The Trick of Talks

Delight or despair in it, there's no getting around it - if you're going to be a writer, you have to give talks about your work.

I very well understand the nerves that can set jangling. My first talk was to an audience of about ten, in a small library near Plymouth, and I was shaking so hard I wouldn't be surprised if I appeared to the group to be a blur.

Since then it's got easier, but that's only because of the input of our familiar friends; hard work and practice.

Just like everything else, giving talks gets better with experience. You realise what works and what doesn't, how to mix up anecdotes and insights, the poignant parts and the humour.

But for those who still find the idea of giving a talk like a dragon breathing flames of fear, I have a couple of thoughts. To illustrate the first, one of my little visual interludes -

Appledore vicky.jpg

This is me interviewing Vicky Pryce at the wonderful Appledore Book Festival last week (a great event, a beautiful place, I can highly recommend a visit in future years.)

Vicky had much to say, but didn't want to talk to an audience by herself, so I was asked to interview her. And that's a very good way to talk about your work if you're a little nervous about doing so in public.

Getting someone to ask you questions makes it a whole lot easier. Oranisers of any event will understand that and usually be happy to oblige.

The other option is just to say a little by way of introduction, or get someone else to do so, and then take questions. Again, that can feel far less intimidating than having to stand up for 40 minutes and talk.

But however you do it, it's well worth giving it a try. Not just for the obvious promotional reasons, but also that talking about your work can be very fulfilling.

Writing is often a lonely job. Having an audience share and appreciate what you do can, for days afterwards, give you a glow that helps to make the sacred words flow.