Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nonverbal communication and IE

A while ago, in one of my classes, we were learning about nonverbal communication, and my teacher sent us a link to this TED Talk about it and made us email her a summary of what we found interesting about the talk.

This is what I wrote. I ended up going down memory lane, lol. (You should watch the video first. It's really interesting!)

Amy Cuddy's TED Talk was both interesting and informative about how our body influences our minds and vice versa. However, what really interested me happened towards the end of the talk when Cuddy explained why we shouldn't fake it until we make it. Instead, we should fake it until we become it, and I think that her personal story really helped make her point, because I could definitely relate to it.

For a while in high school, I decided to do Individual Events (IE) because some of my friends were doing it and persuaded me to try it out after telling me endless, hilarious stories about their topics. IE is considered a separate category in debate tournaments where individuals are given a topic and have seven minutes total to plan out what to say and give a speech about it. The judge then grades and rank people from highest to lowest in their group for each round, with the highest ranked going against each other in the end.

In my first tournament, I ranked second best in my first round. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was nervous and excited, and I guess my enthusiasm and silly speech was coherent enough to do so well overall. It probably helped that everyone else in my group were first-timers, too, and weren't as confident as me.

Because of that first round, I grew arrogant. I thought that I knew how to do IE, that I could give great speeches out of thin air. I was so so wrong, and the second round proved that. Everyone in the second round were veteran IE participants. They were intimidatingly articulate and confident. With each speaker, my self-confidence dropped further and further until I had no doubt that I would bomb my own speech. And it happened. I stopped and stuttered and hunched into myself more and more every time I messed up. It was a brutal lesson of humility.

The next round wasn't as bad as the last, but I realized that I had a ways to go to be even near as articulate as some of the veteran participants because I was still shaken from that last round and doubting myself so much. I was less confident and more hesitant in my speeches for the rest of the rounds, and it wasn't until my next tournament that I realized that the only way to get over my mental block on myself was just to fake confidence in myself until I could make it.

And it worked for a while. Until one day, I realized that I wasn't pretending anymore; I had become confident in myself again. I still had a lot to learn from my peers on how to give better speeches, but I wasn't doubting myself anymore, because somewhere along the way, pretending that I had confidence became reality, just like Cuddy described in her own story. I just wished that I knew about her two-minute technique back then, because it would have helped me get over my mental block quicker.

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