Tag Archives: 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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On being a #writer and #publicSpeaking

So this past Saturday I gave my first ever PowerPoint presentation to my local chapter of RWA.

To say I was nervous would be to do a disservice to the knocking in my knees and the way my heart was shooting extra beats.

I’ve spoken publically before, — hell, I use to teach Nursing to undergrads! – but I haven’t spoken publically in a very long time. In fact, I haven’t done anything publically in a very long time, not since I retired and started writing full time.

I think I was nervous because  I didn’t want to screw up, be boring, or deliver a topic that didn’t appeal to the audience. I didn’t eat anything all day because I was terrified I’d hurl!

I’m sitting here to report (1) I did not hurl, (2) I was absolutely starving the minute the presentation ended! (3) my audience laughed, repeatedly and freely in all the appropriate spots (4) there was discussion about the topic – a lot of discussion, so YAY!, and (5) my audience seemed to genuinely like the presentation.

So, again, YAY!!!

Now I just have to get my nerve up again, because I’m giving this presentation again next month to another group.

But I’ll think about that…tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.

When I’m not being overly dramatic, you can find me here:

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Public Speaking…Part 2

So  I promised you I’d give you a little insight into the 2 sessions I taught ( very loose use of that word!) at last week’s Womens’ Weekend Retreat.

These were my notes for the two programs:

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One talk was called DREAM BIG, the other HOW TO WRITE A BOOK. That second one sounds a little pretentious, but it really wasn’t!

The Dream Big session was about how we, as women of a certain age ( read: menopausal and above) have tended to place our hopes and dreams on the back burners so our families, spouses, and everyone else can see fit to fulfill their hearts’ desires. I gave reasons why we do this, why we put ourselves last, why we never reach for the brass ring when we get to a certain age.

Then I told the group why they were all wrong to do that.

Yeah, that went over big.

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Using myself and many other much more well-known women as examples, I showed how it didn’t matter what age you’d reached in life, you could still fulfill the dream of your heart. You just had to believe you could make it come true and start figuring out ways you could, right away. Then I showed them what those ways were.

That went over a little better.

The second talk was basically an overview of how to get from idea to published. This talk was packed and it did my little heart so good to see so many women had a story to tell. And what stories they were!!

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I could have used two or more hours on this session because the women had sosososos many great questions.

Now, the point of this blog was to talk about public speaking and how much I abhor it. I know people always smirk and lift their eyebrows in wonder when I say that because, well, I talk all the time. A lot. I’ll talk to a rock if no one else is around. But talking one-on-one with someone is sososososos much easier than having to get up in a group and deliver an erudite message.

And the last word anyone can associate me with is erudite. Look it up if you don’t know what it means.

But…

I sucked up my nerves and luckily there were a few women I knew personally in the groups, so that made my whole speaking to strangers anxiety abate a tad. What I truly did was just have a conversation with the women. Not a talk, well, not a classroom-like one, anyway, Just a basic back and forth interchange of ideas and questions.

This I could do. Easily.

And– yowza– I did! It was…fun. Much more so than I’d originally thought. In truth, anytime you get a group of women of a certain age in a room together, the exchange of thoughts, ideas, information, and laughs is soul-elevating.

So, if they ask me to come back again next year I….might.  I’ll certainly reboot my “talks” and make some changes, but I think I might be okay doing it again. I didn’t fall flat on my face, cry, or speak in tongues from nerves, so those are all positives, right??

When I’m not having anxiety attacks about public speaking you can find me here:

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Public speaking isn’t for sissies…

So, this weekend I’ll be here:

womensweekendad2016-copy

I’m part of the Vendor’s event on Friday night,  hawking my books and pressing the flesh ( why that always sounds so dirty to me, I can’t tell ya, but it does! )

Saturday I’m giving two “talks” or classes, as the camp is calling them. One is titled DREAM BIG the other, WRITING A BOOK, two concepts I know a great deal about.

Anyone who knows me knows I love to talk. I’ll talk to practically anyone, anywhere any time. My grandmother used to say I’d talk to a rock if it would listen. She’s wasn’t wrong.

But speaking to another person one-on-one or in a small group of your friends is totally different from getting up in front of a bunch of strangers and commanding a topic.

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I tend to babble when I’m nervous. I tend to go off on tangents if something strikes me as funny. I tend to avoid eye contact because I’m so nervous. None of these little idiosyncrasies warms a listener’s heart when they have paid cash-money to hear you speak about a topic you are supposed to be proficient in and an expert on.

There are a million tactics to dealing with this nervous anxiety. Picturing your audience naked is one of the oldest and most quoted pieces of advice. But folks, seriously? I’m a romance writer. I write about naked people all the time! If I started envisioning my audience naked I’d most likely start to think up stories to put couples in the crowd together! Not a good tactic at all.

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Someone else offered me the advice of speaking to the crowd as if they were all a bunch of my friends and we were just chatting. Again- do you know me??? I have more “friends” on facebook than I do in real life. I’m never around more than 4 people at a time. EVAH!!!

One thing I did do for these two talks was write out all the bullet points I wanted to speak about and then transferred them to index cards. At least this way I can stick to topic and not go off on one of my numerous side trips and a non-sensical conversations.

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Arghghgh, as Charlie Brown so correctly says.

What have I gotten myself into? It’s so hard being a 50-ish, chubby, nervous, introvert in today’s youth obsessed, anorexic, let-everything-hang-out-there world.

I think I’ll go back to writing now to calm myself.

When I’m not having anxiety attacks about public speaking you can find me here:

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