But frequently in our role as author, we’re asked to make a presentation at conferences, book clubs (which I really like to do), or writing groups. So I thought a quick rehash of some general PUBLIC SPEAKING HINTS might be in order.
The following ideas will, I hope, help you be comfortable when you get asked to make a presentation. Just like with writing, the more you make presentations, the more comfortable you’ll get with it. It’s definitely a learn by doing skill.
- Know what the time limit is. (Do not go over one bit. You will throw off their timing. You can go under, but not by a ton. Ask if you speaking before or after the meal.
- Know what exactly they are expecting of you. Do they want to know your writing process? Are they more interested in how you do Social Media? Do they want you to talk about how you come up with your characters? Or how you plan for a series? Or maybe they want you to talk about something else you know a lot about: painting, selling, public schools, etc.
- Will you have the availability of media? Lots of folks expect a power point presentation of some sort. You need to know if the group expects that. This is not my strength, but I could pull it off. Would just take me a long time. 🙂
- Plan what you want to say. For those of you who are pantsers, this might be difficult. But remember you have a time limit. You don’t have to write it all out. Though in the beginning, this can be helpful, and I usually do even now. It helps get make my ideas concrete and keeps me from rambling—something I’m known for. 🙂 Then I can fiddle with the arrangement and examples and make my words more precise. (Oh gosh, this sounds a lot like our edits when we’re writing. 🙂 )
- Practice what you’re going to say out loud. Stand in front of the mirror in your bathroom and practice out loud, several times. I promise you, this works. This hint applies to any time you’re planning to read a section from one of your books. The more you read it out loud the better you become. Don’t go too fast or too slow. Vary the rate of delivery and use inflection. Don’t read the words in a monotone—you’ll put your audience to sleep. And make sure you’re loud enough.
- Plan for questions. I like people to ask during the presentation. Makes it more interactive. But if you’re not comfortable with that, make sure you tell the audience you’ll answer their questions at the end. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” You can always find out later and let the person who asked you to speak know what the answer is. They can pass it on to their members. Repeat the question out loud, so everyone in the group can hear it.I put this in bold because I think it’s so important. If the audience can’t hear, they will quickly lose interest and begin to chat among themselves. If the question is very specific to the person and no one else could give a fig, tell the questioner you’d be happy to talk to them personally after the presentation.
- Last. It’s okay to be afraid, scared, nervous with the butterflies in the stomach.
That’s natural. Even professional performers experience a bit of what’s called “stage fright.” Just don’t let it keep you from stepping out and doing.
Okay, what experiences have you had making presentations? What was the last presentation you made? Do you have hints of your own?
My next book will release sometime this fall, THE THEATRE. Don’t have the cover, but I love this story of a soap opera star returning to her small Texas hometown to help out the theatre that gave her her start.
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