Monday, September 21, 2009

The Katy Challenge

As in Katy, Texas, that is.

During the last two weeks of October, I have a two week stint in Katy, Texas where I will be speaking at two schools per day, giving two talks per school. Yep. That’s four presentations a day for two weeks, plus going out to lunch or dinners with the teachers and librarians. And in spite of being an introvert, I am very much looking forward to this trip. Here's why.

1. Speaking to kids is one of my most comfortable places as a public speaker. I genuinely love being around them and their energy and their wonder.

2. I equally adore teachers and librarians, the unsung heroes of our modern society.

3. Because I am giving myself the Katy Challenge--which goes something like this:

Over the last five years I have gotten comfortable with public speaking, to a certain degree, with some venues being more comfortable than others. But now, now I want to embrace public speaking, wallow in it, and come out the other side having learned to Love It. A lot. The truth is, I am now eager and ready to get ALL the way past this issue and get it far, far behind me. I am tired of it slowing me down. And while I’ve made tons of progress, I now want to close the remaining gap. Permanently. This two weeks of visits strikes me as a wonderful opportunity to do just that. Sort of like full immersion in a foreign language.

Part of motivation comes from the realization that having someone speak effectively and movingly is as much of a gift as a great piece of writing is. It can shape and expand worlds in just the same way.

The other thing that struck me is that it is just another form of delivering story and structure and theme. And I’m all over those; those I know inside and out. I just need to get comfortable with the FORM of delivery, much like publishing is currently struggling to come to terms with e-books.

I think one important step in accomplishing the above is incorporating other passions besides writing into my presentations, so I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately--What passions define me as a writer? And of course, as usual, the clues are in the writing itself. What themes do I come back to again and again? What core issues move me, compel me?

I have a few. Stepping into one’s personal power is one (and one of the things that makes me so firmly a kids writer, I think). Another is the idea that our weaknesses are often our strengths, we just don’t recognize it yet. And while these themes are especially helpful for kids, they also apply to adults. While most adults have claimed a fair amount of their personal power, they might not have done so in some important areas of their lives, say their creative lives. Or perhaps they’ve forgotten and need to be reminded.

So I’m going to take on this challenge of claiming my personal public speaking power, and find a way to turn what used to be a major weakness into one of my strengths. Anyone else want to join me? I’ll report back here and let you know how it goes!


Story Weaver said...

Public speaking...well, um, have fun anyway!

Rebecca L. Boschee said...

I'm with you. My first novel is coming out in February and I'm in the midst of exploring marketing and promotional opportunities. I've heard that spending promotional dollars on give-aways and advertisement (at least in the quantity I can afford) isn't nearly as effective ad getting out there and making personal connections. I know that I have to stop hiding behind a keyboard, so last week I joined our local ToastMaster's chapter. I even participated (badly) in an ad-hoc table topic. I'd like to be able to feel confident booking speaking engagements at schools, libraries or other places where I can connect with readers. I have a feeling this will be a long, painful journey, but I'm going to take it! Glad I'm not alone.

Elizabeth Loupas said...

Holy cow. FORTY presentations in two weeks? All I can say is be sure to take care of yourself... eat healthfully, drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep, schedule ironclad alone time every day for writing or meditation. Are all your presentations going to be pretty much the same, or is each one different?

Good luck! Will be anxious to hear how this works out.

tanita✿davis said...

WOW. Two a day?

My dear, I cannot join you in that. But good luck!!

Robin L said...

Yeay Mulligan Girl! Go YOU for joining Toasstmasters. I've heard fabulous things from people who've done that. I really do think that a lot of it is simply getting enough practice and being in that situation often enough that our bodies stop panicking. (and now I want a cupcake, really badly!)

Excellent advice on the self-care, Elizabeth. I plan to do all of that AND ask my Dr. for a Tamiflu prescription to take with me, in case of emergency. And the presentations will be roughly the same, varying slightly depending on the age group. That's why if feels like it will be a great opportunity to practice a little spontaneity and various approaches.

And thanks for the good wishes, Story Weaver and Tanita. Because, yeah, I'll need it. :-)

Booker said...

2/day public schools?!?

Wash you hands, lots! Maybe use Purell, too.

Have fun and take pix of your audience. I do that on the few occaisons I do public speaking, makes for a good chuckle to start anyway before I get back to wanting to throw up.

Susan Taylor Brown said...

Oh my Robin, that's a lot of talking to do. But it sounds like you are really up for your Katy challenge. Good idea to ask the doc for Tamiflu to take along.

MaureenHume said...

Wow! I am sooo nervous for you. That's kinda good though, means you don't have to worry about that part, I've got it down pat for you.
You sound really, really passionate about the Katy challenge!! Maybe that's the key? Replace the fear with passion, after all they're both strong emotions. Keep us informed.
Maureen Hume.

Mary Hershey said...

Repeat as needed at bedtime:


Then, sweet dreams!

Anonymous said...

Just think--you'll be talking about your books! About writing! Things you love!

It will be fun. :-)

Just make sure to get some time alone each day.

R.L. LaFevers said...

Booker, will definitely need to buy a case of Purell to take with me. Thanks for the reminder!

Susan, I alternate between talking a lot to build up my talking muscles, and cloaking myself in silence to save up those muscles. Must pick one or the other here...

Maureen, thank you so much for worrying about Katy for me. Such a relief to hand that off to someone else! :-)

I WILL ROCK KATY TEXAS ON ITS KEESTER ::repeating to self until it is ingrained on my brain::

Jenn, it WILL be fun. Really. It will. :-/

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