Award-Winning Editor of Clarkesworld Magazine, Forever Magazine, The Best Science Fiction of the Year, and More

Public speaking induced brain drain

The current Adventures in Scifi Publishing podcast introduces a new feature: Magazine Spotlight. For some unknown reason, Shaun decided that he’d start off this feature with Clarkesworld Magazine and interviewed me for the piece. I’ve never done a recorded or live interview before and found the experience a bit unnerving. It’s so much easier to come up with answers after the microphone is turned off and your brain is once again fully functional. Fortunately, Shaun was able to edit out some of my tongue-tied brainless moments and make it a lot better.

This whole experience has reminded me of how things were about 15 years ago. I was working for a university at the time and had to give regular presentations about our laptop program during admissions events and conferences. Public speaking scared the hell out of me, but after a while, I learned some coping mechanisms and eventually became comfortable with it. Unfortunately, I’m realizing now that these were visual in nature and don’t cross-over.

I don’t know that I’ll ever do something like this again, but it seems to me that I should be better prepared in the event that I do. Anyone have any advice to offer?


I wonder what the neighbors will think


Cover Art for the March Issue of Clarkesworld


  1. Offhand, my first panel, I believe it was a Readercon, my hands and legs were shaking so badly that I was certain that the audience could see them . . . but it got better the more I was prepped, and had ready answers. I’ve never done an audio interview like yours, and I probably have been avoiding them for many of the same reasons you have, because I’m not good at responding to questions off the cuff. However, it’s something that I do need to get over, and start doing, in any case . . . I suppose the best way is just suck it up and make it happen :p

    • It’s not necessarily the questions that I have a problem with. I could have been giving a canned presentation and still had trouble.

      I didn’t think it would be as hard to deal with people that aren’t there and all the little tricks I learned to survive public speaking rely on me being able to see the faces of the people I’m talking to. In that case, once I accept that the crowd isn’t going to kill me, I’m relaxed and can function normally.

  2. Maybe you could ask them to send you some of the questions beforehand so you can at least have some of the answers prepared. I guess the only real solution here is practice. And probably lots of editing on the podcaster’s part.

    • There was only one question that would have been nice to have had some time to think about in advance. I have to either learn to forget the audience or at least accept them as non-threatening. This probably has more to do with being bullied as a kid than anything else.

      Editing is my friend. One thing I have learned is that I shouldn’t be afraid to stop and start over on a question.

      Don’t know that I have much opportunity for practice. I can record myself without problem because I know no one is going to be listening.

      • You can always participate in more podcasts. =) By the time you get invited to talk about the magazine for the 100th time, the awkwardness should be gone.

        By the way, did you chat with your interviewer before hand? One practice among experienced podcasts is that they chat first with their guest because the initial conversation tends to be nervous.

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