We all have a comfort zone don’t we? Some are just bigger than others. I confess, my zone of terror includes public speaking, sales, and bragging about myself. But that’s exactly what I had to do this weekend at my first author event. Now that I’ve lived to tell the tale, it’s time to pass along my survival secrets to you. Beware, some of them are surprising.
#1 Sometimes You Just Gotta Jump In
I know, sounds terrifying right? You better believe I was uber-nervous when my friend asked me to do a presentation on Angels in Young Adult Literature. My first author-related speaking engagement ever on a touchy subject like angels. Oh, my! When they announced me as the next speaker, I think a literal brood of butterflies on Redbull waged war in my stomach.
When I walked up there I took the mic and just started talking about angels. I even had my handy visual aids from Kronk to help me calm down. And somehow, praise the Lord, I made it through.
#2 Keep Going When the Going Gets Bumpy
I’ll be the first to admit, my presentation didn’t go as planned. The crowd consisted mostly of kids younger than the upper-age teens that my book targets. In the middle I tried to simplify my talk and ended up rambling off of my notes. Super abnormal! Usually when I get nervous I talk too fast and buzz right through my points in one fell swoop. But my off-note rambling ended up earning more head nods than anything else. I guess that means sometimes you just have to trust yourself.
#3 No Matter How Much You Prepare, You’re Gonna Get Blindsided
Not quite what you were expecting, eh? Me either! I got blindsided three times after my presentation. First, I never expected so many questions from the kids. They were really interested in angels and had their own thoughts to add. Some of them were so off-the-wall funny I was glad I ventured out of my comfort zone.
Then I got waylaid by a “suggestion” on angel theology. While I’m the first to admit I’m no theologian, I did go to Bible college so I know a thing or two about what the good book has to say. This “tip” on angelolgy was something I never heard before, something I never came across in all of my research. Then my husband made a good point. You can do all your research, know your facts cold, and still someone comes up with something that stumps you. It happens all the time in job interviews. The good thing about my left-field stump? I went home and researched. Now I’m better prepared for next time.
The biggest surprise came from the bishop of the church hosting the event. He asked if I could work my presentation into an article for his denomination’s newsletter. That’s right! My first author event ended up leading to my first byline outside of college and this blog! (The article comes out in a few weeks and I’ll add a link when it’s live.)
I’m not saying don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, because that’s silly. Of course you’ll be afraid. I’m saying do it anyway! No matter what happens you’ll gain experience. There were times it felt like I was crashing and burning, even failing. But that just means I’ll learn from my mistakes and do better next time. After all, no one does something exactly right the first time. It’s all about practice, baby!