I know a woman who stares. She doesn’t just look at me while we’re talking, she runs her eyes from my toes right up to the top of my head, and then back again. Everytime we have a conversation. I’m starting to get paranoid, except that she does it to everyone.
If she only looked at something I was wearing, or did the body-stare just once in a while, I might not feel so self-conscious when I’m around her, but the full body scan is intimidating. And really, she’s the nicest person anyone could know. So why all the checking-me-out stuff? I get this overwhelming urge to just walk away. I can’t take it.
Now, imagine this happening while you’re doing a book talk or presentation.
Yes, that’s exactly what happens when you have an audience staring at you for ten minutes, twenty minutes, or three days (because that’s what it feels like sometimes). They’ll look at you. They’ll really look at you, and you have to act all cool and relaxed. Don’t let them see you sweat, and all that. Trust me, a deodorant slogan isn’t going to help, not really.
When you’re the focus of attention, people are going to look at you. You can’t announce at the beginning, “Uh, if you could all avert your eyes while I tell you about my book, please, I’d appreciate it”. Wait, maybe you can. It might be an interesting hook. If it works for you, please let me know. I’d love to hear how you do it!
DO I LOOK FAT IN THIS?
So, when you’re getting ready to do a book talk, presentation or other event in public, consider what you’re going to wear very carefully. Don’t just throw on any old thing before running out the door. Clean clothes, neat clothes, clothes without holes or stains are all very desirable. Don’t go for anything flashy if you don’t normally wear it. You’ll feel too obvious and end up tugging at your shirt or jacket the entire time. And really, that’s just going to call MORE attention to what you’re wearing. Keep it simple and comfortable. Unless you’re a presenter at the Oscars or during Fashion Week in Paris. Then, yes, wear something flashy and uncomfortable. It’s all about the clothes at that point, not you, no matter how fabulous you are. (Except if you’re George Clooney. George, I don’t think anyone would care if you showed up in flip flops and greasy overalls. Not at all. Wait, while I have you here, George, would you mind dropping me a quick comment below. Just so I can tell my mom you really read this and everything. Thanks.)
Anyway, stop worrying about how you look while you’re up in front of people talking about your wonderful book. Kids don’t care. Adults care, but they’ll quickly forget about it if you’re interesting. You don’t look fat. You don’t look old. You don’t look weird. That’s all in your head, and it’s taking up all the space you need to keep your presentation on track. If you’re thinking about your muffin top (unless you’re hawking a cookbook!), then you’re not thinking about what you’re really there for…..and that’s the wonderful experience of talking to people who want to know about you and your book. If you get home and can’t remember anything about your event except that you hated what you were wearing, you’ve lost the plot! Go get it back! (Get some black pants and a black sweater…..you’ll look slim, mysterious and New York artsy-fartsy. Solves all your problems.)
While I’m slogging away at the library this weekend, I hope you’re out shopping for that great new presentation outfit! Why not post a picture of it on my Facebook page to show me what you’re planning on wearing? I’d love to see, and maybe it’ll give all of us a few ideas for our next presentations! (Just click on that “f” in the top right hand corner of this page. It’ll take you right to my author page.)
See you next Tuesday with another post in my Presentations in 145 Easy Steps! series.