Article an era of desocialised screen junkies

An era of desocialised screen junkies

Thoughts

As you are stuck in your digital comfort zone (so am I), you probably won’t enjoy what follows. To be fair, I hesitated writing this article because it’d make me get on the screen again after a full week spent at working on… writing articles (this is part of what I do for a living). The reason why I write this is because I want to plug off some bad habits for good. I need screen rehab.

Yes, of course, digital devices are handy and transformed our lives in some positive ways (I’ll pass on the zillions of data privacy breaches). However, as I was delightfully remote-working on a sunny terrace this afternoon, I couldn’t help but notice the sadly laughable truth: we are so overwhelmed with screens that we can’t escape from them. They’re everywhere – even dogs have them!

Smartphones, laptops, tablets, smartwatches, headphones… we’re facing a relentless shitstorm of gadgets that clearly replaced our brains and decide for us. Yes, these were invented so we create dopamine enough to never conceive leaving them too far from us.

Humans, it’s time we acknowledge it. It’s too much. It’s time we admit that we are desocialised screen junkies. We’ve enough dopamine overdose. Even Steve Jobs didn’t want his kids to get on screens!

Stats show that it sucks owning a smartphone, too. On average, Brits spend 2 hours and 34 minutes on their smartphone every day. Damn, people, do you realise how serious this is? Every day, we dedicate almost three hours of our precious time to check our notifications when we should probably use this time to do something else. Life is so short!

Although I wonder, is there any way out? How many times did I commute last month without talking to anybody? People don’t talk anymore. Well it’s not as if they were engaging in London transport either, is it? They’re busy, okay? Head down, looking at their devices. Lucky black mirrors, getting all the looks, the smiles, the attention…

If I commute twice a day five days a week, it’s a good forty trips a month with my headphones on that cut me from the outside world. Weren’t we supposedly social animals or did I miss something? Oh my, we’re actually missing out more than we think!

The global digital addiction makes me increasingly nostalgic. I was born in 1990 and I remember being super creative with simple stuff at home and outside. Today I realise more than ever that being raised in the countryside presented some benefits. Even if I couldn’t stand it for too long, it’s quiet and seems like a much healthier option than London.

In my childhood, being from the last generation born before the digital revolution, I could let my mind go. I could set up a friend meeting using a simple landline and stick to the plan. I could use the family computer for one hour every day just to save our Internet connection data. I could call instead of texting, and exchange so much more than emotionless lines. I could write letters to my friends even if I was seeing them the next day in school.

Last fifteen years though, technology made me become someone else. Like everyone, I use my smartphone for everything but the primary function of a phone: voice calls. Silly! I hear everyone say « I hate phone calls ». Duh. And texts are outdated, who uses them today? All of our interactions go through social media. Basically, we wouldn’t know how to use a classic phone anymore. What an irony!

And you’re aware of the impact of blue light on our sleep, right? The blue light emitted from our multiple screens delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increase alertness, and reset the body’s internal clock to a later schedule. The consequence is being sleep-deprived or poorly rested with a feeling of jet lag. Zombies!

Obviously, I’m not going to replay the speech about the disastrous impact of the energy being used to run our digital lives on our planet, because you know about that, right? It’s all over the news.

Considering these aspects, I do want to be better at spending time on screens. I know we can’t give up on our screens for good, they’re part of our system. But we can do better for ourselves, our health, our life, our environment.

So here’s a tip I’m willing to test.

As I need my smartphone for work, I can’t plug off during the week and need real-time checks. So starting with weekends, I’d like to build a screen routine. One half-an-hour session in the morning, same in the evening, it’s enough for what we realistically have to do on our phones. Then I can plug off for the rest of the day, relax my brain and stop wondering where is my phone when it’s actually in my hand. Ridiculous! That dopamine vicious circle. Screw being a digital junkie. Hell yes to #screenrehab.

Thanks for reading all the way.

Now I’m interested to hear from your experience, do you feel like we’re overwhelmed with screens too? Have you tried to get off your smartphone for a limited period of time? Did you feel a difference on your mood or your sleep? Share your thoughts in comments below.

Boost your public speaking confidence

Thoughts

Dreading to speak in front of an audience? Don’t worry, it’s human and it’s common. However, you’ll face this situation quite often, whether it’s at work, with clients, while networking, at an event, etc.

I’ve once feared speaking in public. But I used this fear to turn it into a mantra, repeating myself “These people are expecting you to explain them something, so now it’s your time to give them the best impression of yourself, to show them you’re confident”. This worked for me for years. See public-speaking as a positive opportunity for you to stand out from the others. You’ll only look even more professional in their eyes.

Now I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned about public speaking. Essentially, it’s important to increase your self-confidence prior to crack on using your creativity for your presentation.

I hope these tips, in two parts, will reassure you from now on the idea of standing and presenting in front of people.

Boost your confidence

Plan and prepare

To feel more confident in general, the best is to plan and prepare a maximum, to overcome any difficult situations that might shake self-confidence. A good exercise for this ahead of any presentation is to repeat in front of others and gain their feedback for areas of improvement, and plan any questions that might be asked. Most importantly, taking control of unknown situations will reduce the fear of failing and help you be more confident in every situation.

Know your subject inside out

Learn your subject 100%. Research, cross-reference, ask the others some feedback, verify your sources. There are so many possibilities to learn and knowing your subject inside out will make you feel more confident. You don’t need to learn your subject by heart but show others your passion about it will increase your credibility.

