Public Speaking and the Nightmare that Wasn’t

victoria stopp
Public speaking without notes for the win!

A storm hit right before I left for one of my biggest book events to date. I was scheduled to speak to a large audience, which meant I’d need a microphone. I don’t have a love affair with microphones, but I conquer that fear by being meticulously prepared. Part of my preparation involves a carefully written speech. I never end up reading from it, but the speech is always there, just in case.

After wrapping¬†a box of books in a rain jacket, I made my way into the library through the storm, careful to keep my books dry. When I unpacked my boxes of supplies, my carefully prepared and printed speech–my security blanket–was nowhere to be found. Panic won for a few seconds, and then I got to work. Speaking engagements, and the book sales they bring, put food on my table, and I really, really like to eat. After losing my security blanket, I sat at my sales table and frantically wrote down, on scrap paper, every word of my speech that I could remember. It was a mostly futile effort, and the microphone was soon mine. I took a deep breath and scanned the audience, then did my job.

I sold more books in one night than ever before after that speech. Yes, I left out a sizable chunk of what I’d intended to say, but I was the only person who knew it, since no one else was privy to my planned speech. There’s a lesson here, and I’m trying to absorb it. But I’m definitely still going with my security blanket next time.

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