Public Speaking Phobia Pool

Last month, the Penguin Random House library marketing team put together an incredible event at the Penguin Random House headquarters. They hosted over one hundred librarians from the tri-state area and invited four authors to introduce their book to them. I was so honored to be chosen as one of the authors and beyond excited to get the chance to tell the librarians a little bit about me and my book, Only Child.

But as excited I was to have this opportunity to speak directly to the librarians (librarians are my idols!)—I was NERVOUS, too. Because when I say public speaking and I don’t mesh, I’m making the biggest understatement of the year (2017, that is.) And this event was taking me and tossing me right into the deepest of deep ends of the public speaking phobia pool. “You know what they say,” my oldest son said to me the morning of the event (as I tried to make myself look presentable while getting three kids bundled into coats, hats, and gloves, and out the door with something that qualifies as an acceptable lunch,) “Picture them naked.”

When I arrived at the Penguin Random House event space, I and the other authors were led to a table at the front of the room, facing the audience. I was seated next to Amy Bloom (awkward fan moment…) and looked for a few friendly faces in the audience I could focus on while giving my speech. That was actually the easiest part of the whole morning because all the faces were friendly and smiled encouragingly. Really, if you have to take the plunge, starting in front of an audience of librarians is the way to go.

Camille Perri and Lauren Hilgers were up before me and introduced their books “When Katie Met Cassidy” and “Patriot Number One” (I scored signed advance copies and can’t wait to dive in) and then it was my turn. Sweaty, shaky knees, a somewhat malfunctioning microphone…but I made it through. It was actually fun, a little bit. And when Amy went up after me, crushing her speech of course, I was proud of myself. I took the plunge, I jumped straight into the deep end; and while I didn’t perform the perfect, graceful backstroke, I didn’t drown either. And I totally forgot to imaginary-undress my audience.

If you want to see my inaugural plunge, you can watch the video below (that is Carole Baron, my wonderful editor and friend, introducing me at the beginning.) 

Rhiannon Navin