Be the bravest person in the room

Arve S. | stock.xchng

When psychiatrists study fear, they consistently find that most people’s top fear is public speaking. John Crossman, the keynote speaker for the Central Florida Christian Chamber of Commerce this month, noted that this made him “the bravest person in the room.” Writers need to be that brave, too.

Many aspects of the writing journey require public speaking or something like it. We may be asked to give radio or podcast interviews, teach conference workshops, or give keynote speeches. These are all opportunities for marketing one’s book and building one’s platform.

But for those who would rather be eaten alive by fire ants than speak in front of a roomful of people, there are places to get help. Toastmasters, for example, is well-known for helping people overcome this fear.

Writers conferences frequently offer classes on speaking. At the recent Florida Christian Writers’ Conference, Linda Miller of Mississippi State University taught a class called “Fear No Audience.” I must confess I skipped it.

Unlike normal people, I enjoy public speaking. Maybe I’ve been given this gift because teaching is part of my ministry. Or maybe I’m just a ham. But I spoke to Professor Miller about how to get started as a speaker. She suggested beginning in a place we’re familiar with: church. Church groups often need speakers, and such a group will be less threatening than a large, unknown group.

The key is to speak on a topic you are comfortable with and passionate about. Enthusiasm will go a long way toward keeping the audience with you. And it is about keeping them, not getting them. In most public speaking situations, the audience is on your side from the start. Because most of them would rather sit in a pit of fire ants than stand on the podium.

About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

3 comments on “Be the bravest person in the room

  1. I’ve never been shy. Yes, I know that’s hard to believe.

  2. Yep, that’s me. Which is why I always carry a jar of fire ants.

  3. I don’t see the problem. I prefer one-sided conversations with minimal interaction from the other side anyway. 😉 😈 😉

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