Jane Green
The Official Home of New York Times Bestselling Author


August 8th, 2016

Jane Green SpeechI have just come back from an author event where I had to make a 15-minute speech, and no matter how many times I do it, I am always struck by horrific nerves before I get on stage. It is fine once I start, but the bit beforehand is awful.

I never thought making speeches would be part of the job requirements as a writer, but over the past 20 years I have realised how important it is to give a good presentation.

Years and years ago I was invited to take part in a ‘book-reading’ with a number of other authors, each of whom was older than I, and far more experienced.

It was in a packed theatre in a city in America, and I duly had my novel in hand, with the page I was reading from bookmarked. The first author stood up and spoke. He did not read at all; he told hilarious stories that had the packed audience cracking up, before he moved to moving, insightful tales of what his writing meant, and why he was a writer.

The second writer stood up, and did not read. She spoke, with great warmth, about the childhood that inspired her memoir, which was inspirational, wise and funny.

And then there was me. I shuffled up to the stage, feeling sick. These days, I have many stories that have been told so many times, I know them off by heart. You could drop me into an event with no notice and I would be able to pull off a speech. In those days, I couldn’t. I had no speech. I only had my dog-eared book, and I wasn’t even a great reader (something else I have had 20 years to work on). I shuffled up to the podium and began reading. I read for about 20 minutes, which was far too long. I could almost feel the energy in the room drop to nothing, but I had no idea what to do, so I gamely carried on until the end, whereupon the crowd woke up and gave me a cursory round of applause.

At least I wasn’t drunk. A few years ago I went to a fundraiser and the interior designer who was giving the keynote speech was drunk. At breakfast. She stood on stage and rambled incoherently about all kinds of odd, disjointed things, as people made their excuses and left.

Luckily for me, I have never had that problem because, thanks to migraines, alcohol and I do not get on. However, someone recently mentioned that tequila is fine for migraines. So if you happen to see me at an author event and I haven’t yet spoken, and there happens to be a bottle of tequila nearby, would you mind sliding it out of the way? I know I’d be tempted, and who knows what odd, disjointed things I would say.

(This article was first published in The Lady Magazine.)


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