Public Speaking Tips

A microphone is in the foreground and empty seats are in the background for the post "Public Speaking Tips" from author Elizabeth Spann Craig.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

There are some writers I know who were born to be public speakers. They do a great job with audience engagement and can captivate a room.

Then there are the rest of us.  :)

As I’ve said before, I’ve definitely made my peace with public speaking by this time and have grown to enjoy it.  It’s has taken me years to finally embrace it (I’ll give a shout-out to Toastmasters, which provided a lot of help).

Here are some tips that I’ve learned along the way

Know your audience in advance.  I’ve learned that this is essential. Sometimes, for example, I’m speaking to beginner writers. Sometimes I’m speaking to writers who know a good deal about writing and promo.  If I mess up and make my speech too complex or too easy to understand, I’m going to lose audience interest and look unprepared. Usually the event organizer has some idea about who is going to be attending.  And, obviously, it’s also important to know if you’re speaking to writers or to readers.

Get Q&A questions in advance to spur others later.   If you’re speaking to a group, club, or organization, ask the event organizer to get some early questions.  Or you could pass out index cards to the audience before the event.

When preparing the speech, focus on value for the audience.  Once you know who the audience is, you can prepare a talk that will keep their interest with information that they find useful. This, to me, is half the battle of giving a good speech.

Arrive early.  Arriving early helps for a variety of reasons. It helps us in case something has gone wrong (sometimes there are technology issues) and it helps us because we can greet audience members as they come in (which helps allay nervousness).

Ask the audience a question as a warm-up.   When I speak to groups of readers, I’ll poll the audience by asking for a show of hands to a general question (for me, it’s usually ‘How many of you grew up reading mysteries?’). Not only is their answer interesting to me, but it usually functions as a great warm-up and gives me a little information about my audience.

Continue gauging audience interest.  If audience members start looking bored, sleepy, or restless, I’ll change direction and try something else.

Move. Instead of standing behind the podium, it can be helpful to move around to engage the audience better.  Although I think too much movement looks a little too restless.

If using a powerpoint, visuals are key. Reduce text.  Create visuals using free tools like VisualHunt and Canva to make your slides. It’s generally said that slides with too much text are overwhelming.

Pause for laughter. If people are laughing, it’s best to wait instead of trying to talk over them and cutting the moment short.

Consider adding more value by making your notes and links accessible to audience members on a password-protected page on your website. This tip is more useful when speaking to writers’ groups and conferences.

If you’re ready to do more public speaking, create a ‘speaking’ page on your website and include ‘speaker’ in your LinkedIn headline. If no one knows you’re available to speak, you’re likely not going to get many invitations.

Do you do much public speaking? What tips can you add?

Tips for public speaking: Click To Tweet

Photo credit: bionicteaching via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC

Twitterific Writing Links

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by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

A weekly roundup of the best writing links from around the web.

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 39,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Conferences and Events / NaNoWriMo

Creativity and Inspiration / Miscellaneous

Creativity and Inspiration / Inspiration

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10 Minute Marketing

10 Minute Marketing is a post from author Elizabeth Spann Craig.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Sometimes there is so much promo-related stuff to do that it can seem overwhelming.

And, once we actually feel as if we get a handle on everything, that’s when something changes. There’ll be a new marketing approach or a new platform to use.

For me, it’s been helpful if I approach promo the same way I approach writing a book. It’s sort of like the saying:  how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

If I can make at least a little progress each day, I feel as if I’ve really accomplished something.

It might be most helpful to make a list of things you want to update or areas you may want to learn more about.

Some of these tasks you may want to break down into several days of projects. Breaking them down makes them even less intimidating to tackle. For example, if you were completely new to Goodreads: read for 10 minutes about the site, set up a login, create your profile, link to your books, sign up for a giveaway, etc. Continue reading 10 Minute Marketing

10 Things You’ll Find in Every Bestselling Book

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By Sarah Juckes, @sarahannjuckes

What makes a bestselling book? And how can you, as a writer, ensure that your book is the very best it can be?

The answer will differ from genre to genre, but at The Writer’s Workshop, we’ve found there are some things that every good fiction book will include.

     1) A killer concept

What? Look at the most notorious books in the last ten years, and you’ll find an irresistible idea at the centre of each of them. Dan Brown’s hunt for the Holy Grail in The Da Vinci Code for example, was the perfect hook for his publishers to sell to the masses, as was McEwan’s Atonement and Smith’s White Teeth.

How? Is your concept going to capture attention? To answer this, you should first know your market inside out. What books are selling and why? Next, try to condense your concept into fifty words or less. Will this spark the interest of readers?

     2) Protagonist motivation

What? Most bestselling books are centred around one character – the protagonist. In every story, the protagonist must want something. This could be something simple like the acceptance of the people around you, as in the case of Wonder by R. J. Palacio, or it could literally be the difference between life and death.

How? Understand what your protagonist wants and make it matter to the reader, too. Ensure that it is clear and consistent throughout the book. If it doesn’t matter to the protagonist, then it won’t matter to the reader. Continue reading 10 Things You’ll Find in Every Bestselling Book

Twitterific Writing Links

Bluebird with beak open

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

A weekly roundup of the best writing links from around the web.

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 39,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Creativity and Inspiration / Miscellaneous

Creativity and Inspiration / Inspiration

Creativity and Inspiration / Inspiration / Reading as Writers

Continue reading Twitterific Writing Links