Every part of my job – writing, speaking, acting – is about connecting with an audience. Sometimes that’s through the page, sometimes it’s in one-to-one coaching or group workshops, other times it’s a large room of total strangers. That’s one of the reasons for the word I wear around my neck.
Hineini literally translates as ‘here I am’, or ‘I am here’, less literally as ‘bring it on’. It turns up when characters are invited out of their comfort zone. For me, it’s a reminder of the key to a successful audience relationship. Focus on your objective of connection and communication, not on your worries about how you’re coming across, and welcome the audience into your space. That’s what being ‘in the moment’ is all about, whether you’re on a stage, podium, or the end of a phone. A good performer or presenter is a ‘present’ one.
The idea of Hineini featured in my Limmud North America workshop on 13 June – but even more so in my preparation for it! The session was based on my series The E.I. of Sci-fi (Starburst Magazine, Episode 5 dropping 9 July). I was presenting Jewish Ethics in Science Fiction, ideas that conceived the series. But I was still out of my comfort zone. It was my first Limmud session, and I’d watched others I admire do it wonderfully over the decades! It took a lot of reminding myself to move away from comparing myself and share what I prepared, thought and loved. That authenticity was reciprocated: even over Zoom, you see your story resonate in people’s smiles. Several even asked for a reading list at the end – a big compliment to a speaker! But even then, my brain harnessed what ifs: would they be disappointed it was mostly internet links, that there weren’t books out there doing what I was doing? So when I emailed the list I thanked them for making me realise just that – as now I plan to write one!
Your audience doesn’t want perfect. Your audience wants you. Impostor syndrome is entirely natural – and is a better alternative to overconfidence, which can mean forgetting the audience is the reason you’re up there in the first place. Hineini is a reminder we can’t control or predict what anyone else might think. What we can do is share our stories authentically.
This month in Writing
It’s nearly a month since the launch of my debut short story collection Beyond Glass, which includes my prize-winning 2016 story Wolf in the Mirror. You can order from your local bookshop, or directly from the publisher. If you enjoy it, I’d be thrilled if you’d post a review on Amazon! You can also catch me this month in the current issue of The Dark Side magazine, talking about how I upped my game as a writer through engaging with horror, and in Jewish Renaissance talking more about how Jewish stories and ethics influence my writing, coaching and presenting.
This month in Coaching
1:1 writing/life coaching continues over the summer (although LAMDA Exams and 11+/GCSE English and Drama take a break for school holidays).
On Saturdays from 3 July, I’m running a new memoir and fiction course, Write From Life. Explore techniques for turning the everyday – and the extraordinary – into strong, unique material. Everyone who writes or wants to write is very welcome. Book here!
Communication and performance are the world’s most transferable skills. There’s no job or conversation where they don’t apply. If you’d like to develop your voice, on the page or out loud, I’d love to hear from you.