What makes a good public speaker? A strong voice? Lotsa guts? The gift of gab?
If you guessed any of these, you’d be right, but they’re the tip of the iceberg – literally, only the part you see. When I talk before a group, there’s much more involved, and since I’m flying across the country to keynote a women’s breakfast in California this week, I’m in the midst of it right now.
First, clothes. This heads the list because, if I have to buy something new, it may take a while. Most venues suggest business attire, though for a large evening event, I need something more dressy. Whatever I wear has to be flattering and comfortable. In the case of my talk this Friday, my hosts are going with black, yellow, and red, and suggested I not wear, say purple (which means my purple nail polish has to go, see below). I’m good with that.
Second, hair and nails. I hate to say it, but appearance matters when it comes to these engagements. Some groups actually rank you on it in a post-event report, meaning that it can affect future bookings. Hair and nails are part of the package, and they take pre-planning. If I have to head to the airport at two, a noon hair appointment is calling it close. In this case, I have one booked at nine in the morning, with nails the day before.
Third, speech. This is actually the most demanding part for an author. The host gives me a theme – sometimes relating to my fiction, sometimes breast cancer, sometimes a combo of the two. When I am limited to a specific time frame, say twenty-five minutes, I write out the entire speech to assure the right length, then read it over once or twice a day for several weeks until I can talk without actually reading word by word. California will be different. They’ve asked me to talk for an hour, and the atmosphere will be laid-back and fun, so I’m talking from a combination of a script and a detailed outline.
Fourth, travel arrangements. How do I get to and from the airport in Boston, then again in Los Angeles? How and when do I fly? Who meets me where? What’s a good contact phone number? My speaker’s agent actually helps with these plans, though I have to coordinate.
Fifth, packing. Since L.A. is so different from Boston, I’ve been monitoring the advance weather forecasts for weeks. Do I wear open-toed shoes or pumps? Stockings or leggings? A blazer, sweater, or shawl? And what to wear on the airplane, six hours each way. I never check luggage for this kind of trip, since I’m traveling on such a tight schedule that if luggage is lost, it’ll never catch up with me before my speech. Hair-dryer? Check. Make-up? Check. (You see my priorities.)
Sixth, what I leave behind. I’m talking about paying bills, buying fresh food for DH, prescheduling blogs, and madly working to add extra pages to Sweet Salt Air as compensation for missing two days of work.
Speaking of which, I’d better get back to it. Think of me Friday.