Director, Author Services, LinDee Rochelle, January 19, 2011
Reality: That statement is only half-true. It is true, most authors are passionate about their books and in a one-on-one encounter are completely comfortable to regale you with its best attributes (until your eyes roll). But put most of us behind the podium in a roomful of people with eyes front waiting for eloquent words of epiphany, and the world stands still.
I’m no psychologist, but my conjecture is many writers write—especially fiction storytellers—because it’s a solitary pursuit and takes them away from the daily human bombardment. So public speaking is often public enemy #1.
But speaking of ones, Book Marketing 101 tells us we must become comfortable holding court in public arenas in order to promote our books and engage potential new readers.
As an author you can learn, lament, and laugh over many a comrade’s tales of public panic and embarrassment, and the personal elation of successes; but the wad of fear in your throat is no laughing matter, when you rise for the first time (or tenth) to speak on behalf of your book.
“On behalf” you ask? Tip: When you’re invited to speak or land a public appearance, you have a better chance of a successful event if you do not simply talk about your book and how great it is. The real topic of your presentation should be either the expertise or insight you have acquired in the writing of your book which is worth sharing to a broad audience, or the book’s compelling topic that relates to today’s news. Never about the book itself.
Oh, all right … but how do we get rid of the lump in our throats?
There are tons of blogs, articles, organizations, and websites devoted to public speaking. I was introduced to the power of author public speaking when I booked presenters for my writers’ conferences sponsored by the creative organization I founded while in Phoenix for a while.
For one conference in early 2000s, I booked a comic. No, he wasn’t a “relief comic,” to lighten our moods following intense learning. Tim Davis was my keynote speaker. And I for one, learned more from him than any presenter on this topic before or since.
A stand-up comic, Tim was just beginning to build his business as a corporate coach for public speaking, and he volunteered, guaranteeing I wouldn’t be sorry. I never turn down free. And I certainly wasn’t sorry. We never had so much fun at a conference. Of course he made us laugh, but he also taught us to laugh at ourselves, and through comedic techniques, how to minimize the number of presentations where we’re laughed at—not with.
“When a comedian and the audience are in sync, it’s like cheek to cheek dancing,” says Tim’s website, defining rhythm. “Not only is every joke working, but even the set-ups are making everyone scream.”
Though he speaks of comedy, it’s true for anyone attempting to connect with an audience. Tip: It’s imperative that you develop the skill to read the emotion in the room as you step up to face their scrutiny. Every appearance and interview will be different, and though you have prepared what you hope is a dynamic presentation, be ready to make adjustments based on that first vibe.
Once you’ve published your book it’s time to step out of your author’s cave and mingle. Let the sparkle you possess on the inside shine through to the outside …
Speak up authors, and wow the crowd! … LinDee
Where to learn more about public speaking:
National Speakers Assoc. – local chapters help you learn and obtain speaking engagements http://www.nsaspeaker.org/
Toastmasters International – local chapters offer tips & techniques, and speaking opportunities
Advanced Public Speaking Institute – newsletter and list of free articles and pre-presentation checklist
Author Insider-Tips for Successful Speaking Engagements
Where to find public speaking opportunities:
Author Insider-Sources for Author Speaking Engagements
Writing and Publishing News by Patricia Fry – tips and opportunity ideas
Entrepreneur – though based on corporate needs, some good speaking opportunity thoughts, in general
Public Speaking Information – good information about speaking on the college circuit level