You Mean, I Have to Speak Too?

Friday, April 04, 2008
by Jill Earl

Next month, I’ll be attending the 20th annual Maryland Writers’ Conference as a conferee and a panelist for the ‘Writing For The Voice’ session. Now, if anyone told me that this was going to happen, I’d say they were crazy. I just wanted to attend my state’s conference after missing out for the last couple of years. As an introvert, I definitely don't go out of my way to do public speaking.

Did this mean that along with writing, I might have to speak too, on occasion? As in, get in front of people and talk about what I know?

Well, why not? There are numerous writers in as many genres who include speaking as part of their platform, making appearances at various conferences, workshops and seminars throughout the year. They balance teaching their craft and offering insider perspectives on the writing world, along with getting their own work into print.

Last spring. I was asked to participate in a panel featuring writers involved in broadcast media by the president of the Maryland Writers’ Association Baltimore Chapter (MWAB). I and three other writers agreed, and the panel was set for the August meeting.

Questions swirled through my mind as the event drew nearer. What do I really know about the topic at hand? Would I be facing a sea of unresponsive faces? What if someone I knew came? Would my brain completely shut down in an Arctic freeze?

The day arrived and my turn came. I gulped some water, drew a breath and stilled my shaking hands. And had a blast. I talked about my experiences as an intern with a media production company after college, learning how to create scripts and do voiceover narration. I followed that with my work as a voice artist and writer/editor for a local non-profit’s Internet radio drama for five years. I elaborated on both, adding some anecdotes into the mix. A couple of friends did show up and they said that I did well, and didn’t appear nervous at all.

We panelists were paid a modest honorarium, which was my first. And the panel was asked to participate in this year’s state conference, which includes free registration, meals and an honorarium. Along with opportunities to network with other state writers and attend various workshops.

Like my writing, I’m just getting started in this area. I’ll gain more confidence and experience as I take advantage of more engagements. So will participation in Toastmasters International, which I’ve been looking into.

Soon, I’ll begin to prepare for next month’s conference. I may have some jitters, especially since the venue will be a conference center. I’ve presented before and I’ll see familiar faces, since some of the conferees attended last August’s panel.

A writer who also speaks. Looks like another aspect to add to my writing life.


Marcia Peterson said...

Jill, I can relate to all that you're saying. You are so brave and it's paying off! Best of luck at the conference. :)

Annette said...

Jill, how wonderful! Congrats on your first speaking engagement!

Very few people know that's how I met Angela. Back in 2005, I spoke to a local writer's group about how to get an agent and she was in the group. Just before she launched WOW in Sept. 2006, she asked me to write an article for the first issue.

The rest, as they say, is history. =)

So, you never know where a speaking engagement will lead!

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