Here is a sketch for another chapter, one that I think is very important and rarely discussed:
How to talk intelligently about yourself and your music
Like everything else in this book, you can find more, and probably better, information and advice elsewhere. However, I don't want to simply gloss over the area of speaking intelligently about yourself and your music. Or anything else you may have to speak about, for that matter. Learn to work through your public-speaking fears with some of these classic techniques:
Practice in front of the mirror.
Picture the audience in their underwear.
There are lots of good public speaking books and classes. If you have severe fears of public speaking, they may be able to help. But, if you're reading this, you probably aren't at the point yet where you are being asked to present hour-long lectures on your music. Just a little background about yourself or this particular piece.
When you speak, the two most important rules are to 1) have something to say and 2) don't get too technical. It's not really worth it to go up and simply say "I wrote this, hope it's good." Who did you write it for? Who is performing it? What is your personal connection with that person? What inspired this piece - another composer? a painting? etc. It also may be marginally interesting to other composers what technical means you used to create the piece, but for the majority of the audience, they just want to hear it. Simplify your techniques as much as you can - I believe they are worth mentioning, as they are something to try to listen for. Just don't drone on about it.
It takes a little self-reflection to talk about your own music. I’ve thought about this quite a lot, even making lists of things I like to explore in my music. I have thought long and hard about not only the composers I enjoy, but who I can really see as an influence when I step back. Talking with other people casually can help with this too – since I have had at least two people tell me that my music reminded them of George Crumb and Toru Takemitsu, I know I can cite them as influences. I say this because I can cite Bach as an influence, but my music sounds much closer to Crumb than Bach. A good friend of mine can readily cite John Adams and Osvaldo Golijov - favorite composers, and also composers with distinctive styles similar to his own. This gives people a little insight into your compositional personality.
On my list of concepts and techniques that I explore, I thought about my pieces for the past few years and came up with ideas such as: twelve-tone technique, using geometry or poetry as a basis for musical structure, indeterminacy and improvisation, and algorithmic techniques. If that seems too technical for a particular audience, I could speak more in terms of my inspirations in visual arts (particularly abstract painting) and nature.