Twelve days and counting; will it be terror or triumph? Public speaking is one of those great betes noires of human existence. Which do you fear more, a terrorist attack, or standing in front of a group of strangers and giving a talk? For some people, it's a close call. On the last night of one of my business courses many years ago, I had to present my project in front of class. Every molecule in my body felt like it would shake loose in a separate direction-God, the fear.
On August 4, Southwest Writers will allow me, the world's leading authority on nothing at all, to speak to an estimated assemblage of 100 to 110 of their members in Albuquerque. The topic will be "Publishing Your Pride and Joy," and here's the pitch:
"When should you consider self-publishing, and what does the term mean, anyway? In this talk you will learn about print on demand (POD), self-publishing versus subsidy publishing, and the advantages and pitfalls of the do-it-yourself approach. The speaker will use his own experience with iUniverse as a case study, freely sharing the lessons he has learned."
The schedule says it'll last two hours, though the talk itself will likely be less than half that, with the floor open to questions thereafter. In my nightmares, the first question will be, "Why are you wasting my valuable Saturday morning?"
My scant experience in public speaking is mixed, really. Somewhat unexpectedly, I am comfortable with public readings and answering questions about my book. My tentative conclusion is that a high comfort level with the material is the key to reducing anxiety about public speaking. It is (fingers crossed here) all in the preparation.
So how to prepare? This week I'll be working on an outline and practicing sections of my talk. My wife knows well after lo, our forty-two years together, that I tend to go off and talk to myself, and she will hear lots of that in the next week or so. I'm counting on lots of mini-rehearsals to carry the day.
Ideally, it would be nice to speak without notes, but that might be a tad ambitious. I hope to have some solid handouts - "Don't worry about taking notes, folks, 'cause it's all in the handouts." We'll see.
By the way, they'll not only sell my book for me (for a $1 commission) but they'll pay a small honorarium. How cool!