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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll forward details when we have them.