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.
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.
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?