Talk Talk Talk

As freelancers, we spend so much of our time alone, inside our own heads doing our creative thing. That’s why at the end of last year, I set a goal for myself: in 2011 I would do more public speaking, more putting myself in the center of things. For me, speaking provides the perfect balance, the burst of extroversion to complement my natural introversion.

Like everyone, I grew up hating public speaking, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize that my frustration and awkwardness was rooted in my high school experiences, not to mention just the general awkwardness that comes from being a teenager.

It’s an entirely different ballgame to be a grown adult with something to say, as opposed to being 16 and reciting the soliloquy from Hamlet. Let’s face it: unlike high school, nobody is listening for transposed lines or missed words, and it’s not going on my permanent record.

Of course, there’s a pretty significant lag time between submitting a speaking proposal and actually doing the speaking, so the plans that I set in motion last December are just coming to fruition now. This month, in my biggest gig yet, I’ll be speaking to a group of 250-300 medical writers about how to present themselves as independent professionals, with the emphasis on “professional.” It’s a great chance for me to get out there and share the lessons that I’ve learned from being on my own, and to be an unofficial ambassador for the Creative Freelancer Conference. (Save the dates for next year: June 21-22, 2012 in Boston.)

Of course, when it rains, it pours. In the span of two weeks I’ll not only be speaking to the big gathering of writers, but I’ll also be coordinating a runners’ meetup in San Francisco before my half marathon; serving as a mentor to a dozen conference attendees; and spending two nights as a “ghost guide,” giving a series of two-hour tours of my town’s haunted sights on Halloween weekend. Needless to say, by the time November rolls around, I may be all talked out for the year… just in time to regroup and submit the proposals for 2012.

What have you been doing to bust yourself out of your introverted routine?

P.S. We know other freelancers who also want to speak to groups and we think the Creative Freelancer Conference should help you prepare for that. So there will be an opportunity to practice at CFC 2012. If you’re interested, let me know ( and we’ll forward details when we have them.

4 thoughts on “Talk Talk Talk

  1. Dominic

    Interesting point of view and I must admit that if I had an opportunity to speak about what I’ve learned as a freelancer I would probably be excited.

    Not that I would be 100% comfortable though the first few times 😉

  2. Alisa Bonsignore

    I’ll definitely let you know. The good news is that I’m so preoccupied with prep for my half marathon on Sunday that I’ve given up on tweaking my presentation. I’d had a whole plan set up initially, thinking that it would be a group of 50 or so. Then they told me that I was going to be in the big room. So much for the interactive portion of my program! But that’s what makes it interesting: finding ways to engage with that many people so that it feels like I’m speaking to them all individually (I call it the Luke Mysse approach). 🙂