Public Speaking Engagements

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not a fan of public speaking. Even when I was in high school I was not fond of giving impromptu speeches in front of others. I did theater for a few years hoping to alleviate the anxiety I experienced from such endeavors but never found the inner peace I sought. I competed in various speaking events such as impromptu speaking, persuasive speaking, and team debate but was never able to overcome the fear and butterflies that came with every second perched in front of whatever audience was observing me.

That same sense of social anxiety has remained with me throughout adulthood. I am something of a recluse, choosing to stay home every chance I can and avoiding large public gatherings when my wife isn't pushing me to attend with her. I don't freak out in large gatherings or anything as long as I'm not expected to talk. I primarily only feel super anxious when I have to stand in front of others and speak.

The real rub of it though is that as an author looking to promote myself and my books, public speaking is one of the best marketing tools out there. Podcasts, book signings, speaking to others about writing, doing seminars/conferences, and putting yourself in front of others helps to establish your brand and authority.

That's a problem for me. I don't relish in the idea of being in front of others. Sure, I hosted a podcast with my son but the podcast was usually just the two of us chatting about our shared interests. I never had to interact with strangers or put myself into unusual or crowded places. The podcast was an easy way to interact with others without actually interacting with them.

But that brings me to something that I'm actually excited out, contrary to everything else here. Last year I was invited to speak to a group of students at a nearby school. About 15-20 students who wanted to talk with me about my processes of writing, world building, literary inspirations, and more. I went to the school concerned for how the encounter would go. I'm not usually one to spend a lot of time talking with youngsters and I was a little nervous about how things would play out.

What was supposed to be no more than an hour of chatting with the students ended up lasting 2.5 hours. The students were very curious, very attentive, and our interactions were all very casual and fluid. I left the school that day feeling very happy and relieved. Young students aren't going to drive a lot of sales my way and most of them won't remember later on but it was nice to have such a positive encounter with a group like that.

Needless to say that when an unexpected invite hit my inbox this year to be a return speaker, I was ecstatic. Usually such notions terrify me but I am looking forward to speaking to a new group of students about my writing process. Maybe, just maybe, doing things like this will better help me to be open about doing similar things with the general public. I want to do book signings and release parties but the idea of being in front of people like that still instills in me a primal fear that I can't overcome.

They say practice makes perfect so maybe practicing being in the public eye with the students will make it easier for me to be in front of others. Maybe this will help to open the door more for me to do other speaking engagements. I haven't sought out many podcasts to participate on to help promote myself or my works but maybe I'll start.