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Is cursive writing important for your career?

Cursive writing seems to be becoming a lost art. Does that matter?

We used to call it script, rather than cursive. In printed form, it’s known as italic. Either way, is this fancier form of writing important? Does formal handwriting matter to one’s career?

 “Write it again until you write it right.”

I can still remember my fourth grade teacher harping on pupils to practice penmanship. She’d hand out sheets of lined newsprint paper and call out words for us to write in cursive.

I shudder to think of how many trees were felled, as my classmates and I gripped #2 pencils and struggled to make perfectly rounded cursive letters. Eventually, as we mastered the art of penmanship, we went on to practice with ball-point pens. That lesson plan has been all but dropped across the board.

It seems cursive writing has fallen by the wayside.

In fact, handwriting has mostly vanished, as people tap out texts, zip off online messages, and type email missives. Plenty of financial, legal, and other official documents even offer online electronic signature capabilities.

Does anyone hand-write anything anymore?

Is this a script for disaster?

Does cursive writing matter? Clearly, it does.

Consider the few items we actually sign by hand these days: credit card transactions, personal checks, job applications, and business letters. We pick up pens to sign our driving licenses, tax returns, home mortgages, car loans, title transfers, and other critical documents. It seems that a personal, unique, and identifiable signature is somewhat important under such circumstances.

Printed letters are simpler to forge.

Recently, while standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles facility, I was shocked to overhear a teenager complaining that he didn’t know how to sign his name in cursive.

“Can’t I just print it?” he asked the clerk behind the counter.

No matter what career field a person might choose, the ability to pen a professional signature seems essential. An autograph need not be neat and tidy (or even legible), but it must still be signed. Can you imagine completing and submitting a job application without a signature at the end?

Perhaps it’s too soon to scratch cursive writing off the script, after all.

Adapted from public domain artwork
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Just cleaned out my office. You’d be amazed what I found.

My office can hide a multitude of things. Miscellaneous items seem to find their way into the crowded space, almost as if they crept in on their own.

This morning, I gathered enough gumption to tackle the task of sorting through my office. I sorted all of the contents of the desk, cupboards, and shelves. I tossed several items into the trash and stowed others in their rightful places.

(The file cabinets will have to wait for another day.)

In the process, I found all sorts of intriguing things.

4 software CDs for early-generation digital cameras I no longer own
4 neon glow sticks (still in the original packaging)
3 tubes of antibacterial hand sanitizer
3 software CDs for wireless modems that are long gone
2 plastic Hawaiian lei party necklaces
2 pairs of eyeglasses from old prescriptions
2 Happy Birthday gift bags
2 cinnamon votive candles
1 tattered clipboard
1 purple Yahoo! journal and pen (brand-new)
1 photo editor’s promotional scale wheel
1 package of Easter stickers
1 Milky Way bar
1 Kentucky Derby Loser’s cup
1 DVD children’s game
1 cell phone carrier (with belt clip)
1 bag of Christmas pot pourri (still sealed)
1 ancient roll of unopened LifeSavers

Maybe I just completed my holiday shopping. (OK, kidding.)

Adapted from public domain artwork
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10 tips for de-stressing public speaking

Are you glossophobic? That’s the fear of speaking in front of an audience, and scores of people have it. Call it stage fright or social anxiety, if you will. Glossophobia is a genuine concern for countless individuals, and this fear can be a serious stumbling block for career professionals.

How can you overcome a fear of public speaking?

Try these 10 tips for stress-free delivery of presentations before groups. Who knows? You might just discover your own freedom of speech.

1. Play to the mirror first.

Practice is essential, so why not start with a friendly listener? Start small. Talk to the mirror before you meet the microphone. Watch your facial expressions, and test your timing.

Like singing in the shower, lecturing the looking glass is an excellent exercise to eliminate stage fright.

2. Rehearse with a trusted audience.
Next, enlist a few confidantes to listen to your lecture. Gather a couple of friends or family members in a comfortable spot to hear your dry run.

3. Memorize your introduction.

The least stressed public speakers are always well prepared. Write out your speech. Transfer it to an outline, and commit the first few lines to memory. Once you get those out, you will be rolling.

4. Get plenty of rest.

Fatigue exacerbates nervousness, particularly for glossophobic individuals. Be deliberate about resting up as much as possible the night before your speech. Fresh and energized, you will be best able to pull it off with poise.

5. Dress for confidence.

Fussy clothing makes public speaking more nerve-wracking than it has to be. Skip jangling bangle bracelets, wiggling watches and other annoying accessories. Wear a tried and true outfit that makes you feel professional.

6. Carry an outline.

Although corporate executives, politicians and celebrities often deliver speeches from full manuscripts or teleprompters, many speakers prefer to work from basic outlines or index cards. Print content clearly in a large font. Don’t forget your reading glasses, if you need them.

7. Make your nerves an ally.

A little stage fright can actually be a bonus, if the audience perceives it as animation or enthusiasm. Seasoned speakers learn to channel those upfront nerves into an energetic asset.

8. Don’t picture people unclothed.

An old wives’ tale insisted nervous orators could banish their fears by imagining their audiences were naked. Has this ever worked for any scared speaker? Such pornographic ponderings probably precipitated more blushing, rather than calm demeanors.

Here’s a better approach. Focus on your content, rather than the audience’s apparel or imagined lack of it.

9. Pick visual foci.

In fact, many public speaking fears can be minimized when presenters simply look over listeners’ heads. Select a spot on the far wall, and glance there as often as possible.

Veteran speakers excel at eye contact, choosing key audience members for nods and glances. But nervous novices may do better to look more generally and avoid faces, if this improves their comfort levels while speaking.

10. Avoid over-thinking your presentation.

Giving a public speech is a necessary skill in many career endeavors and even in extra-curricular, church or community involvements. You may be tapped to make a toast at a wedding or a coworker’s retirement party. Perhaps you will be asked to deliver a eulogy for a friend or family member someday. Maybe you will join a committee or become a board member and be called upon to present a proposal.

Read: Wedding hospitality: 10 tips for making terrific toasts

It’s not a talent show, so it’s important to keep from over-analyzing the process. Too many mind games can only add to your stress, if you are already nervous about taking the podium.

Just take a deep breath, and go ahead. Try to speak in a low and confident tone with a tempo that feels considerably slower than conversational. Anxious public speakers naturally speed up, so you may be surprised how quickly you finish your presentation.

Look up, smile proudly and tuck those notes away. You did it.

Adapted from public domain artwork

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