Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Stage Fright

It's countdown time and I need your help, dear reader. My first real personal appearance as an author is almost upon me, and I'm fraught with anxiety. I'm not just doing a signing or a reading, but giving an actual speech, which is what has me in a tizzy. Any nonchemical-based tips on how to deal with stage fright are most welcome!


Fred Schoeneman said...


I'm always suspicious of readings. Like, the stuff is meant to be read, not read aloud, you know? Which is like my issue with poetry slams. I mean, there is a lot of really bad poetry out there, and it sounds passable (sometimes) when read aloud by someone who knows where to put the emphasis.

Can you have someone else read it out loud for you? That might be a way out, and then you could open it up for Q&A.

Really, though, there's no way around it. You're going to feel pretentious and awkward. Resign yourself to it. Just understand that backing out of it is much more shame inducing than actually going up there and doing a good job.

You'll do great.


Ellen said...

Yes, the shame of backing out has gotten me through many episodes in my life.

I'm actually not scared of the reading part. I like reading my work out loud. It's the speech that's getting to me. I worry about being boring, about appearing nervous. A boring, nervous speaker is just death, you know?

That said, I've decided to stop harping on my anxiety. Another friend gave me the advice to act confident, as feelings follow actions. So for the rest of the day I'm going to play the role of a writer with a giant-sized ego who is just dead sure everyone will love her.

Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

Well, don't picture them in their underwear! It will just make you laugh. All I can say is enjoy your time in the sun - it sure beats PTA meetings!

Ellen said...

Thanks for stopping by, Melanie! And yeah, I'm hoping it'll be more fun than a barrell of PTA meetings. I'll keep you posted.

Susan Henderson said...

All I know is this reading better be good or I'm asking for a refund.

; )

You'll do great. Everyone in the audience knows what it's like to stand in front of a crowd. If you say you're nervous or your voice shakes, it will make you all the more endearing to the audience. Remember you're talking to people who want to be there.

HeLd said...

Sorry, Susan, no refunds!

Julie Ann Shapiro said...

Find people in the audience you like and just concentrate on talking to them. Once you get comfortable with them then work your way visually over the rest of the room and try to catch people's eyes and engage them.

I did this a month ago at a writers talk I gave and it worked. I was a nervous wreck for weeks as I anticipated how I might fall over the podium and other silly things. But the warmth of a few special audience members helped break the ice for me and I got more comfortable and wound up having a blast.

Julie Ann

Ellen said...

Thanks for coming, Susan! Funny thing is, I felt pretty calm, but after the speech Mike said, "I could tell you were nervous because you said 'um' about a hundred times."

I swear, I didn't hear it! I'll have to watch out for it next time, I guess.

Glen, if anyone asks for a refund, blame the roastbeef!

Julie, thanks for the advice!

fred said...

well, how did it go?

Ellen said...

Hey Fred. I did okay, though most of the crowd weren't exactly the right audience for my book. Anyway, it was a good chance to get my feet wet.