I took the plunge. I went completely out of my comfort zone and I joined my local Toastmasters Club. You guys, this is akin to torture for me. I am a writer, not a public speaker. When I’m in a crowd, I have this unique ability to disappear. I fade into the background and I listen and absorb what everyone else is saying. I don’t force my way into conversations or do anything to draw attention to myself.
But now The Shadow Reader is out. The Shattered Dark will hit the shelves soon, and I want more than anything to succeed as a writer. To succed, I feel that I need to go to conventions, do readings, be on panels, mingle with people, and be thorouughly entertaining so that readers might be tempted to peek at the first pages of my books to see if they’re something they might enjoy. If I don’t do all that, I don’t feel like I’m giving my books the chance they deserve*.
I’ve known about Toastmasters for years. It’s an organization that helps people improve their public speaking skills. Sounds like exactly what I need, right? So, a little over a month ago, I went to my first meeting.
It was a very professional meeting, with an agenda, and very specific things that were to happen at very specific times. This could have been extremely uncomfortable for me, since I tend to like things casual, but the other members were so nice and easygoing and supportive and approachable that I found the meeting to be… kind of fun. It was certainly interesting, and I was jealous of how comfortable everyone seemed when they spoke. It didn’t seem like any of them needed help with public speaking, not like I do, but they all assured me they were nervous when they first started, too.
Not sure I believe them.
Fast forward a month. Last Wednesday, I went to my second meeting, and I handed over the check that will ensure that I continue to go to meetings for the next six months. I’m looking at this as an experiment. I’m giving myself six months to see if I can become a better, more confident, more entertaining public speaker.
I’m assuming there are other writers out there who are like me. You’d rather curl up to read a book or get lost writing your own stories than to get in front of a group of people and speak, so I’ll document my experience here and occasionally on my blog, and let you know what I think of my speaking skills when my membership expires. Maybe Toastmasters is something you’ll want to try, too.
Question: Are you comfortable with public speaking? Do you see public speaking as something that’s important in an author’s career? Have you heard of Toastmasters or considered joining a Toastmasters Club?
* Does that sound arrogant? Like I think my books are the bestest things ever? I don’t really feel like they’re MY books. They’re pieces of McKenzie’s story, her life, and I feel like she – McKenzie – deserves to have her story read. Yeah. I do sound like a total psychopath here, don’t I? lol