Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Writers Terrors - Public Speaking, Oh My!

You're a writer.

You write.

But, by now it should have occurred to you that you do much more than simply write, in fact, you must do much more.  You can't just write a book, then sit back, hide in your office and wait for the money to come pouring in in adulation of your wonderful written work.

Doesn't work like that.


Okay, so here it is, the plain fact of the matter is, introvert or not, shy or not, positively phobic about public appearance or not, there'll come a time when you, as writer, will have to face the public.  It could be a speaking engagement, attending a conference, a book signing, or even perhaps leading a writer's workshop of some sort.

All of that entails public speaking, nervousness and the elephant in the room.

What's the elephant?

Simple, your extreme aversion to public speaking. Perhaps even terrors you experience when torn from your writer's desk to fact the public.

How to conquer your elephant?  Well, it takes determination, patience with yourself as you practice and a bit of sense of humor helps.

Remember those people you're going to interact with, whether in a small group, a large one, or one-on-one, actually WANT to talk to you, to hear what you have to say.  You're a writer, they think that's cool.

Think of it this way. You won't die because you speak in public, nobody is going to fling gorilla poo at you. Godzilla isn't going to storm the room/convention/college/library/whatever and start throwing people around like paper dolls. And, as a writer, this part of your job.

Be positive with yourself - and ultimately with your 'audience'.  Know what you're going to talk about, what makes you comfortable. Not by rote or word for word, but in a general, friendly sense. When you're in your writing zone what makes you really comfortable?

Talk to friends to get ready, talk to yourself in the mirror to get a sense of how you appear and perhaps how you can drop your shoulders or smile more to appear more relaxed. The kicked-back writer. Don't be hyper-critical of yourself, just give yourself a few easy notes that will help smooth things along and make the public speaking thing a bit easier for the writer you are.

If you're really nervous and it's your first time, you might even let people know that.  Make light of it, tell them you're a writer not a speaker and promise you won't stammer too much and if you do anyway they'll forgive you.

Stretch yourself, throw yourself into what is not your comfort zone and make it such. Practice really will help. I promise there's no tiger hiding in the tall grass, no gorilla waiting to rip your head off.

Most people are kind to public speakrers, well aware of how little they, themselves would like to be up there while looking forward to what the writer they've come to see has to say.

As for the ones who aren't so kind, politely ignore them. They could be having a bad day, they could be envious,they could just be jerks. Regardless, they don't really matter.

You've written your book - a staggering accomplishment all by itself. Now's the time to get the word out.

Go ahead, you can do it and you can even come to enjoy it.

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