Friday, February 26, 2010

PUBLIC SPEAKING = TORTURE

Please help me welcome author Melanie Atkins. Melanie a multi-published author of romantic suspense, an editor for an online publishing company, and an avid reader. Writing is more than an escape for her—it’s a way of life. She grew up in the Deep South listening to tall tales and penning stories about her cats. Now she writes gripping stories of love, suspense, and mystery with the help of her furry little feline muses.


Here's Melanie: I've always been shy and a bit unsure of myself—probably because I've always been overweight. And as a result, I've suffered from low self esteem. I love meeting new people, but it takes me a long time to open up and get to know them. And I'm terrified of speaking in front of a crowd. That panicked feeling is probably why I love the Internet so much. It's anonymous, and I don't have to talk to people face to face.


Part of my fear comes from seventh grade, I'm sure, when I signed up for speech without realizing what kind of class it was. Talk about being traumatized! Once I realized I would actually have to stand up in front of the other students and talk, I freaked out. My mom asked me to stay in the class and give it a try, so I did—until the day of my first speech, when I stood in front of the class on shaky legs listening to the boys make fun of me. My cheeks burned. I felt nauseated, and I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. The teacher wasn't any help at all. Somehow, though, I made it through my speech, but I never ever went back to that class. I went to the office the next day instead and convinced my counselor to let me drop it and add another elective. I don't even remember what it was now, but it was better than speech.


All these years later, I still don't like to speak in public. I do okay in discussions around a table, with everyone seated and many people participating, even though my face still gets warm and my cheeks flame—but I refuse to stand up in front of a group. I'm supposed to speak next month at a writers' group about three hours away, discussing my publishing history, how long it took me to get published, and where I want to go from here, and I plan to sit and deliver my talk. I've been practicing this with other people, and so far, so good. I just hope I don't panic.


Books have always been a great escape for me, and I know plenty of other introverts who read a lot, too. Be sure and check out my titles on my website at http://www.melanieatkins.com/ and on my blog at http://melanieatkins.wordpress.com/.


8 comments:

  1. Hi Melanie,
    Ugh, I can just imagine the horror of that speech class.

    I agree that sitting and giving a talk is much less intimidating. It seems more casual and like a conversation that way. Plus, having a table in front of you provides a little more security.

    Good luck on your talk. I know you'll do great. And just remember that people are there because they want to hear what you have to say. You're the expert and they want to know what you know.

    Laurie

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  2. Hey Melanie, thanks so much for coming on today. I think your fears will resonate with my readers.

    :)Becky

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  3. Hi Melanie.
    How awful for you, really the teacher fell down in his job in my opinion. I share your reservations, I don't like public speaking either, although I recently did a talk at the local library, I was terrified, but it turned out really well and I sold 10 books. Best of luck with your talk, I am sure it will go down well.
    Regards
    Margaret

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  4. Yay, for you Margaret! I'm glad your talk went well. I hope I have your good fortune. And yes, that teacher definitely fell down on her job. I wanted to run and hide.

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  5. I so understand how you feel. Being overweight and fighting it my whole life makes us sisters in turmoil!
    But I'll tell you that at my age now, I don't care. I am not afraid. What can they do to me. There are no meanies to hurt me. And if they did I'd give it back!!! Forget your fears, either people will like you or they won't and if they don't who cares!!
    Hope your speech goes great for you, just picture them naked?
    Speech was the same for me. I wish I could do it now. I'd show um!

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  6. I can sure relate to this topic, Melanie. Speaking in front of others isn't for everyone. I don't like doing it, however it's a requirement of my day job. I've had to speak in front of 300 people before!

    The one thing I've learned over the years is that as long as I know the topic and I'm comfortable with it, then I can do it.

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  7. Thanks, Mary and Tory. It helps to know there are other people out there like me. I don't care nearly as much as I used to, Mary, but sometimes I still freak out.

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  8. I'm an introvert, too, although not as much as I used to be. Being manager of a customer service department has brought me out of my shell a lot. That said, I still cringe at the idea of getting up in front of a crowd and giving a speech or doing a book signing solo. I've had speech class in college and it only helped a bit. Sigh.

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