Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What to say...

I've been invited to speak at a luncheon. I have to write a speech. This is much harder than I thought when I accepted the invitation six months ago. I'm really nervous.

It's not the public speaking part that bothers me. I know a lot of folks hate it, but it doesn't bother me. Heck, after lecturing freshmen, groups don't scare me. I can honestly assume any crowd will be much friendlier -- or at least less openly hostile. (And since I did yoga in the middle of a restaurant last Saturday because we were locked out of our usual location and I was the program for my chapter meeting, I think it's safe to assume that I don't fear making a fool of myself in public!)

But the speech is killing me. I'm used to having a really specific purpose for talking to a group -- a lecture on Beowulf, a workshop on characterization, a welcome to an event, etc. -- but this event lacks a theme for me to latch on to. I'm just the speaker -- go speak about something. Be interesting, be amusing, be coherent. That's pretty much all I was given to go on. And I have to fill almost thirty minutes. That's a long speech!

I don't even know my audience. It's a community women's organization, so all I know about them is that they are women and they all have access to the military base. They could be military, or military wives, or civilian contractors, or work at one of the restaurants on base. It's a pretty wide net. I can't even guarantee that they read romance -- although they are women, so I'm hoping the demographics work in my favor on that one. Otherwise, I'll have nothing to say.

So I'm working on this speech. I should really be working on my new WIP, but unless I plan to get up in front of eighty people and read from chapter one, I had to write a speech. Oh, and did I mention that I'll be speaking on Valentine's Day? I hope they're not expecting me to wax poetic on the holiday because it's one of my least favorite (beaten only by April Fool's Day. I hate pranks of all kinds.).

But I have the draft of the speech. At 4000+ words, it's almost the equivalent of a chapter, but hopefully more appropriate to the occasion. I'll need to spend some time with it over the next couple of weeks, practicing it and smoothing out the rough places, because I do want the event to go well.

And, yes, I am bringing a friend. Someone I know will laugh at my jokes and hopefully set an example for the others.

But keep your fingers crossed for me. And if you have any brilliant ideas for the speech, please let me know. I just might add them in...



Smarty Pants said...

That sounds horrifying. Sorry. I need a topic - like true romance (vs. valentine fluff) or escapist fiction. If these are military wives, they might need to block out reality with a good book.

Playground Monitor said...

Perhaps you could compare your teaching days (a group of students who were reading unwillingly if at all) to being a romance writer (having a group of fans who read because they like you). Throw in a little female empowerment and voila! I'd like something like that but you never know what others will like.

Good luck! Once again you're the canary down the mine shaft. ;-)

Cheryl C. said...

I always found that self-deprecating jokes endear you to the audience - you have problems just like them (even if you're a FAMOUS author). Just a thought. I got a lot of juries to identify with me by doing that.

Maven Linda said...

Make 'em laugh. People love to laugh.

Angel said...

How about the fantasy of being a bestselling romance author, as opposed to the reality. :)

You'll do great, I'm sure!