One of the things most authors don’t consider when entering the profession is the fact that, if you get published, you must make public appearances in order to promote your book. This carries with it the necessity to interface with your readers in several different ways, including public speaking.
Did you just faint? It’s okay. Take deep breaths and get your feet under you. This ain’t over by a long sight…
I’ve been very fortunate to have a longstanding background in public speaking. My Dad is a preacher and he always had me up participating in worship through leading singing, reading scripture, praying, and preaching. I preached my first lesson when I was five years old. So, I’ve grown up not being afraid to speak in front of anyone at any time. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t improve. Nor does it mean that just because you didn’t have the early advantages I did, you can’t excel in the public speaking arena now. Here are a few reasons why:
1. You are a writer. As a writer, you are, hopefully, good at writing. Use this to your advantage. I’ve seen JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and many other writers simply read a speech they wrote. It might not have been the most natural delivery, but they spoke eloquently and didn’t flub. Write your words and read them…simple.
2. Everyone else in the room feels for you. One f the greatest fears of most people is public speaking. Therefore, most of the people in the room while you’re speaking will immediately sympathize with you simply because they know they’d probably puke if they were up there. Use this to your advantage. Make a joke about how much you prepared because you were nervous, get the audience on your side. Then, say what you need to say with the full knowledge that those people feel for you.
3. Finally, everyone is there to hear YOU. While this might make you want to curl up in a corner and suck your thumb, it’s really a good thing. Something my Dad always told me and my brother before we got up to speak was, “All these people love you. Even if you mess up, they still will love you.” This holds true for most public speaking engagements. Everyone is there for a reason: to see you. Remember this; they will probably still love you even when you’re finished.
Maybe you’re still afraid. But, trust me when I say that the more you speak, the better it gets and the more you will like it. You are the best person to get out there and talk about your art. Go do it and do it well.