Saturday, April 10, 2021

On My Own by Jennifer J. Chow


All my speaking events after the launch of my Sassy Cat Mystery Series in March 2020 have been in partnership with others. I’ve either co-presented, been interviewed by someone, or participated in a group discussion. I don’t mind. I’m not particularly comfortable at solo speaking.


The opportunities to do virtual events in the Zoom-heavy world we live in are plentiful. A lot of speaking engagements no longer require travel—only a working webcam. When I received an invitation to appear at the Writer's Digest Mystery & Thriller Virtual Conference, I jumped at the chance. The only catch was that I needed to conduct a webinar . . . on my own.


I agreed because I’ve been wanting to say “yes” more in my life. I’ve decided I need to be more proactive in general and push myself toward growth.

WD Mystery & Thriller Virtual Conference

What does it take to prepare for an hour-long presentation? Apparently, a lot. Here’s a behind-the-scenes peek:


·         Title: First off, there needs to be a snappy title. I wanted my webinar to both capture the content involved and the mystery writing element of the conference. After brainstorming with Robert Lee Brewer at Writer’s Digest, we came up with “Solving the Mystery of Authentic Characters and Relationships.”

·         Content: It’s been a long time since I’ve made visual slides, but I threw myself into revisiting PowerPoint and trying out Google Slides. (I ended up going with the former.) In the presentation, I wanted to provide writing tips but also tie these to concrete examples. I read through recent novels to pick books that would exemplify different techniques and contacted each author involved to get their permission to summarize certain scenes. (On a positive side note: I also had fun taking some Bookstagram-like photos with these novels.)

·         Tech check: There are a lot of webinar programs out there. The one used for the conference was GoToWebinar, a platform I wasn’t familiar with. Thank goodness for Sue Johnson, who helped me to troubleshoot in the week before the virtual event. It turned out that I had to set up a variety of permissions for my computer to allow access to the webcam, files, etc.

·          Presentation Time: I triple-checked to make sure my slides worked. Having a cup of water nearby was also helpful. It’s amazing how dry your throat can get while talking. At the end, I also did a Q&A session, which I imagined felt much like doing improv. (While answering questions, I tried to stare at the camera lens, to create some sense of eye contact with the audience.)

The result of my first solo speaking event? I think it went pretty well. A few people even paid me compliments at the end of the session. Also, importantly to me, I left with a greater sense of confidence.


What kind of bold move have you made?



  1. Congratulations, Jennifer, on your solo debut. It's great that you took the chance and that with your preparation it went well.

    I remember when I volunteered to teach a bridge lesson for intermediate level players at the US National bridge tournament. Yikes! But, like you, I practiced my material, and only gulped once when I looked into the audience and spotted a nationally-know bridge teacher sitting there with one of his students.

  2. WOW, thanks for the education, Jennifer. And kudos on taking your reticence by the throat and having a successful event!

  3. Congratulations on a well-prepared and successful event!

  4. Congrats on what I know will be the beginning of many more solo events --

  5. Three cheers to you for your successful presentation! I'm so happy that it went well.

  6. Great job, Jennifer! Solo public speaking is definitely a bold move, even bolder done as a webinar where you can't see your audience. I hope you imagined them smiling at you in between madly jotting notes, because I bet they did.

  7. Thanks so much, Jim! A US National bridge tournament sounds intimidating!

    Kait: I definitely did take it by the throat. And thank you!

    Thanks so much, Margaret!

    Aww, so lovely of you to say, Debra!

    Hurrah for all the support, J.C.!

    I hope so, Molly. I think it being a *live* event also made me nervous.

  8. You were so wise to leave your comfort zone. That's often when we learn the most. I went back to school to get a graduate degree at age 47. I had to move three summers to a large university town by myself, and I ended up loving the experience. A Masters at age 50. Scary at first, but I learned a lot!

  9. So great to hear that you made this step forward and that it worked well for you!

  10. Susan: Wow! Huge congrats on being bold and getting your Masters!

    Thanks so much, KM!