Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fear of Public Speaking. And Aliens.

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.

13 comments:

storyqueen said...

Good luck and have a blast!

N. R. Williams said...

LOL Carrie. I'd love to see someone juggle while preparing a flaming meal. Did anyone ask for a fire extinguisher? Seriously, if someone is going to start speaking publicly it's a good idea to practice. I suggest a three year old crowd who thinks you're the best.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

abby mumford said...

good luck!

and make sure you remember to remove the dry cleaner's tag before you you wear the chain mail bikini again.

Jen Daiker said...

Wow... you ARE an alien. I always suspected but now my suspicions are confirmed. Thank you for clearing it all up.

I'm terrified of public speaking, but with your adivce I might actually get over my fear of public speaking... one step at a time.

GhostFolk.com said...

Terrific post! Knock 'em dead!

K. M. Walton said...

You'll nail it. No worries. I wish I was in the audience so I could laugh WITH you.

Lenny Lee! said...

hi miss carrie! wow how cool is it that you get to do that talk. cause of you being a alien it could be really neat. do aliens sweat? ha ha. i like being up in front of people and talking. i do it sometimes cause of having cancer so i do talks mostly to parent of kids that got it and to kids too. its real easy when you got something cool to say. i know your just gonna be a big hit cause youre fun and you got the most cool stuff to say.
...smiles and hugs from lenny

Marsha Sigman said...

Good Luck!! And it's just not natural to enjoy public speaking...so you are an alien.lol

Tiny T said...

Explains everything ;;) Wish you the best tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

I'd let you borrow one of my many chain mail (and often bejeweled) cod pieces, but that wouldn't help you out up top, so I don't think that will fly.

Then again, nothing says "all eyes on the speaker" like....

Anonymous said...

Good luck you crazy alien! I'm sure you'll do great and have a blast. Wish I could go. :) -Laura (too lazy to login)

Abby Minard said...

Good luck!! I have really bad social anxiety which is pretty funny since my minor was in communications. I had to do the thing I hated most in the world for half my time at college: speak in front of people. I have no idea why I did it!

Kiki Hamilton said...

I'm sure you will knock their ninja socks off! Wish I could be there!