No Fear Public Speaking Tips for Writers

English: Rajagopal speaking on October 2, 2007...

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Writing isn’t just about putting your story to paper, finding an agent, publisher or even self-publishing. It’s about sharing your work with others. And with that comes public speaking. Yes indeed, it’s the old “I gotta get out in front of people and talk about my book” ploy. It’s not easy for a lot of writers to do. Surprisingly enough, many writers don’t even think about it until they get in front of a group of people for the soul purpose of talking to their target audience about their beloved project that has taken them a long time or even a short time to produce.

Cat Woods offers up some great tips on how you can feel comfortable and confident sharing your writing in front of others.

Connect the Dots for a Successful Public Presentation

by Cat WoodsFast Fact: Public speaking is not high school speech class.Evidence: Me

During my demonstration speech (you know, the one where you can’t even hang on to your note cards because you have to SHOW how something is done?), I crushed the eggshell I was supposed to decorate.

After another I shook so badly, I couldn’t walk back to my seat in a straight line.  If a cop had been present, I’d have landed a DWI for sure.

As far as I was concerned, the word speech should have been reserved for tenth grade English and diagramming sentences.  Since that time, however, I’ve presented at social organizations, professional organizations and Young Writers’ Conferences.  I’ve found myself at the front of the room in libraries, schools and churches.

The moral of this story: If I can speak in public, so can you.  It’s as simple as connecting the dots.

  1. Connect with your topic.  You’re a writer.  You’re passionate about the process, the business, literacy, your book, your genre, your audience, etc….  Whatever you are speaking about, make sure you are engaged in the topic.  You must first believe before you can ask others to do the same.
  2. Connect with yourself. Before entering a room, take a deep breath. Give yourself a pep talk. You are smart, funny, warm and compassionate. You know this topic like the road map of veins on the top of your hand.  Stand confidently, no matter how uncertain you feel.  And for heaven’s sake, wear clothes you like.  If your new suit is stiff, you’ll be stiff.
  3. Connect with your audience.  Right off the bat, you must personalize your presence with the guests in the room.  Smile—the kind that reaches your eyes and not just turns the corners of your mouth.  Maintain solid eye contact.  Make each individual in your audience feel as if you notice them and are personally thrilled that s/he is here.  Your audience’s comfort level has a direct impact on your comfort level.  Breaking the ice is your job.
  4. Connect your audience to your topic.  This could be the single most important connection you make in a presentation.  To keep audience members from memorizing the vein patterns on the backs of their hands, you must engage them immediately and make them feel as if they have a stake in the presentation.  Give them a reason to be there and a reason to listen.  Make it personal.
  5. Connect with the energy and use it to guide your presentation.  Watch your audience for cues on when to elaborate or when to gloss over something.  Presentations are not about you.  They are personal experiences between your audience and your topic.  You are the messenger.
So, how do we connect the dots in a way that draws a cohesive picture and would garner A’s from our English teachers of high school past?We must do a little research.  We must know our audience and the reason behind our presentations.  We must have clear goals.  We must care so deeply about our topics that we can allow our presentations to meander within the confines of our expectations.Last week I spoke to a fourth grade class.  January was the teacher’s month to help her students make a real world connection between what they learn in school and how this knowledge is necessary and applicable into adulthood. Read more here.