thebalance.com

When it is your turn to be front and center, fear, anxiety, doubt, and even despair can loom. Unless you are a born presenter or an old pro, presenting to a group, no matter the size, can be daunting.

But that is no reason to hide in the shadows allowing a colleague to steal your thunder. You can do this, as long as you calm your nerves to let your confidence, charisma, and intellect shine through.

These five tips will help you to de-stress, so you can impress! Take your time to work on your woes and worries so when the big day comes, you will be on-the-ball with a successful performance.

Rehearse and Practice

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Just like an actor preparing for a role or a teacher preparing her weekly lesson plans, there is preliminary work that goes into doing a stellar job. Practice your presentation and hone in on the important points, cut out the unnecessary jargon, and then do it all again. If you can find someone willing to sit in on your "rehearsal," even better. Get their feedback and rework if needed.

Inc. recommends, "Write your speech rather than taking chances winging it. Try to practice where you'll be delivering your talk. Some acting strategists suggest rehearsing lines in various positions–standing up, sitting down, with arms open wide, (etc.). The more you mix up your position and setting, the more comfortable you'll feel with your speech. Also try recording your presentation and playing it back to evaluate which areas need work.

Be the Early Bird

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You don't need to further add to your stress by getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Leave the house extra-early on presentation day so you are sure to arrive at the office with plenty of time to settle in, have some coffee, and go through your notes one last time.

As Youper suggests, "(Get) comfortable with the location and the audience. Walk around, pay attention to the layout of the room, and look for things that could potentially distract you. This will help you feel more comfortable because you'll extinguish the initial tension of being in a new place. (Take) the opportunity to talk to a few people that will be in the audience, so you don't feel like you are presenting to strangers."

Remember to Breathe

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Of course, you won't stop breathing, but doing so purposefully can work wonders on calming you down and allowing you to focus. As Inc. notes, "When we're nervous, our muscles tighten–you may even catch yourself holding your breath. Instead, go ahead and take those deep breaths to get oxygen to your brain and relax your body."

Youper adds another potential breathing bummer, "When you get anxious your breathing gets faster. Progressively slowing down helps match your breathing from the start and ease you into a calmer state as the rhythm slows."

Just like meditation teaches, be mindful of your breathing until you are steady and secure. Do this at least 15 minutes before it is time to present so your mind is clear and your body is balanced.

Drink Up… Water, That Is

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It is always important to stay well-hydrated, but before you need to talk for an extended period of time, a moist mouth is a life-saver. A parched presenter is hard to swallow, so to speak.

As per Quick and Dirty Tips, "Dry mouth, also known as cotton mouth, is a very real sign of anxiety and the person experiencing it is suffering." Even if you are a bundle of nerves, you do not have to let 'em see you sweat.

Keep a water bottle by your side to refresh in between points.

Embrace Your Emotions

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Take that nervous energy and transform it into something positive. You will be excited in some way or another, so use this adrenaline rush to make your presentation electrifying.

Like Quick and Dirty Tips notes, "Getting the blood pumping sharpens your senses sand makes you more aware of what's going on around you. Use that extra energy to engage your audience, and to show your passion."

Rather than dwelling on what may go wrong, use your energy to imagine a successful presentation. As per Youper, "Visualize members of the audience thanking you, or colleagues congratulating you. These positive images help manifest a positive attitude, and that will show while you are speaking."

Calm down and get pumped up for a presentation that will prove you are one to watch.

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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

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If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.