So, I’ve agreed to do my first author talk next month and pretty much from the moment I agreed the fear started! I think I’m currently in a state of denial but I have been beginning some research into how I can manage it without turning into a gibbering idiot!
I’m probably about as far from an expert on this topic it’s possible to get, but I wanted to share my journey with you and as I do more of these, I’ll hopefully get better and have more to share with anyone else just starting out on a public speaking journey.
So far, these are the main things I’ve learned:
1. Be prepared!
Pretty obvious I know, but events can take such different formats I emailed the organiser and asked her what sort of thing she was thinking. Was she expecting a reading from my book? Did she want me to talk about my process or about the inspiration? We discussed and agreed everything so I then had an idea of what notes I needed to take.
2. Book Reading
If you are doing a reading make sure you’ve marked in your book where the reading is, or have printed out a bigger version if you’ve got dodgy eyes like me! Make life easier for yourself, you don’t need anything else to worry about!
3. Ask questions!
I’ve decided that I’m going to ask some questions through my talk as the whole point is engaging with people. I’ll make a little list of those questions and throw some in here and there because I don’t want to just stand and talk at people!
4. Take some water
Everyone gets dry mouth and I think everyone fears that moment when your throat goes so dry you just cough and can’t breathe. I really, really don’t that to happen so I’ll be taking a couple of bottles of water with me!
5.Remember no one wants you to fail!
No one who’s either bought tickets to the event, or have come all that way are doing so thinking, ‘I can’t wait to see them make a fool of themselves.’ Everyone is there because they want to be, because they want to hear what we have to say. So try and enjoy yourself then others will too.
6. Be human!
Let your personality shine through! If you’re nervous admit it, if you make a mistake just a apologise and move on. The attendees aren’t expecting a super hero. They want a human person and in the case of my event, the person who’s written a book they want to know about. They’re definitely not expecting a robot! They want you, warts and all!
I’m putting this in big shouty capital letters because it is the most important! If I walked into a room with an author who didn’t smile once I’d hate it and I’d think they were miserable and grumpy. However nervous you are, however bad it feels, try and smile! Smiling also releases endorphins that make you feel good so if you do, it’ll help you relax!
I’ll let you know if I was able to actually do any of these things at the talk, but until then, I hope they’ve helped with anyone else facing the terrifying act of public speaking!