Sometimes You Have to Remember to Breathe

When my boss came to me and asked me to find a public speaking trainer, I was fine with that. In fact, I thought it was a great idea for those few people at Oneupweb who are often asked to be speakers and panelists at industry events. Little did I know that she wanted me to be in the class as well. That’s when things got tough.

Lately, I hate public speaking. I hate the idea of people looking at me as I talk, and of what must be going through their heads. In fact, I concentrate on that rather than what I’m doing, I get nervous, my face gets red, I get aware of the fact that it’s red, and it gets even redder. And lately, I’ve developed this shaky voice thing.

It wasn’t always this way.

I used to love acting and participating in group discussions. I used to love meeting new people, face-to-face. And I even had a speech class once, and I got an A. So what happened?

Now, I realize I can’t blame all of my fears on technology. But I can’t help but wonder if I’ve lost some important communication skills as I’ve begun using technology more and more to communicate. Just stop and think about that for a minute. You have to ask someone a question (perhaps it’s a question about the rate of a full page, four color ad in a print publication). Do you pick up the phone and call your advertising rep, or do you shoot off a quick email? (I bet you can guess which it is that I do).

Now I’m sure you’re going to say something like, “Sure, we use technology a lot more rather than face to face interaction. But we’re still being social. Look at Twitter and Facebook.”

And you’d be right. Humans, by nature, are social (in my opinion. I don’t know if this is a scientific fact.) And we do use technology to communicate with each other. But as I was preparing for my first speech last night, a thought crossed my mind. How much better would my communication skills be if, when I was curious about what someone was up to, I picked up the phone and called them rather than jumping on Facebook?

Maybe if I practiced speaking in my every day life, it wouldn’t seem so awkward when I stand up in front of a group of people who will be focusing on my words. Maybe then, I would remember to breathe.