I'm doing my First Official Author Appearance Thingy at a teen writer's group tomorrow night. I'm remarkably calm about this. I'm one of those mutant people who actually enjoys public speaking.
Yeah, I may be an alien. I'll peel off my face any minute now.
Here's the thing, though. Enjoying public speaking doesn't mean that I don't get an adrenaline rush. It doesn't mean that I don't get the shakes and the sweaty palms. It means that I think those things are AWESOME. You never know what's going to happen when you get up in front of a crowd. Your 80-some-year-old boss might offer you quarters if you do a little dance. Your AV equipment might start generating sparks. You might compare an infectious disease to a cannoli. Your audience might keep calling you Carrie Fisher, despite the fact that you aren't wearing buns or a chain mail bikini.
At least not on the outside.
And yes, all those examples are true.
A presentation, like a book, is a living thing. If you're a writer, how many times have you started writing a scene with one thing in mind only to find that your characters aren't cooperating? You end up in a totally unexpected place. It often, but not always, turns out better than what you'd so carefully planned. A presentation is like that. Notecards and memorization and preparation are great, but forcing the presentation to adhere to those standards turns out about as well as forcing your book to follow its outline. It doesn't work. At all.
Trust me. I'm an alien; I know these things.
So please, all you presentation fearers? Don't be so hard on yourselves. Your presentation will never turn out exactly the way you planned it. You will flub up your carefully constructed speech. You'll freeze when someone asks you an unexpected question or compliments your chain mail bikini. THAT IS OKAY. People are showing up to see YOU and all your faulty human awesomeness, not some perfect plastic automaton that can simultaneously make a speech on YA lit, juggle flaming bowling pins, and prepare a four course meal.
Although if you ever see an automaton like that, you better let me know. Because I do want to see that. Just not as much as I want to listen to YOU.
So please, wish me luck. I don't want a perfect presentation. I want the kind of appearance that can't be anticipated but makes me snarf milk out my nose when I remember it later. And of course I'll tell you all about it.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go find something to wear. My chain mail bikini's at the cleaners.