I have to confess I’ve never been a huge fan of public speaking. And yet, since Everyone Knows You Go Home came out in March, I’ve been on a whirlwind of a book tour that’s consisted of day after day of public speaking.
And I’ve loved every minute of it.
Despite being an introvert and a person who grew up very shy and soft spoken, reading my work in front of audiences has been a transformative experience. Whereas for my first book, I would get nearly unbearably nervous before an event, for my second I’ve learned to embrace the nerves as productive energy. It reminds me a lot of my teens and early twenties, a time when I was a dancer and performed onstage regularly. Always, before curtain, I’d become overwhelmed by a rush of nerves that immediately went away when the music started. There was no going back at that point, so I’d have no choice but to surrender to the moment. Those three to five minutes of dancing were always pure bliss, liberating in ways that are hard to describe.
Reading my work has begun to feel like that as well, but only because I don’t think of it as reading or public speaking. I think of it as a performance. Framed in this way, it’s something I realize I’m lucky to be able to do. Here is an audience—real, live people!—wanting to experience my work.
As a show of gratitude, I try to make that experience as enjoyable as possible. Below are some ways performing affects how I prepare for an event—and how it might help you, too. [Read more…]