“I used to be incredibly afraid of public speaking. I started with five people, then I’d speak to 10 people. I made it up to 75 people, up to 100, and now I can speak to a very large group, and it feels similar to speaking to you one-on-one.” — Robin S. Sharma
As writers are expected to perform more marketing tasks to promote their books, speaking ability becomes more crucial. Being prepared is key in holding the jitters to a healthy level and feeling confident.
- Consider your audience before you develop a new talk or rework one you’ve already presented.
Why it makes sense: Wouldn’t it be nice to know the person you approach at a social gathering is a widow before you start promoting your book on saving marriages? It’s the same with a larger audience.
- Ask for the demographics of the audience.
- Gear your humor, illustrations, and focus to your audience.
- Give lead-ins where necessary; don’t assume attendees know things.
If your audience feels comfortable with you, you’ll receive more smiles and nods of encouragement.
- Include stories—from your personal life and those you’ve collected.
Why it makes sense: You’re a writer. You know people enjoy listening to and learning from stories.
- some should be funny (not jokes!)
- some should touch emotions
- personal ones should also be universal so the audience identifies
- they should fit the theme or lesson of the talk
- they should have a point
- they should be told, not read
- they should include details, e.g. my skeptical girlfriends vs. my women friends
- real-life ones should include twists or exaggeration for greater pay off—emotional or humorous (writer’s license, but don’t veer too far from the truth)
If you know your stories, you have less to freeze up on.
- Write out your talk, record it, rewrite it, and practice, practice, practice.
Why it makes sense: These help you get to what will work for you on stage. And, you’re mapping out your audience’s experience and takeaway.
- Tell the audience what you’re going to say, say it, and then tell them what you said.
- Keep your talk focused; refuse to ramble.
- Search for the right words:
- For more power, use words starting with hard consonants (gripped vs. held; his lip curled vs. his lip rose)
- For humor, look for funny words (gussied up vs. dressed nicely)
- Work on pauses and natural-looking gestures.
If you’ve thought out your talk ahead of time and practiced, practiced, practiced, your talk will be like singing a song you know. And, you won’t be making decisions of what to say on stage.
- Tell a Self-deprecating humorous story.
Why it makes sense: People like to laugh. And these stories help people connect with you.
- It’s all right to be vulnerable, but avoid confessions for shock value.
- Even tough life-moments can be written in a humorous manner and make a point or inspire.
- Telling a relevant, humorous self-deprecating story can give the audience a rest from hard, emotional stuff you’ve just covered.
If you tell funny stories on yourself, you may feel more comfortable that you aren’t picking on anyone else. They may be easier to tell because you know what happened and how you felt.
Tips to help introverted writers give confident talks. Click to tweet.
What is the one part of speaking that scares you the most?