Friday, January 30, 2009

The Workshop Willies

I’ve turned into a Nervous Nelly. And I’m not normally a Nervous Nelly at all. BUT-- Recently I agreed to do a workshop on Story Boarding for my home chapter of RWA, the Kentucky Romance Writers. I have a couple of months to get it together before our yearly retreat-workshop. It’s not until the 28th of March. But being the teacher I am, I have to obsess over it for a few weeks and get my thoughts together.

Story boarding is an easy process and I do it because I’m such a visual person it helps me keep my plot advancing, encourages me to brainstorm, and enables me to track my character/romance development. But doing it, and teaching it to others are two different things. And trying to make it interesting and entertaining for them—well—I’m not ready to go there, yet.

I stand up before six hundred and sixty elementary children every week and teach them about art history and art. In the fall each year, I teach a college class, people who want to be Elementary Teachers. So public speaking isn’t normally a big deal.

But standing before a group of your writing peers, published and unpublished---

All right I’m going to say it out loud —it’s a whole different STORY. It’s like the dream you have when you’re under lots of stress that you’ve shown up for work naked and no one will offer you their coat and you try and hide behind a waste basket the size of a toilet paper roll. And – well you get the idea.

So I’ll do my pretend confidence thing for a while. It’s no big deal—I can do this—I’m the teacher—I can teach anything. But to be honest, once I get up there to give my presentation, I’ll have bats in my belly. I’ll break out in a cold sweat. My breathing will be quick and labored. I’ll be wondering if I’m going to barf in public or just pass out. God forbid either should happen. Or maybe the passing out thing won’t be too bad and I’ll be able to get out of –naw- I said I’d do it, and I will.

The dread of waiting my turn will make it worse. Let me do my presentation first thing, like while everyone is out in the lobby getting coffee. That would be the perfect time.

But once I get on my feet and hand out my visual aids—got to have visual aids since story boarding is a visual process—I’ll take a deep breath and settle into my teaching rhythm. And I will survive the experience. And I may even have fun. I AM going to have FUN.

I’ve given birth three times and survived. It can’t be any worse than that. CAN IT?


Tell me how you survive your public speaking nerves. I’m open to any suggestions.

Write on,
Teresa Reasor


Amy said...

Teresa... You will be fine! The story-boarding part of the day is what I'm most looking forward to. But I know what you mean. Sometimes the anticipation of an event is more nerve-wracking than the actual event. Don't sweat it... It's just US!


Devon Matthews said...

Teresa, once you get up there and start talking, you'll do fine. Just do it, is my only advice. I've seen you do programs before. Haven't I? The one time I did a program is kind of a blur to me now. For some reason, all I remember is walking up behind your chair in the middle of it and hitting you over the head with my notes. Ha! Can't believe I actually did that.

Anonymous said...

I love pubic speaking! But, to love it, I must be confident, and to be confident I must know my material inside and out. In so doing I speak with authority. Otherwise, there is no way I'd get up in front of a crowd.

Good luck, Teresa! I'm sure you'll do just fine.

Nancy Naigle said...

I think the best advice about speaking in front of a group is to start slow. BREATHE! People hold their breath and start talking a mile a minute then find themselves ninety seconds into the talk --panting like a labradore retreiver after a duck hunt!

So pace yourself. Pause after introducing yourself and ask for a show of hands on something .. anything. It forces you to wait, and breath, pacing your start.

Good luck!

Teresa Reasor said...

Hey ladies. Just got home so I can post a comment. Amy and Devon, as always you guys are great and forever supportive and I love you both for it. And for being my buddies.

Thanks so much for coming and reading my blog. And yes, I'm preparing as we speak. My presentation will be on Storyboarding and I've already got my hand outs prepared. So maybe you're right. I'll be able to speak with authority since I'll be organized.
I laughed out loud at your comment. I'll try to take a deep breath between paragraphs so I won't pant. And I'll keep that image of the labradore in my head to remind me.

Teresa R.

Anonymous said...

Teresa - You will do fine. Once you start speaking, your teaching experience will take over. You'll knock their socks off!

Teresa Reasor said...

Thanks for swinging by. And thanks for the vote of confidence.
Hopefully teacher mode will make things a little less uncomfortable.

Write on,

Terry Odell said...

I'm normally fine -- all those years teaching school, I guess. I had a recent presentation to do that did make me more nervous than usual because there were about 100 attendees who paid for the event. (It was a fundraiser, and they got a very nice tea, so deep down I knew it wasn't really me they had paid to see, but it meant I actually had a written "speech" type thing instead of just my usual ramblings.

It went well, I guess. They laughed a few times (in the right places) and clapped when I was done.

You'll be fine!

