Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Want to Get Over Your Fear of Public Speaking?

Are you afraid of public speaking? I was, until I read How to Deliver a TED Talk by Jeremy Donovan.

You see, I'm a writer. I like to write. I like sitting alone at home in a t-shirt and yoga pants with just my characters for company.

But writers have to sell books, and I hate the marketing part of it. 

Don't get me wrong: I adore my readers! But I don't want to be the kind of writer who goes on Twitter and shouts, "Buy my book!" I want the readers who want to read my books to read them because they want to read them. And then there's the whole t-shirt and yoga pants thing when it comes to author visits, vlogging, or making YouTube videos. No one wants to see that. And I'm embarrassed about the way I look, because I'm no Anne Hathaway. I'm also embarrassed by the way my voice sounds.

So what do you do in a situation like that? How do you get over your fear of putting yourself out in public?

Well, being a writer, the first thing I did was look to books for the answer. I bought Video Nation by Jefferson Graham, which is a book about creating video for the web. That turned out to be pointless, because its answer for everything is to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on equipment. A friend recommended Talk Up Your Book by Patricia Fry, and I knew within the first few pages that was the wrong book for me, because it claims that personality sells over 80% of books. Hello, how many bestselling books have you bought from authors you've personally met? Have you met J.K. Rowling? How about James Patterson? Rick Riordan? I didn't think so. And her answer for what you do if you feel self-conscious about your weight is to lose weight. Really? Many anorexics think they're fat. So is that book saying they should lose weight? Kind of bad advice, don't you think?

So then I finally got to How to Deliver a TED Talk by Jeremy Donavan, and this book is everything a great TED Talk should be: clear, concise, easy to follow, and inspirational. This isn't just the best book on public speaking I've ever read: it's the best nonfiction book I've ever read. They say if you give a man a fish he'll eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish he'll feed himself and his family for a lifetime. This book is the ultimate TED Talk, because it uses the TED format to teach you how to inspire others with your own ideas worth spreading.

The video review I've posted here is the first one I've made where I'm talking to the camera without feeling self-conscious because of the way I look and the way my voice sounds. Is it great? No. But I know the more I practice, the better I'll get. It's just a small step, but it's a giant leap for me. And I feel a lot better knowing it's not about selling anything. It's about sharing ideas that will improve lives. That's exactly why I write!

So thank you, thank you, thank you, Jeremy Donovan, for helping me get over my fear.

And for anyone who is afraid of public speaking, buy this book! You'll be so happy that you did.

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