When this blog was first started several years ago, I wrote a post about my ‘stage fright’ – I wasn’t used to doing talks in front of an audience and I’d just had to do one. I was terrified!
I knew that as an author I would be called upon to do things like that at conferences and other author events, but I felt it just wasn’t me and never would be. At the time, I doubted I’d ever get used to it.
I persevered and did the odd talk here and there and those who’d told me it would become easier with time were right in a way. With practise, I learned that I could do it even though I was still scared each time, shaking inwardly (and sometimes outwardly too). The key for me was to be thoroughly prepared, with notes in case I faltered and little prompts to keep me on track. Doing joint talks with other authors was also a good idea, as we sparked off each other. And kind, attentive audiences helped a lot as well – when you feel people are there because they truly want to listen to what you have to say, the nerves subside.
During the last two weeks, however, I’ve had what can only be described as a baptism of fire. Together with fellow author Henriette Gyland, I was asked to go to Sweden to help promote our books over there, which was lovely. What we didn’t know though, was that we’d be interviewed about our books in front of quite large audiences – in one case 250 people!
Two things helped us to cope with this – (1) we had what amounted to practice sessions at the Gothenburg Book Fair, being interviewed three times a day with only a small number of people watching each time and (2) we had a brilliant interviewer called Lotta Bromé. Lotta knows exactly how to get the best out of everyone she talks to and whenever we faltered, she stepped in effortlessly with some comment that helped us overcome any sudden silence or blank. She was superb and with her support, it hardly felt like an ordeal at all.
So will I stop being nervous now when I have to give talks? Probably not. But it’s certainly a lot less daunting now than it was three or four years ago, so who knows, in ten years time I might even look forward to it!