Tuesday, October 30, 2007

All the World's a What? -- Jay

It’s not the topic of the speech that matters. It’s not the length of the speech. It’s not even the size of the audience. But for some reason, I become an absolute nervous, anxious, and nauseous wreck the closer I get to stepping on a stage or in front of a class. And I’m totally baffled as to why that is...because I love speaking!

Here’s the scenario from last weekend:

EVENT: SCBWI Southern California Writers’ Day
LENGTH OF SPEECH: 10 measly minutes
TOPIC OF SPEECH: How to Sell a Book in Twelve Years or Less

When Robin arrived at my house on Friday night, I was in my writing room, gathering all my stuff. We had an hour to waste till Eve picked us up to carpool two hours south, and my moodiness was driving Robin bonkers. She grabbed some reading material from my awesome collection of autographed books and headed downstairs until Eve arrived. She couldn’t even stand being in the same room as me!

When we finally got to the hotel, my head hit the pillow at 11:30pm, but the last time I checked the clock before falling asleep, it was 1:30am. Then I woke up at 7, ate breakfast, and went to the conference site. I was the last solo speaker and spent almost the entire day running through the speech in my head. The only time I wasn’t thinking about my speech or gazing at the fire alarm near the emergency exit was when the audience broke into laughter or applause for one of the other speakers.

But then my name was called to the stage and all my worries rolled away like water off a duck coated in Scotchgard. And for those ten minutes, I was in absolute bliss. I wasn’t thinking about my speech…I was giving my speech. I wasn’t thinking about any issues in my day-to-day life…I was giving my speech. I heard laughter. I saw tears. I heard more laughter, and then applause. My speech was over. I left the stage. I felt like a rock star, baby, and I couldn’t wait to do it again!

And yet, I know I’m going to be an absolute mess before that next speech, which sucks…but, oh well. Absolute bliss is worth it, even for ten measly minutes.

- Jay

POST-POST: A couple people asked, in regards to our last post, how I tied the Billie Jean dance into a speech about my journey as a writer. And I’ll admit, I had to tie a fairly funky knot to do it. I spoke about reaching my dreams of selling a book and speaking at Writers’ Day. I told about my wife’s dream coming true by having a song on the audiobook. And then I told them that, back in the 80’s, I wanted to dance like Michael Jackson. So I used that stage as my chance to make another one of my dreams come true. (Of course, I really just needed a good ending to my speech.)


Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. I have been giving teacher workshops and school residency programs for over 10 years and I always get nervous before, can't sleep well, wish I was sleeping well because I think sleep would be great to have when I am nervous. Then, when I stand up to start, it is all gone. I love it. It is what I do. It feels natural. And I wonder why I have to go through that, every time!
the clay lady

Don Tate II said...

I can relate. My first public speaking gig was with my daughter's first grade class, and I was up all night, literally. In fact, there have been several times before a speaking gig where I fell asleep after 4 am.

It gets better though. Kinda. The Michael Jackson thing, I can relate. I used to say I wanted to take my craft where Michael took his -- to the top. I have a long way to go, and considering where Michael ended up...

Disco Mermaids said...

It makes me feel a little better knowing that you two don't get much sleep either.

But I'm sorry you had to suffer to make me feel better.

- Jay

LindaBudz said...

Love that title!

Colorado Writer said...

Sorry I missed this particular dream coming true! And we all know you can dance!

Anonymous said...

Jay -

What a great post! I'm so glad you got to dance on stage in front of 200 people. It'll be good practice for when you're on Dancing with the Stars in a few seasons. And, though the anticipation can be agonizing before giving a speech, I think it's there and will continue to be there because you care so much - which is a good thing.


Rita said...

Sounds brilliant!

And I heard feedback from friends who were there, by the way, that you were brilliant.

(Just your talk's title alone is awesome!)

Lee Wind said...

wish I'd seen the dance. Congrats on battling your butterflies and winning - and hey, the joy of being silly on a stage in front of 200 people is that it lets them relax, too. Speakers that are obviously terrified are kinda hard to watch - you're so afraid for them. So crack a joke, be silly, do a little dance - and let everyone relax and have a good time. After all, you're speaking to an audience that WANTS you to succeed!
Hope to be at the next concert!