Man, am I glad that I’m through with last week! For some reason, the stars aligned so that I had three public-speaking gigs that stressed me out quite a bit. I suppose highly successful people who regularly do this kind of thing get used to it, but for me it caused some dread and some lost sleep, and I’m sure it didn’t help my slightly elevated blood pressure.
My approach to speaking is that I tend to do as little as possible as far as preparation, because I don’t like putting time and effort into it. But overall I’d say things went pretty well, and I wasn’t nervous once I got going with each speaking gig—in fact, I’ve sort of reached the point where I somewhat enjoy rambling in front of a captive audience, such as my writing classes at UVSC. Here’s a rundown:
Fox News Radio: This was my most personally stimulating and rewarding event of the three. I was pretty nervous to go live on national radio and deal with unanticipated questions about Mormonism, but I felt reasonably calm and capable during the interview, and I got fantastic feedback from family members and coworkers who thought I handled it well. The hosts were nice, but the callers were all anti-Mormon. I actually sort of felt a pleasant buzz from talking about Mormonism in this national venue, and I might like to do more, maybe even try TV sometime. I’ve been thinking about hiring a publicist to put my name out there as an expert on Mormonism who gives candid, accurate interviews, but that would cost thousands of dollars. Maybe if Mitt Romney gets the Republican nomination…
Snow College Convocation: I spoke about my Mormon writing and publishing efforts to a group of about 150 students, plus a few faculty members and people from the community. I put some effort into creating a PowerPoint presentation—my first PowerPoint ever, actually—and easily filled the 45 minutes (in fact, I had to skip over a couple of slides), but I don’t know how interesting it was to the audience. I don't think people that age think much in terms of books or literature anymore. Certainly I noticed no surge in sales of my books afterward… But hey, it was good for me to do, and I was paid $300 plus an enjoyable lunch.
Salt Lake Book Festival: This ate up my whole Saturday because I rented a table for $120 but sold only about $50 worth of books, so it was kind of a bust. Midday I did a presentation with Carol Lynn Pearson, which went okay. She gave a much more focused, powerful message than I did—however, I still think she's too easy on the gays—and I’m sure the majority of the 30–40 people in attendance came to see her. I did not participate in any festival events beyond my own, because I just didn’t have the time or energy. I would have liked to meet the author Walter Kirn and hear him speak, but I didn’t get around to it. Frankly, the older I get, the less I like sitting through meetings and lectures of any kind. I’d rather be doing my own thing in front of a computer, listening to my favorite music and waiting for interesting e-mails to come.
Anyway, it’s such a sweet feeling of relief to be done with that week! It helped me not to feel so bad about my lack of bigger success, because success begets these stressful engagements and I’d just as soon do without them. It was good to stretch myself as a public speaker, and maybe these events helped strengthen my authorial reputation, if not my immediate book sales.