Be Scared and Do It Anyway

“Anything I’ve ever done that ultimately was worthwhile . . . initially scared me to death.”–Betty BenderWhen I was a graduate student, no one could imagine me volunteering to speak in public.  The first time I got in front of an audience was at the local historical society.  I kept a death grip on the  podium except when I had to turn the page in my notes.  This death grip kept me from keeling over.

Are you nodding?  I hope not, because public speaking is one of the best ways for a writer to promote him or herself.  Now, I do it whenever someone asks me.

Stop shaking your head.  I can hear you now.  “I’m not an extrovert like you.”

I may not be shy but I am a dyed-in-the-wool introvert.  I re-energize when I spend time alone, not when I’m in a group setting. But I did get over my fear of public speaking.  Children’s writers especially make a very kind, gentle audience.  Now I actually wander around the stage area and only get spooked

when I kick my water over.  But that comfort level was a long time in coming.

Does this mean I don’t push myself anymore?  I wish!  Last summer I discovered that getting up in front of the church to read something someone else had prepared scared me silly.  I haven’t figured out why, but I did figure out what to do about it.  I joined the church choir.

Last Sunday was the first time I didn’t have a panic attack in the parlor as we prepared for the introit.  Not one single person commented on my pasty color.

If I can get over it, so can you.


4 thoughts on “Be Scared and Do It Anyway

  1. Public speaking can be scary. Last year I spoke in front of a group of Mensans and my entire technical presentation did not work. My laptop, video, a DVD, sound. Everything. Yet I still made several relationships and they still invite me out to eat lunch even though I’m not a member.

    Stephen Tremp

    1. Wow! I have to say that I’ve never had that much go wrong at one time.

      My worst experience took place at my first public speaking engagement — the one at the local historical society (see the original blog post). A few days ahead of time, the organizer let me know that a group of students from another university had planned a protest. Why? They wouldn’t say. When? During and at my talk, oh happy day. Then they found out I was a grad student and not faculty. They didn’t show up, but I still had to field questions about it.

      Things have been much less dramatic since then!


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