Who’s Afraid of…Public Speaking?

I write stories for a living. I do that because I’m better at writing than I am at speaking. Much better, and it’s not that I’m bragging about my writing ability here. It’s that I’m trying to explain just how horrible I am at public speaking. Ugh. I get nervous and can’t remember what I want to say. And I feel like I lose all sense of my body and end up looking like the hunchback of Notre Dame.

So where was my head when I agreed to do not one, but TWO speaking engagements this month? The easy one is introducing a beloved author, Sheila Roberts, at a local reader’s club I belong to. Sheila’s stories are great and she’s such a wonderful personality that introducing her should be a no-brainer. She makes it easy.

But the other one is a workshop on using Microsoft Excel that I’m giving to my local writer’s group. I love Excel and use it for a lot of things. And, while I am not an expert in it, I’m fairly proficient. So it should be a no brainer, but I’ve been angsting over it for the past month. I’m ready…I’ve got a whole slide presentation, know my plan, and have hopefully tried to make it interesting. But I’m still nervous.

So I’m writing this blog early, and below are my thoughts after finished my workshop and author introduction. I hope I get to write that both endeavors were very successful. 🙂

Addendum 1: Well, the tough one is over. I did the Excel workshop. And yes, I got hives. And yes, my voice shook some of the time. But, thankfully, my mind didn’t go blank. (That happens to me a lot when I’m nervous.) So I guess, by how pleased people were, that I sounded somewhat intelligent and helped them to learn something. Whew! It’s going to be a few years before I take something like that on again, if ever, but I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and did it.

Onward ho…the reader’s group is next…

Addendum 2: Yep, done with this one, too. And I did okay. Of course, introducing author Sheila Roberts is easy. She’s wonderful. But I, once again, did not go blank. Well, maybe one little time.

So I guess this means I should do this more regularly and I’ll get used to it.

Not going to happen, folks. NosireeBob. I like my little world of fear and plan to stay well-mired in it, at least as far as public speaking goes. I climbed out of my shell and did it, but nothing habit-forming will be happening here. Lol

How about you? Do you like to public speak?


20 responses to “Who’s Afraid of…Public Speaking?

  1. As you know I share your angst of public speaking. Needing to be able to at least muddle through I joined Toast Masters. To make it worse it was a breakfast meeting before work and I am so not a morning person. I stayed with it until I finally did a passable presentation then said that’s good enough and quit.

    However being at the Excel workshop I have to tell you that you didn’t seem nervous. Just the opposite it was a great session and I don’t think any of us walked away without learning more about Excel.

    • Thanks, Lavada, but I was a quivering mass of jelly inside. Kept leaning against the wall for support. Lol. You joined Toastmasters? That’s jumping in with both feet. Kudos!

  2. I actually took public speaking in high school (at the advice of my home room teacher who said I need to ‘break out of my shell.’) It was the best thing I ever did. I can feel very comfortable speaking in front of 5-100 people but I find it difficult to go up to someone & say “Hi, I’m Linda, etc” so I would never be able to be a greeter at church.

    • And I’d rather talk one on one than to a crowd. 🙂 I feel like I’m being pulled in 100 different directions in a crowd.
      I hope all is going well with you, Linda. It’s good to see you stopping by!

  3. I don’t have a problem with public speaking – and you shouldn’t either, Laurie! Your problem must be shyness, bc I have never noticed anything wrong with your public speaking (I was at both your ventures, if you will remember correctly). You are a very likeable person and have always spoken in front of your friends, anyway, so why be worried about it? 🙂 Heck, I forget what I’m saying all the time! LOL!

    • Hi, pjharjo. I know public speaking is one of your strengths. I envy you that. But I think it’s okay for me to say “I don’t want to do that” about something, as long as I nudge myself out of the box once in a while, eh?

  4. Public speaking is a major problem, my self included. I get nervous at first, but when Im at the podium things just go smoothly till the end and I survive. So you cant be that bad!

    • I don’t think I’m bad, necessarily. pj and Lavada above have validated that (thank you very much, pj and Lavada!). I just can’t stop being nervous about it. I’m glad I’m not the only one. Ooh, that sounds selfish, doesn’t it? Lol.

      • No you don’t sound selfish at all. I’ve stopped trying to be and do everything and started realizing that I have strengths as well as weak areas. Usually the weak areas are ones I don’t like as much. Thankfully others do. I know we work harder to accomplish those things that aren’t in our comfort zones. So instead of selfish, I’d color you brave.

  5. Valerie J. Patterson

    I’ve taken a couple public speaking classes, and I am nervous beyond belief each and every time I speak at a conference, meeting, or event. However, there is a saving grace for me. If I’m invited to speak about writing or my books or my path to publication, I fret over it but usually end up enjoying myself and the event because writing is my passion. My last speaking engagement was a blast! However, I was a mess the entire month preceding it! I kept telling the hostess she should have selected someone else!! 😛

    • So it helps to talk about something you’re passionate about then. Okay. Keeping that in mind, for when…or IF…I ever do another one of these. 🙂

      • Valerie J. Patterson

        Absolutely! I’d wager you’d have a good time were you to speak about your books or your creative process. I’m not saying you’d breeze right through the entire process, because I think you’d be like me–nervous leading up to the event, but find yourself enjoying it once you were there and started speaking. At my first book signing event, everything was going swimmingly until a crowd of 15-20 people gathered and one man asked me a question about my path to publication, which I answered and someone else piped up with a question and I turned to my friend with a look of panic on my face. She smiled and said, “You got this.”. I fielded questions for about 15 minutes and survived, but it was completely unexpected to have people asking questions. That’s when I fully realized I could talk a blue streak about books and writing!! 😛 I’ll bet you can, too!! 😛

  6. Yay for you for doing it and doing it well. Way to go!!!

  7. Well done on pushing through your nerves and fears, Laurie. That’s not an easy thing to do at all. And very well done on two successful outcomes! It’s a strange thing, but when we think we’re coming off as nervous and shaking, people don’t seem to notice it at all. They’re too busy listening to what you are saying. I would have loved to attend both events, especially the Excel one (which I’m hopeless at). Maybe you’ll do it again at an RWA conference in the future? 😉 LOL, Just kidding 🙂

  8. Valerie, well done! I actually choke up most when talking about writing and my books. I draw a complete blank. I think it’s the “if I say something wrong, no one will ever buy another book” mentality I can’t seem to quite shake. Lol.

  9. Well done, Laurie. I think the majority of us are nervous when pubic speaking, I know I certainly am and usually end up with my voice breaking up. I led a workshop for the first time a couple of years ago and despite being a bag of shaking nerves, everyone seemed to enjoy it and not notice my shakes. I couldn’t have attempted this without the support of my writing group where we read aloud pieces of our work. The first time I was terrible but over time it got easier. They say the more you do it, the easier it gets but have to say it’s not something I want to do too often. Full kudos to you for doing it.

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