For most, it is a teenage nightmare. You feel your mouth go dry; your hands begin to shake. You wonder if you have something stuck in your teeth; your stomach begins to churn and you wonder if you are going to be sick, right here, right now. For some, it is exhilarating. The expectant looks turned in your direction; knowing that everyone there has come just for you. It’s public speaking and as an author, it’s something you will probably have to do at some point in your career.
A long, long time ago in a land, well, right here actually – writers wrote books. That’s what we did, that’s what we loved; after the book was finished and accepted by a publishing house we just went on to start our next brilliant piece of work and let the publishing house take care of our masterpiece. Those days are gone, my friends; we are past the day where an author’s only job was to write. Now, we travel; we talk about our books; we do book signings and readings. The days of sitting in solitude are gone; welcome to the era of the social author. We promote our novels on Facebook and Twitter; we connect with each other on Linked In and yes, we talk to each other. Of course it’s easy to talk about your writing when you are hiding behind a computer; what about when you have to get up in front of an audience and talk?
When I was in school and had to take a speech class, I would get tongue-tied. I would get so nervous that I wasn’t sure I could actually get up and do it without getting sick. I learned to get over that when I was working for Bullock’s Department Stores as a Corporate Trainer and had to get up and introduce people and talk. So how did I get over it? Well, when you are passionate about what you are speaking about, that makes all the difference in the world. When you have a purpose for getting up there and talking, when you know the people you are talking to are interested in what you have to say, it’s just not quite as frightening. You look out at all those faces, waiting for you to be prolific and instead of shaking and forgetting what you wanted to say, the words just seem to start pouring out. Now, I speak at events, I do radio interviews and television interviews; I’ve come a long way from that frightened teen who couldn’t find her tongue. It’s all about passion.
We bleed, sweat and pour our hearts into our novels. We research, we write and we rewrite until there is nothing left to add and so much we have taken away that we thought was crucial to our story. We breathe life into our plots and come to know our characters intimately. How can we NOT talk about our novel? When we were in school and had to get up and give a speech, it was most likely on a subject we weren’t sure about, something we may have had no interest in; we are sure about our novels and we are most definitely interested in the subject. The passion is there, the purpose is there and the audience is there because they are interested. It’s much easier to get up and talk when those three ingredients combine. The last ingredient I would suggest in this recipe is practice. Practice getting up and speaking in front of people. Join a Toastmaster’s group in your area. Go to a meeting as an observer and see if you can think of something to say when they give out a subject. You don’t have to speak the very first time if you don’t want to; just see what it’s about. It’s a great group and everyone is there for the same purpose; to learn how to speak, not to judge anyone else’s speech.
So the public speaking recipe for success is: passion, purpose, interest and practice. Pour them all into the pot, give it a good stir and set your audience on fire.
Have you had a good experience with public speaking? Why don’t you tell us about it?