On Not Public Speaking

I decided last year that I was no longer accepting public speaking gigs. It’s on my identity site’s contact page. I still get the occasional request, and, sometimes, a query as to why I’ve decided that.

Well, it’s a big time sink for me, and right now I have to calculate everything I do against production schedules and writing time. And, frankly, there’s not enough money in public speaking to make me want to adjust my career balance. More often than not, there’s literally no money. Unless you’re famous, with a non-fiction book on the shelves, with a speaker’s agency behind you — and I ain’t none of those — public speaking is a thing you do for your own interest.

For me, that was meeting people, sometimes helping out (I’m never going to be anyone’s first choice, but sometimes events and festivals get stuck, so it’s nice to be able to get them out of a stressful bind), learning how to work to an audience and listening to new things.

It, however, ended up much like my experience of comics conventions, which I no longer attend. You show up, do your bit, and then everybody leaves and you sit on your own. Public speaking, for me, is mostly about losing three days of work and undertaking yet another adventure in room service food.

The audiences are very kind, and generally laugh at the bits that are supposed to be funny. But I increasingly found myself just sitting on my own somewhere, looking at my watch and counting down the time until I had to leave for the airport. It stopped being edifying or fun, and, honestly, if I’m just going to sit around alone for hours and days on end, I can do that much more comfortably at home.

And now I have a FAQ post to point to for the next time someone asks.