Is that the way you feel? We like the solitary activity of writing. We enjoy spending quiet time letting our thoughts flow onto the paper or computer screen. We don’t want to get out there in front of people and talk. The thought of it scares us to death.
Unfortunately, in today’s publishing atmosphere, we need to market our own product and that includes speaking in front of groups. If we expect to sell our books or make people aware of our articles or stories we have to get out there and tell them about what we’ve written.
We can get our names in the public eye through social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, but if people can physically see and hear us the impact is greater.
I write a weekly devotional for www.thewritingshow.com. My name is getting out. Hopefully, editors, publishers and readers are getting to know me. However, the personal touch is missing.
Recently I had the opportunity to be the speaker for a small women’s retreat at a church I used to attend. The people who organized the retreat had read my devotionals and thought I would be a good fit. The leader of our writing group (West Michigan Word Weavers) keeps telling us we need to market ourselves, let people know who we are. Then when we are ready to sell our product there are people waiting to buy it.
When I received the invitation to speak I accepted. As soon as I did so, the fear set in. What in the world was I thinking? I have stood up in front of people and spoke in the past – a few very short sermons, a mini motivational talk at a Weight Watchers open house – , but for this retreat I needed to talk for 30-45 minutes. There was a theme I needed to follow. Luckily I had a book on this very theme. I read through it and was able to glean some good ideas which I could use in my talk. I had four weeks to prepare.
A week and a half before the date, I had the speech written. I began practicing. I’d stand up and present the speech just as if I was in front of an audience. I did this once almost everyday up to the day of the retreat. I had my message pretty good in my head, but I was so nervous. I then put out a request to my writing group and my facebook friends to please pray for me, asking God to ease my nerves and make sure His message got out.
The day of the retreat came and I didn’t feel too bad. I took part in all the activities up to the time of my speech and didn’t dwell at all on what I was going to be doing later that afternoon. The time came for me to speak. I took a deep breath and began. To my surprise my nervous feeling was minimal. I was able to maintain good eye contact and did not stumble on any of my words. My illustrations made sense and I was able to present the message in a manner everyone understood. It turned out to be a great experience. Now I have nineteen more women who could become potential buyers of my future writing endeavors.
I give all the credit to God. Through the prayers of my friends God took care of me. If I am ever asked to speak again I will do it. The nerves will still be doing their thing and the fear will set in again, but with God by my side I will be able to do it.
Don’t shy away from speaking about what you love, your writing. If you have doubts about your ability to speak go online and find a class or conference which deals with public speaking. If you want to be a successful writer you will have to do some public speaking. There is no way of getting around it. Prepare yourself now. Once you do it you may find out, like I did, that it’s not so bad.