Be positive

Chase the negative thoughts away for good. Easier said than done, I know… However, here’s a little task to help you be more positive about yourself: on a piece of paper, list all your strengths and successes and learn from your weaknesses and mistakes. What worked well? What needs to be improved in the future? Also, what about writing one thing per day that made you smile or that you’re really proud of, or perhaps a compliment? Compile up this list somewhere and read it some time to time, it’ll give your self-confidence a boost and make you more generally positive and ready for the next day.

Find your role model

Find a person who has a lot of confidence and you’d like to mirror, observe how they act and speak in public. How does he/she behave? It can be someone in your family, a friend, a leader or a celebrity. Also, generally, being surrounded by confident people helps increase your self-confidence.

Be assertive

Always believe in yourself, stick to your principles, accept who you are and stand for yourself is what assertive means. If you believe the right thing to do is to change your mind and not getting influenced by other people, then do. Assertiveness comes naturally with better self-confidence.

Keep calm

There’s usually a link between confidence and calmness. Preparing, anticipating situations will help you keep in control and not feeling stressed. However, don’t worry if anything doesn’t go entirely to plan in a presentation. For example, if you talk through a slide early. The audience won’t know this, so keep calm about it, or just make fun of it. It will only make you human and establish a connection with your public.

Avoid arrogance

Don’t feel or act superior to others. Nobody’s perfect, everyone makes mistakes, and there’s always something to learn from it. Give others credit for their work, use compliments, be courteous and polite. Also, show a genuine interest in what others are doing by asking questions and getting involved.

Develop your self-confidence skills

Ultimately, when you start applying some of the previous tips, your self-confidence will increase. You can also learn from various sessions on time management.

Boost your presentation

Fuel your mental engine

Eat healthily: dopamine helps, and make sure to include proteins in the meal or eat before you need to be at your best. But don’t wait until the last minute to eat.

Exercise before a speaking event

Do some work out to burn cortisol (and then reduce stress) before your presentation.

Don’t overload your slides

Minimize the content on your slides and make your font size double the average age of your audience. A slider should always act as support.

Anticipate dysfunctional equipment

Any « what ifs » related to equipment fails might pop in your mind and can be a source of anxiety. Find alternatives for presenting your speech if anything was to not be working correctly.

Establish a pre-routine

Try to center emotionally, walk through the room ahead of time to check everything (i.e. microphone levels). Tell yourself a positive stance (that “mantra” you created for yourself), breath and talk slowly.

Don’t do your prep onstage

Don’t wait until you’re on stage to check everything, but do all this ahead. If something fails, smile and look confident while you (or others) take care of the issue.

Share at least one thing no one knows

Find a surprising fact related to your topic that will retain your audience’s attention and that they’ll want to share about afterward.

Benefit the audience instead of « selling »

Thinking in terms of sales adds pressure to what’s already stressful. Ensure the audience benefits from what you say. When you help people making their professional or personal lives better, you’ve done all the selling.

Share a genuinely emotional story

Tell a story and let your emotions show. When you share genuine feelings you create an immediate and lasting connection with your audience.

Pause for 10 seconds

After 10 seconds of silence, even the people texting can’t help looking up. When you start speaking again, the audience assumes the pause was intentional, and that you’re a confident and accomplished speaker. Also, it helps you with gathering your thoughts.

Give the audience something to take home

Provide something specific that the audience can do almost immediately. Every audience appreciates learning a tangible way they can actually apply to what they’ve learned in their own lives. For example: « Today, let’s think about an employee who enjoys public speaking and ask him tomorrow about… »

Answer questions

That means someone is listening! The best presentations should feel like conversations, so never ignore that opportunity to foster that sense of interaction.

Ask a question you can’t answer

Asking questions to engage the audience usually feels forced. Instead, ask a question you know the audience can’t answer and say « That’s okay. I can’t either ». Explain why and talk about what you do know. Most speakers have all the answers. The fact that you don’t and are willing to admit it not only humanizes you but makes the audience pay greater attention to what you do know

Don’t read your slides

Your audience should be able to instantly scan your slides. If they have to read them, you might lose them. And if you read the slides to them, you’ll definitely lose them. Your slides should support your points, not be the point.

Focus on earning attention

Make your presentation so interesting, entertaining, inspiring that people can’t help but pay attention. It’s your job to make them want to listen.

Always repeat audience questions

It helps you understand the question fully, but also because not everyone in the audience may have heard it the first time.

Always repeat yourself

Your audience will hear half of what you say and filter that through their own perspective. Create a structure allowing you to repeat and reinforce key points. What you repeat has a greater chance to be remembered.

Always run short

If you have 30 minutes, take 25. If you have an hour, take 50. It gives time to remove necessary equipment if any next presentation, and/or take time with your audience.

I hope these tips will make you enjoy public-speaking more and be a shining star in front of your audience!

And don’t forget to SPEAK UP!

Why are some people more creative than others?

Thoughts

When you google “how works creativity”, the first explanation given is “creativity is characterized by the ability to perceive the world in new ways”. Are we all able to see the world differently? How many people are concerned? Does it come from an extraordinary ability, a gift? This article highlights the process of creating and expose the reasons why certain people have more creative ideas than others.

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Audrey Langevin

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I’m Audrey, a French artist in freelance with a comprehensive in-house & agency five-year experience – and a generous dose of creativity!

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