As writers, some of us speak publicly at conferences, clubs, expos, and what have you. It’s essential that when you decide to incorporate public speaking into your arena of work that you are calm and collected when promoting your endeavors and helping others understand theirs.
These five steps are the ones that have helped me prepare when I am asked to do any type of public speaking and I hope that when it’s your turn to speak that they will help you prepare as well.
Five Tips for Preparing Writers When Speaking Publicly:
1. Know Your Material: This is step number one because it is so crucial. Just because you’re being asked to speak to fellow writers about your newly published book, doesn’t mean that you can go up in front of the crowd and wing it. Yes, you wrote the book and you know your material well, but there’s always room for advancement. Do more research, bring an article and visual aid along to share with your audience that relates to your niche, or ask a fellow colleague to speak with you to help further the importance of your findings. Don’t stop learning because you’re published, you’ll short change yourself as well as your audience.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice: Once your speech has been prepared and edited for clarity and time restraints, your next step will be to practice it aloud. Make sure you’re speaking slowly, clearly, and pronouncing all of your words correctly. If you’re from Boston but speaking in Texas, this is one of those times when your accent may hinder your depiction. To prevent any lapse in understanding from your audience, this is where your practice shall make perfect. By continuously speaking your speech aloud, you’ll unconsciously train not only your brain to semi-memorize your words, but also your tongue and mouth to form them correctly. Also, practice in front of people outside your comfort zone. Your husband and mother have a favorable bias of you so it’s best to ask someone other than your immediate friends and family to listen to your speech.
3. Know Your Audience: Do your research on who will be attending and great as many audience members as you can before the talk. Is it just freelance writers who will be attending or will the local news reporters be there as well, perhaps the mayor will be sitting in? These are all key questions to seek answers to well in advance of your speaking commitment so that you won’t be totally blindsided when being asked questions before, during, and after your presentation.
4. Know the Room: Arrive early, super early, to your venue and walk it. Breathe it in. Touch the seat backs and allow the scent to become embedded in your conscience. No one can work a room or their audience unless you’ve been in their position before. During this time, check your equipment as well. Do sound checks and go through your presentation if you have enough time before guests start arriving.
5. Relax and Remain Calm: Easier said than done, I know. But like anything, the more you speak publicly the easier it gets. Your mistakes you make along the way are easier corrected with repetitiveness. If you knocked over the mic stand at your first public speaking presentation, then you’ll know to place it well out of your way at your subsequent presentations. Some people are born being utterly calm and collected in front of an audience and others have to work at it. Regardless, knowing your material, your room, and your audience members is a recipe for success that anyone who speaks publicly can’t deny.
Please share your public speaking experiences with us. We learn best when it’s from each other.