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  • Terry S.

Zooming In and Making Connections

I was reading at an outside table at our local Starbucks when Rachel, one of the managers, started a casual conversation with me. “Whatcha readin'?," she asked, and we began to chat. I learned that she was in college and had ambitious plans for her future. I have no doubt that she will be successful. In addition to being bright and articulate, she’s hard working and has great people skills. But Rachel also confided to me that she knows there is one obstacle in her way on the path to her professional goals: fear of public speaking. In this, Rachel is not alone.

Recently I heard an obviously bright contestant on Jeopardy tell Alex Trebek that, when he was in grade school, he was glad that his last name began with a “Z,” so that he always got called on last to give presentations. I got the impression watching him nervously recount this memory that he probably still liked to go last in that regard. I thought to myself, “Yep. Fear of speaking plays no favorites. Man, woman, young or old, very bright or less so: people of all backgrounds and abilities often fear public speaking.”

Why is this? I wish I knew all the causes. However, I do know some of the cures. I also know that more people are presenting these days-- many of whom thought they never would-- than ever before. The pandemic has forced them to present virtually. As a result, Zoom has become a household word, and though presentations have become more prevalent, they have also become even more challenging. What was once just a matter of simply presenting organized ideas to others has now become presenting organized ideas to others using technology.