When I was not traveling, I was working my way up in the company. I had started in October as a Technical Writer and by May I was the team’s Product Manager. I leveraged this role to travel and give presentations, attend conferences, anything to get me on another plane (even if it was to Orlando). I had decided in 2017 that I wanted to learn public speaking and how to give presentations, so I threw myself onto the stage and into the spotlight.
In May I surprised Bekah for her birthday in Spokane on my way to speaking at a Write the Docs conference in Portland, OR. It was the first time I spoke to a large audience and I was very very nervous. I barely slept for two days before and I spent a while talking on the phone to this cute guy named Matt that I’d started dating right before I went to Cuba.
Want to see how nervous I was in my presentation?
I’d like to think I got better at public speaking but I just got used to how nerve-wrecking it was. When an opportunity to go to China came up at work, I threw my hat into the ring. Little did I know what I was getting myself into.
The one time that I wished my flight was longer was during the 13-hour flight from Boston to Beijing via DC. (I thought) the trip was my dream come true: I was on a real business trip, though sitting in Economy. Yes it was a hectic, last-minute trip and I was on my own to juggle all the business strategy which made me queasy. So I was in no rush to land. When I arrived I would have to give a presentation that I hadn’t had enough time to practice to a few hundred people. I was playing a part in a big sales pitch so that my company’s partner could seal more deals.
It was completely different from the first time I’d visited China. It was a blur of business cards, expensive hotels, endless meetings, sweltering in un-air conditioned taxi’s, fancy meals, and days of conferences. I was there all on my own, giving presentations and having meetings with researchers, managers, business leaders, heads of companies I’d never heard of. I struggled to keep the names and relations straight, trying to say the right thing but make no promises, pretend I understood what they were talking about, and represent my company well. It was a crash course in how to make sh*t up really fast in front of cameras and on stage.
After a few days, I was a wreck. After 10 days, I was a mess. Poor Matt, my dear boyfriend half a world away, would wake up at 6am, or stay up until midnight, to talk to me or listen to me cry, at a loss for how to help me. I was so out of my depth and I think everyone knew it too.
Eventually it was over, and there was an upside to the trip: a few days in Korea. I made a quick detour to visit my friend Ariella, who I’d met in Sri Lanka six months before. It was a fun way to end a pretty tumultuous business trip.
Unfortunately I’d already committed myself to another speaking engagement, this time in Czechia (aka the Czech Republic). The stakes were lower with a 5 minute presentation in front of less than 100 people. Easy peasy.
Want to watch another video of me awkwardly presenting?