DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a speech tomorrow in front of 50 people. This is for the closing ceremony of my summer program. Although public speaking is a fairly easy task for many, it is rather intimidating for me. I’m so scared I’ll mess up my words or start to sweat. I’m even afraid of forgetting what I have to say. Do you have any tips for public speaking? – Stage fright
DEAR SCENE FEAR: You can overcome your fear of public speaking. Start by making sure that you fully own the content that you are going to deliver. Practice a lot. Then make a short list with keywords on a note card that will help you stay on track as you speak. Before you take the stage, take three deep breaths and remember you can do it.
Think of this presentation as a service to your class and your community. When you view your appearance as a service, it can help you focus on performing the service rather than worrying about your performance. Before you speak, look at your audience. Go left to right, across all space. Smile at people when you make eye contact. Recognize that everyone is supportive of you. Notice the people smiling at you. They really want you to do a good job – I promise you that. Even if it is only for selfish reasons, people want to see and hear something good. So believe it or not, they are cheering you on! Stand with your feeling firmly planted on the ground, watch your audience, and begin. If you ever feel a little nervous, take a look at the people who had kind eyes before. Their smiling faces will help support your presentation. You can do it!
DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m next door to this boy who’s the same age as me. When we were little we would cycle around town, make lemonade stands, play soccer in the backyard, and do what little kids would do.
The problem is, we are no longer little children. My mom continues to grow our friendship, but we are two different people in two different places of life. I don’t think our priorities and our morals are the same. I feel obligated to be friends because of my mom and because he doesn’t have a lot of friends, but I don’t think it’s fair to me. I am busy with my own life, and I don’t know if I am being selfish in neglecting it. What do you think? What should I do? – Boy next door
DEAR A CTÉ BOY: Kindness goes a long way. While you don’t need to be close friends with this guy, it would be nice of you to maintain a relationship with him. Without disrupting your booming social life, consider taking some time off to check in with him. Become a good listener. Learn more about it before you erase it. If he really likes the things that bother you, tell your mom you don’t want to be associated. But if it’s mostly that he’s awkward and secluded, be kind and extend a lifeline. A little effort on your part could mean so much to him.