by Robin Spano
November brought a series of public speaking challenges relating to my mystery novel, Dead Politician Society. I haven’t aced them all – but I’ve learned from them.
In this meeting with David Miller, the former Toronto mayor who inspired me to write a book that opened with a dead mayor of Toronto, I learned that a camera is SCARY the first time you’re on one. A year and a bit of Toastmasters training meant I didn’t freeze up completely – but insane nerves meant I didn’t have command of myself like I’d like to have had.
That same night my publisher, ECW Press, had a party where they invited me to give a reading. Luckily, my fear of cameras was so three hours ago. But this was another first – the first time I’ve spoken in public while drinking wine!
Then came the ultimate pressure. The very next day, CBC Radio decided the story of meeting the mayor would make a fun interview. I couldn’t turn it down, but I was petrified. This was going to be broadcast LIVE just before the 6 o’clock news hour, I didn’t know the questions ahead of time, and impromptu speaking is not my strength. So what did I do? The same thing Toastmasters has shown me. Breathe deeply, drink water, and be as focussed as you can.
The interview was great – I’ll post a link here once the transcripts are ready. (I have a pirated recording but I don’t think it would be nice of me to share it 🙂 )
Being in public is scary for me no matter what. I’m an introvert who is always going to be happiest behind a computer screen. But by learning tricks of the trade, and practicing as often as possible, I can – to quote the Toastmasters magazine – learn to make my butterflies fly in formation.