Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Public Speaking

They say writers are introverts. They say writers like to be alone with their imaginary characters. They say writers are “word people.”

Well, I don’t know who “they” are, and I certainly can’t speak for all writers, but for myself, I’d have to say that the above statements are at least partially true. I’m not a complete introvert, but I’m not a complete extrovert, either. It depends on the situation, and my comfort zone lies somewhere in between the two. I like to listen, although I do also like to make people laugh. When my “imaginary characters” cooperate, yes, I like to be alone with them—they’re my means of escape from the crazy outside world. But I’m not a hermit and I love to be with my family and friends. I do like words, but that doesn’t mean I’m an expert by any means.

The thing about being a writer that makes me laugh, though, is that it has forced me out of my comfort zone so many times, and continues to do so. Take, for example, a phone call I received yesterday. An old friend from my temple, who moved away earlier this year, called me to see if I would be interested in speaking to her Hadassah group about writing Jewish romances.

My usual response, before becoming a writer—and yes, I realize that if I wasn’t a writer, I wouldn’t have been asked to speak about this particular topic; work with me here—would have been to drop the phone. But I’ve actually been asked to do this, with maybe slightly different topics, often enough that I took it in stride, although the offer to pay me threw me for a bit of a loop!

I’m happy to talk to the group. I know that the more I get out there, the more books I’ll sell. And I also realize that public speaking is a muscle that has to be exercised. I’ve even started working on what I can say, after a frantic call to my mother. Now I just need to work up the courage to stand in front of a room full of people and speak.



  1. The first time I gave a presentation at a teachers' conference, I was sooooooooooooo nervous. The more I do it, the more comfortable I feel each time. It's exactly like a muscle that needs to be stretched...great comparison.

    Good luck with your presentation!

  2. Thanks, Debra, don't know when it is yet.

  3. The old adage is to imagine everyone is sitting in their underwear. That never worked for me. I get better at public speaking each time I do it. I just have to remember to speak slowly and clearly.
    You'll do just fine, Jen. You know your subject well, and you'll have an engaged audience.

  4. Yeah, I can't do the underwear thing either. Thanks for the encouragement, though!

  5. I guess having been a teacher helps because, in a sense, you are 'public speaking' with every class. I also got used to speaking (frequently 'off the top of my head' too) at events when I was a Girl Guide Commissioner. Having said that, when I was first asked to talk about my writing (earlier this year), I did wonder what I was going to say - but it went down well (and I even got some laughs), and as a direct result of that, I've been asked to speak to another group in September.
    Agree with what Ana said about speaking clearly - but imagining people in underwear would just make me giggle! I think it's better if you imagine you are speaking just to one person, rather than to a whole roomful.