Confidence-Building Public Speaking Tips for Introverted Writers

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

image by GooKingSword
image by GooKingSword

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.

  1. Consider your audience before you develop a new talk or rework one you’ve already presented.
image by klimkin
image by ClkerFreeVectorImages

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. 

  1. Include stories—from your personal life and those you’ve collected.
image by ClkerFreeVectorImages
image by ClkerFreeVectorImages

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.

  1. Write out your talk, record it, rewrite it, and practice, practice, practice. 
image by mvscreativos
image by mvscreativos

 

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.

  1. Tell a Self-deprecating humorous story.
image by ClkerFreeVectorImages
image by ClkerFreeVectorImages

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?

The Best Way to Prepare to Speak at Live Author Events

“Creating a personal catalog of stories associated with various emotions is a useful resource.” — Nancy Duarte

 

Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’re an introvert like I am, you may dread people asking you questions at live author events. You may wonder what you could possibly say at these functions that would interest readers. You may not be gifted in pulling together concise, yet witty, answers in the presence of—gasp!—people.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here’s what I learned was THE best activity that helped me in live events for Calculated Risk.

In prep for live author events, obtain as many guest interviews on others’ blogs as you can. Click to tweet.

Why?

1.  You’ll receive a full gamete of possible questions. So, you’ll encounter few surprises at live events.

Some blog interviewers request you choose a certain number of questions to answer from a myriad of questions. They’ll list the possible questions under such categories as: your book; your writing journey; your writing preferences; you as a writer; and you as a person.

2.  You can formulate your answers in the quiet of your writing space. You can write and rewrite them until they’re concise and witty.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3.  You’ll write the answers over and over for all your guest blog interviews. Some blogs want short answers. Some want long chatty answers. Every time you prepare your answers for a guest post, you’re learning the best way to answer questions. The answers are becoming ingrained in your brain. You feel more and more comfortable with the questions.

For example, after ten or so blog interviews you’ll now know the silliest, the most exotic, and the gutsiest thing you’ve ever done. Questions about these are commonly asked. If you’d never thought to identify these oddest moments in your life, you’d probably get flustered or silent at a live event when asked such questions. But now, after scanning your life for these moments off stage, you’re ready for that kind of question.

4.  You can keep all your guest blog interviews’ questions and answers handy in one place so you can review your answers in preparing for the live event.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to get invited for blog guest interviews.

  1. Join email and other social media author loops. I belong to my agent’s yahoo group, my publisher’s author group, and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) main and regional groups. Request for guest bloggers come up on these loops all the time when bloggers are filling their interview schedules.
  1. Visit blogs that do interviews and contact the owners with a request to be interviewed.
  1. Apply to writing organizations and magazines for spotlights they offer in their publications. I applied for a spotlight on ACFW and received a spot January 12.                                        

Obtaining author interviews on blogs is easy when you belong to writer groups. Click to tweet.

What are the most unusual questions you’ve seen asked in interviews? Share them with us so we can add them to our cache of get-ready questions.