Sure, some folks are naturally outgoing and entertaining, but that’s frequently NOT true of writers. After all, that’s why we’re sitting alone at home in front of our computers instead of in rehearsal at the local theater. So when it’s time to talk to people at an author fair or, even worse, at an interview, we panic.
Panicking during a conversation can hurt us in a lot of ways. We say dumb things. We regret saying dumb things which often prompts us to say even more dumb things. We blush and sweat, which makes us FEEL awkward and makes us LOOK sullen, angry and generally unpleasant, even though that’s not who we are at all!
But like everything else, conversation and interviews get easier with practice. So plan ahead and rehearse, just as if you were an actor or musician. Here are some tips:
Prepare a list of probable questions
If you are scheduled for an interview, they may provide you with a list before hand. If they don’t, go ahead and ask. They might prefer to be more “spontaneous,” but they might also give you a basic idea of what to expect. Which is better than being completely blindsided.
If you aren’t given a list of questions or if you’re set to attend an author fair or book signing, write your own list. Put on a reader’s persona: What sort of things would you ask an author?
Write out the answers to those questions
Since writing is what we do, go ahead and write down your answers. These aren’t lines for memorizing, just a process for putting your thoughts in order. Save them somewhere for reviewing later.
Stage a pretend interview or conversation
Get a friend or spouse to ask you questions. If you must, build up to an actual conversation by practicing in your head or talking to yourself in shower or in the car. Try different tones of voice, a well-placed chuckle, hand gestures. This is like actors “workshopping,” not a real performance.
Consider recording yourself with your phone
But don’t compare yourself to a celebrity personality. (Although some celebrities do give pretty awkward interviews!) You aren’t looking to nitpick, you’re looking to just smooth things over a little. Like reminding yourself to talk slower or find something to do with your hands.
Being interviewed or conversing with readers isn’t the same as giving a presentation, but it can be stressful. With just a little bit of prepping before hand, you’ll feel “I’ve got this” instead of panicking. The confidence you feel will show in your conversation, which is very attractive! Who wouldn’t want to buy a book from someone like that?