Tag Archives: Fear of public speaking

Another word about speaking in public…

The other day I wrote about how miserable a public speaker I’ve become. In truth, it’s because I don’t get the chance to do it as often as I used to so I’m kinda out of practice. Hand in hand with being terrified to speak in public is my fear of reading my own words out loud when there are more people than just me in a room.

Case in point: last year at NECRW2017 I was part of a group of authors who did a live reading of their current books. I thought it would be a good way to get my written work out there and hopefully garner some new readers. No brainer, right?

Yeah, no.

Up until the moment I was called upon to read I still hadn’t chosen the excerpt I wanted to share. The book was my newest one for Lyrical, COOKING WITH  KANDY, which had come out a few weeks earlier, and I wanted to read something that would spark ( hopefully) a listener enough to want to buy the book. Right up to the second moderator and host Damon Suede called my name, I was still undecided.

Then, my name was called and up to the microphone I went. I took a breath – three in fact – so deep it looked like I might be having the beginning of an asthma attack to those who knew what to look for(!) and read a simple passage loaded with emotions between the two main characters.

495 words.

8 minutes to complete.

I kinda left my body for the experience, because I really don’t remember much. When I sat back down, Damon said, “Am I right that was your very first public reading?”

My heart stopped beating when he said that. Christ! Had it been that bad? That obvious? That horrible a reading?

I nodded, unable to form coherent words in response.

Damon grinned and said something like, “So, yay! You’re not a reading virgin anymore! We popped your cherry!”

Everyone – including me – laughed. I know I turned sixteen shades of boiled tomato red, but still, his comment broke the tension that had coiled deep in me. Bless the man!

Next time ( and I can hear you now asking She’s gonna do it again???!!), yes, NEXT time, I’ll be less nervous, better prepared, and practice what I want to read before I get up and do so.

And BTW, Damon Suede has a great article in this month’s RWA magazine –  for those of you who subscribe –  about authors and public reading of their work. It’s well worth the read!

When I’m not obsessing about speaking in public you can usually find me here:

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I’m better on the page…

Here’s a simple truth: I get nervous when I have to talk in front of people I don’t know.  Nervous, like I start to babble, get sidetracked, even stutter at times. I wasn’t like this when I was in my 20’s and 30’s. Back then I used to teach nursing courses as a sideline and I could stand in front of a group for hours on end talking about acid-base balance and the benefits of one sized catheter over another. Then, when I was the coordinator of an Alzheimer’s unit in a nursing home, I not only ran weekly seminars for the families of the residents, I went out into the community and spoke to various groups about mental health, the elderly, and nursing concerns.

I’ve always said I’ll talk to anything or anyone – even a rock.

But, now, in my 50’s, I’m not the public speaker I used to be. Part of the reason I think is because I’m alone so much. Writing is, for all intents and purposes, a solitary career. If I don’t read my dialogue aloud, sometimes I won’t hear a voice for 14 hours in a day. It’s made me a little gun-shy of speaking to a crowd. When I “speak” on the page, I can edit what I don’t like. In person, well…real life doesn’t have an edit button ou can press.

I tell you all this because I just found out something that’s made me relieved and just a little sad, as well. I submitted a proposal to RWA this year to give a lecture on a topic. I was denied. I’m sad about that because the topic is a really good, very relevant, and funny one. I’m relieved because now I don’t have to get up in front of a bunch of strangers and talk.

WHY, you ask, would I submit to do something that I obviously am not good at ( public speaking) and that I’m afraid/nervous to do?

Well, since you’ve asked ( heehee) I’ll tell you.

One of my favorite quotes is this one from Eleanor Roosevelt.

The reason I lovelovelove that quote is because of its call to empowerment. Anyone can do something that is familiar and comfortable. I get that, I really do. I’m the type of person who likes to eat the same things because they are familiar ( and I know I won’t get a sick stomach or have an allergy attack), visit the same places, wear pretty much the same style of clothing and hairstyle since the 80’s. Things that are familiar are comfortable and feel safe to me.

But doing something that you think you can’t, or don’t want to,  or won’t be able to, well…that takes courage. Gumption. Nerve. Audacity.  Fearlessness. And when you do it you get such a rush of power and a sense of personal accomplishment that you begin to wonder why you didn’t want to do it in the first place!

So, subjecting myself to the possibility I’d have to speak in public even though it terrifies me, is just one of those things I need to do to prove I can. To empower myself. To help me grow as a human.

It’s still kinda funny that I’m sad AND glad I didn’t get in, though!

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