OK, I confess to having been one of those people who would rather be hung out to dry than risk making a fool of myself in front of a lot (meaning two or more!) people. But then, since public speaking is the number-one fear in America, I suppose I’m not alone, right? With that in mind, read on for a “teaser” excerpt on this subject from the upcoming loose-cannon, tight-ship book.
One day when I was talking with my friend Linda about my pitiful book sales, she presented me with an idea.
“People need to know you’re out there,” she explained.
I know now I should have stopped her then and asked exactly where “out there” was, since I’ve always wondered and it would have been a great way to change the subject before she really went off the deep end. Unfortunately, I didn’t say anything and lost my window of opportunity. To this day I’ve never discovered where “out there” is, and the next thing I knew she was talking about the well known but otherwise unidentifiable “they,” who obviously live in some uncharted location “out there.” That’s about the time I realized the conversation was heading in a direction I did not want to go.
“They need to know you have some great books that would really bless and encourage them,” Linda continued. “I was thinking that if you started going around to different church and civic groups and speaking about your books, then…”
Her mouth was still moving, but I no longer heard her. My brain shut down at the word “speaking.” How could I have been so wrong about someone? Where had I gotten the idea that this so-called friend actually knew me? Very obviously she didn’t, or she wouldn’t have used the “s” word in reference to something she thought I should do. My head was reeling, and I could hear my heart pounding in my ears, but I knew I had to pull myself together and tell her exactly why her idea was the worst one to come down the pike since the unveiling of the Yugo.
Linda was still talking, her enthusiasm growing as she expounded on her plan to “launch” me into public speaking. I held up my hand. “Stop,” I said, feeling very much like a helpless traffic cop trying to halt a runaway eighteen-wheeler. “I don’t do that.”
She frowned. “Don’t do what?”
“Speaking. I don’t speak to people.”
Her frown deepened. “That’s ridiculous. You’re speaking to me. What am I, a telephone pole?”
“Very funny. You know what I mean. And besides, that’s really not the issue here. You’re talking about my going out on some half-baked lecture tour, selling my books like I was hawking snake oil—”
“Oh, please,” she said, interrupting my tirade. “Don’t you think you’re overreacting a bit? I didn’t say anything about a lecture tour. No offense, but you’re not that big a deal. Lecture tours are for people with credentials and well-known names. Sorry, but that’s just not you.”
We all know when we’ve been nailed with the truth, and besides, I asked for that one. But that didn’t make it hurt any less. I may not have wanted to do public speaking, but I didn’t want anyone telling me I’d have a tough time getting invited to do so at anything bigger than a Tupperware party.
“Fine,” I conceded. “So what’s this big idea of yours? If no one would come and hear me speak, why should I even try? How is it going to help my book sales if I go somewhere to speak and no one shows up? It would be embarrassing.”
She laid her hand on my arm. “Weren’t you just telling me the other day how you’ve been learning that it’s not about you, it’s about God? All I’m saying is, why not at least pray about this and see what happens.” She shrugged. “Hey, your books aren’t selling anyway, so what have you got to lose?”