People have told me that fear of public speaking ranks high among the biggest fears we have. I know from my experience as a poet and writer who has given and attended readers for almost 30 years, that reading our writing before others, whether as open mic participants, workshop members or featured readers, gives us pause. Some of us get so nervous that our hands shake and our audiences see our pages quivering (thank goodness for podiums when we have them to lay our work out on). Some of us sit at the back of the room waiting for our time to be called nervously re-bookmarking the poems and stories and excerpts we want to read aloud or think would be the best ones for the audience. Some of us practically whisper our words, so sure are we that we don’t deserve to be up there, that the audience won’t like what we are writing or think of it as good enough. We feel so easily that we are merely “masquerading” as “real” writers though we listen to others with enthusiasm, happy they are sharing their work.
No matter how nervous it makes us, reading our work in public and/or becoming public speakers to build platforms for books we have written or will write are important aspects of our writing lives. By giving readings and presentations, we meet people, exchange ideas and references, receive feedback on our work and gain inspiration from listeners who add their insights to ours.
I was very pleased when Eric Butterman, who writes and presents on public speaking, asked if Writing It Real would be interested in an article about his work and tips for writers. Here is our email interview:
Let’s start with an introduction about you and your work.
I’m a public speaking trainer and writer—it’s given me a chance to speak everywhere from corporate conferences to universities like NYU and Harvard. I’ve also written about public speaking several times. I’ve utilized my speaking skills for businesses such as Nortel and NAPCO, among other clients.
Can you tell us more about how you entered the field of being a public speaking trainer and writer?
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