Last week, I was invited to read at the 6th Annual Edgy Moms Event, part of the acclaimed Brooklyn Reading Works series. This pre-Mother’s Day jam drew more than 50 people to hear six short stories written by local author moms—and the last person up was me, reading my 1994 opus, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Barbie (Sort Of).”
I was naturally a little nervous, but the piece, about struggling with my then-five-year-old daughter’s crush on Barbie, got a wonderful reception.
A Public Speaking Failure
So what did I do then? Did I say, “If you liked this story, you’ll love my novel”?
Did I say, “I’ve also brought copies of my novel, to sell and sign”?
No. What I said about my beloved novel was… (you can see this one coming, right?) nothing.
Why Self-Promotion Feels Hard—and How To Overcome That
I’ve thought a lot about how I made this elemental and embarrassing mistake, and two things come to mind:
- I’m an introvert. No matter how good we get at “pseudo-extroverting,” we don’t really like to talk about ourselves. So in a situation where all else is equal, we’re likely to “forget” to do so.
- More importantly, I let that situation happen, because I practiced the wrong thing.
What’s Your Larger Public Speaking Goal?
Yes, I practiced reading my story out loud until I knew that I could nail it. That was the good part. But I neglected to also practice asking people to buy The Tattooed Heart. That slipped by me because:
- It felt hard, and
- I was focused on the immediate goal of reading my story, and not on the larger goal of building an audience.
Public speakers do this all the time. We think, “I’m going to give a speech,” instead of “I’m going out to build my reputation.” We think, “I have to practice my remarks” instead of “I have to practice asking for what I want.'”
This is an understandable mistake. But it can be prevented, if you:
- Practice saying the thing that’s hardest.
- Practice asking for what you want.
- Practice focusing on the big picture, and your true goals in giving this speech.
Public Speaking and Self-Promotion
I’ve made this mistake (and written about it) before, and I really don’t want to make it again.
So is third time the charm? Will my hot tips really work? I’ll work on it, and let you know!