Barbara Barrett

Romance at Work

Thoughts from the Treadmill: Performance

I did it! Last week, I told how I was preparing to speak to a group at Stetson University in Celebration, Florida about writing romance novels. That happened this past Wednesday. I got through all my treadmillmaterial, elicited several thoughtful and pertinent questions from the audience, and finished on time. I even received numerous compliments from those who were there. Not too bad. Considering that my printer stopped working just as I went to print off my slides and I walked off without my notecards, it was a pretty darn good experience for me.

It was a bit like taking my comps when I went after my MA in History years ago. Scary proposition, but once I’d passed “Go,” I was on a roll, sharing my knowledge and opinions. In short, it was fantastic!

So, what did I learn from this experience? First, believe in yourself. Despite great planning, the unanticipated will happen, but if you’re prepared and passionate about your topic, you’ll get through it. In fact, it’s sometimes those “accidents” that make you more human, more approachable to your audience.

I also learned that, if it’s operating properly, technology can be your best friend. Working ahead of time with the school’s A-V guru, we were able to set up the projector so that the slides were centered and focused. The remote worked anywhere. Didn’t need to aim it at one tiny point to advance my slides. Finally, the wireless lavalier mic. Never worn one that wasn’t plugged in somewhere, preventing free movement. That freedom to be out amongst the audience at times was, uh, freeing. It allowed me to relax and totally enjoy myself.

performance revAnother thing I learned was the importance of “visioning.” I didn’t do a “dry run” insomuch as delivering my presentation out loud beforehand. That isn’t my style. I freak when something has to be rehearsed in advance with each word being the same each time. I’m a more spontaneous presenter. Instead, I envision my speech in my head, focus on the main points (that’ what bullet points are for) and then articulate my thoughts in the moment. I like “asides,” off-the-cuff comments that occur to me as I go along. Most of the time they add depth and humor.

I learned it’s great to have friends. They come and support you, even if they don’t read (or even like) romance novels.  I didn’t glance their direction often, or I found myself trying to please them, which deflected my focus, but having those friendly faces in the audience gave me peace of mind. stetson 2

Finally, I learned that I’m still learning. As I hit each bullet point and framed my comments about it, I realized there were still some items I needed to know more about. For instance, what is “voice”? I know what it is when I read it, but I didn’t describe it as well as I would have liked. On the other hand, I knew more than my audience, and that’s what counted.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and would willingly consider doing it again. Every so often, it’s important to put yourself “out there” to see how well you fly.

On Saturday, I attended a panel presentation, “Bootcamp for Newbies,” put on by my local writers’ chapter, SpaceCoast Authors of Romance in West Melbourne, FL. Four of our members, Roxanne St. Claire, Kristen Painter, Leigh Duncan and Elle Saint James, who each are multi-published, covered some of the same topics I did on Wednesday. It was gratifying to find out how closely my presentation paralleled theirs, though not as entertaining or humorous.

And He Cooks Too is now official! The Wild Rose Press, my publisher, launched it last Friday.

Photo by Leslie Sloan

Photo by Leslie Sloan

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