I recently attended an event and was brought on stage, which I wasn't prepare for. I was caught off gard. I was tongue tie and couldn't get my words together. I finally just said that I am still working on book and sorry about my presentation.
When it comes to your book, do you have a speech already planned in your head just in case something like this happen? How many of you had this experience?
Public speaking is very different from writing. When you write, you have time to organize your thoughs and have the option of making numerous corrections before going with the final version. It's completely understandable that you were caught of guard. Maybe you should prepare a short speech and keep it with you just in case this should happen again.
You are so right. I just what I did the same day I came home. I carry it with me all the time. Thanks for the feed back.
I'm a good public speaker when I'm prepared. I've never been caught off-guard like that, though.
I did go to an event once and discovered I was expected to read an excerpt from my book. THAT really threw me, because I'm legally blind, and had not prepared any large print pages from which to read. I probably sounded like an idiot.
Then again, reading an excerpt isn't the same as public speaking. Different skill set entirely.
I've taught at a college for about 15 years now, and public speaking has become second nature. It didn't start that way however. It's a skill like any other, and I've learned a couple of things -- made some mistakes -- as I gained momentum.
The first and most important thing I learned was to be an expert in whatever I was talking about. That gives you comfort.
The second is that even if you are an expert, you're going to make mistakes. Don't be defensive about it. Acknowledge and move through it. It's no big deal. I have students point out my errors on occassion, and when I'm wrong, I say, "I didn't think of it like that." And I use that moment to explore the idea in a more complex way.
The third is not to use someone else's speaking style. Don't try to be funny if you're not or serious either. Your genuine personality is interesting, so you don't have to try to be anything but you. They're having you speak about your book. They're interested in what you have to say and who you really are. This is the hardest one for a lot of people.
Although I have spoken in public I still get butterflies. I have a statement that helps - I look at the audience and say "Now I know why I'm a writer and not a public speaker. You guys scare me." Say it (or something like it) off the cuff. It usually gets the audience laughing and the mood is more relaxing.
I don't know if it ever gets easier.
I love public speaking and host writing workshops around the country. The real trick? I *never* take myself too seriously. Yes, I'll forget a word (and it'll always be something basic like "dog"), I'll lose my train of thought, I've even knocked over my chair on my way to the dais. But guess what? The Public Speaking Gestapo didn't suddenly appear in the room and hustle me off to the nearest gulag. Most people are terrified to speak in public. There's an old joke that says, "Studies have shown that people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. That means, at a funeral, most people would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy." So if you screw up, own it, and even learn to laugh at yourself, your audience easily connects with you and loves you all the more.
I just decided to make a little note and keep it with me. I was so caught off guard. I was still writing so many summary for this one book that I had it all screw up. Got it together now!
I would suggest joining Toastmasters International! You will get better at public speaking as you practice, and I guarantee you will become less nervous. It is inexpensive to join, you'll make friends, and you will become more confident! You will be prepared for any speaking situation, even spontaneous ones.
There is probably an "open" group near you! (an "open" group is one that is not closed to outsiders, because some chapters are in corporate locations).
Anyway, I heartily recommend it! There are chapters located all over the world!
Don't ya know any jokes? You can tell 'em a joke or two, say "thanks a lot; it's so nice to be here!" Then sit down. If you don't know any jokes, tell 'em a big, fat lie. Talk about your cat. Talk about a book you'd like to write. Do the Janis Joplin thing: Gargle with a pint of whiskey, say "Hot dang, this is good stuff! Y'all ought to try this." Then you can sit down and they'll all be glad you did. You might even make the papers. It'll boost the sales of your books, maybe get you an invitation to go on TV or speak at an elementary school or something like that.