
DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband recently crashed his car while running a stop sign, and I’m finding it difficult to cope with the situation. The worst part is that we were so close to paying off the car, and now we have to deal with the financial repercussions of the accident. I can’t help but feel upset and frustrated, especially considering the progress we had made in paying off the car. It feels like a setback we didn’t need, and I’m struggling to find a way to address my emotions without making the situation worse. I want to support my husband during this challenging time, but I can’t shake the disappointment and stress surrounding the financial implications of the accident. How can I communicate my feelings without causing more strain on our relationship? — Crashed Dreams
DEAR CRASHED DREAMS: Tell your husband that you need to talk to him, and acknowledge that you need to get something off your chest. Tell him how hopeful you had been that the car note was almost paid off and how stressful it is that your debt has amplified. Point out that you don’t want to make him feel worse, but you are upset and worried about the future. Ask him how he plans to pay for the damages and move forward. What steps are required to get the family out of this hole? Press him to step up and work to figure it out.