Last spring, I jumped on the chance to see young adult/adult author Susan Juby when she came to town. Not only was it exciting to have a writer of this caliber visit us—to give a talk to our town’s 20+ grade seven students—but it was exciting to meet an author who happens to have the same literary agent as me.
Sitting casually, Susan kept the pre-teen audience enthralled for 40-something minutes. She told stories: they laughed. She asked questions: they shot up their hands. Boys as well as girls. It was smooth, seemingly effortless, ostensibly a success.
Now me… My public speaking skills have had little practice. My speaking skills have had little practice. And yet, as an author, I know I’ll need to be able to follow in the footsteps of people like Susan.
Which is why last night, for the first time, I spoke publicly about my young adult novel. Okay, so it was only to three people in our local Toastmasters group. Okay, so it was for less than six minutes. Okay, so…
I nailed it! Or at least I impressed myself. While I had expected a wavering voice and a plethora of “um”s and a few forgotten moments, I instead felt eloquent and at ease. I even added unexpected embellishments.
Despite the tiny audience and short time, it was a start—and that’s where even the best begin.
Small-town pros: It was easy to join Toastmasters, as I already knew a couple of the members from Zumba class and was able to accost one of them on the street to get details. Plus I get to speak in every meeting; I hear in some larger chapters, there are simply too many people.
Small-town cons: Does speaking before the same handful of people, who you’re comfortable with, truly prepare you for speaking before a roomful of strangers? I suspect the answer is: not exactly, but it’s far better than nothing.