I spoke at the Meadowdale Branch Library in Chesterfield County last night about All the Money in the World. The organizers were wonderful, doing an incredible amount of marketing for the event. So, despite some blustery wind and quite the downpour in the Richmond, Virginia region, we had a packed house. (The food trucks they’d planned to have for the event, alas, canceled due to the weather).
Of course, the gale had other effects. I flew to Richmond in a small plane with propellers. This is one of the downsides of moving from New York to Philadelphia. There are fewer direct flights in large planes. Add a prop plane to a storm system and you get some major chop. A few weeks ago, I found myself musing about why airlines still offer airsick bags, tucked in with the inflight mag in the seat back pouch. Was it some holdover from when people were nervous about aviation? No. They are for flights like mine from Philly to Richmond. The poor woman sitting next to me actually threw up, and filled the second bag I gave her from my seat too.
Here’s something that doesn’t make me nauseous anymore, though: public speaking. I used to think some people were good at public speaking and some weren’t. I’m naturally kind of introverted, but I’ve learned that public speaking is a skill you can get better at, like any other. Even if you know how to play the piano, you probably couldn’t get up on stage and perform an intricate etude without having practiced the piece. It’s the same with speaking. I aim to hone my material so I know where people will laugh, where they will go “hmm” and I’m learning to watch to see if they’re drifting. If so, I’m figuring out techniques to pull people back. I was giving my money speech last night, but one thing I like about my time speech is that, usually, I’ve had a few people keep time logs for me before the event. I’ve chatted with them by phone about the logs. So I have at least 2-3 friends in the crowd by the time I give my speech. Friendly faces deliver their own energy.
How do you feel about getting up in front of crowds?