Christine Clemetson said...

Great post Teresa. I feel the same way! I have no experience with public speaking and I want to give a class, so all these tips are great. Thank you!


Anonymous said...

Hi, Teresa. My suggestion to add to those above: find your passion in the topic. What makes you excited about it? Your excitement and enthusiasm will connect with the audience.

I also recently gave a talk on the dry topic of health information privacy. I used a real life example of someone else who had been harmed and that seemed to get their attention.

I think real examples that the audience can relate to helps strengthen the connection.

I also thought you could start out with either:
Once upon a time there was a storyboard....


It was a dark and stormy night.

That should get them laughing! And for those who are reading these comments, they'll get the inside joke, too!

Good luck with it. You'll do fine.]

Jan from crimescenewriters

Nina Pierce said...

OMG! I could have written this blog! A former teacher, I too have agreed to do a presentation for my local chapter. BUT... and this is a big but ... I don't feel confident about my subject. Ask me about science, anything ... I'd teach any group of people. But I'm going to try to explain to them how to take a big plot and write a novella. Ummm ... just do it? LOL! Okay, so that won't work. I haven't any idea what to do for visuals and I'm all about the teaching tools. *sigh* That wasn't any help was it?

Magdalena Scott said...


I've never seen you do a presentation, so the March 28 thing will be new for me. I've also never had a dream of trying to hide behind a toilet paper roll-sized waste basket. Hm... Will try very hard not to think about toilet paper rolls while you do the workshop.

I can't imagine you'll have any trouble. You speak so well to the group at regular meetings. Maybe if you sit down to begin the presentation, like the rest of us are, and then just kinda slide smoothly into your topic.

If you think the group might not see you well enough, we could prop up your chair. Everyone could start now, collecting toilet paper rolls to create a dais for you. ;)

Julie Rowe said...

Hi Teresa,

Here's something I do when I speak, I focus on the faces of three or four people in the audience, usually people I know, and talk to THEM.

Before long I'm relaxed and talking to everyone. :-)

Cheers, Julie Rowe

Teresa Reasor said...

So glad to see you here. This too is a paid for event and I want to be sure to give the ladies their money's worth--though they're not going to be there just for me. Alicia Rasley is our key speaker. Emagine that pressure.
I've story boarded for a while now so I know I'll be able to do this. It's just getting my visual aids to work on the computer. I hate technology problems when you need it to do your presentation.
Teresa r.

Teresa Reasor said...

Good luck with your presentation!!! Just go in prepared to the 10th degree and you'll be fine I'm sure.

I'm gaining a little confidence since I'm going over and over my own process to get it in my head really well.
And since I really believe the process helps to plot, I'm sure my audience will get something out of it.

thanks so much for joining me,
Teresa R.

Teresa Reasor said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to join me on the blog.
And we teachers have to stick together.
I'd be interested in seeing your presentation. I've never written short. I'm used to those 100,000 word historicals so anything shorter than that I find a real challenge. I've recently written a couple of short stories, and I have to tell you, it was not easy.
I think I sweated over them more than I ever have my long manuscripts.
If you have hand outs, I'd be interested.
Teresa R.

Teresa Reasor said...

I'll bring a case of toilet paper and that way I'll have something bigger to hide behind if things don't go well. Ha!
I appreciate your words of support and encouragement.
I know I'll be fine once I get started.
Looking forward to seeing you there.

Teresa Reasor said...

I will have an advantage because I'll have lots of people there whom I know. So, I'm going to do as you suggest. Pick out two or three I know really well and talk to them, until I get my breath at least.

Good suggestion,
Teresa R.

Gretchen said...

I agree with Karen, KNOW YOUR TOPIC. As long as you do and you truly feel that sharing your material will add value to the people who are attending you can't lose.

That said, assume that something will go wrong. Your podium will be placed directly under an air handler and will rattle your post it notes and knock them off your poster board. The computer won't work with the projector, the power cord won't reach to the wall from where the projector is.

You always need a backup plan so that when something goes wrong you're ready to wing it on the strength of your topic knowledge alone.

If you think your topic is boring it is almost guaranteed to end up that way.

I try to stay out of any situation where I'm presenting material that though important could put an insomniac to sleep.

I can't tell you how many times I've had to give presentations where everything went wrong. The most recent was a computer training session where the AV department decided it wasn't important to bring a projector. When I called and asked if it was on it's way they said yes and it never arrived.

Teresa Reasor said...

Technology is wonderful until it doesn't work or it isn't available. How well I know that. So yes, I'm preparing everything as a hand out and that way if the technology doesn't work I'll be able to go on from there.
I hope to make the storyboarding helpful and interesting.
Thanks for joining me.

Teresa R.

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