Public Speaking and Platform-Building Tips for Writers

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Public Speaking and Platform-Building Tips for Writers

Public speaking will help get an author's message and expertise into the public eye, but many authors must first conquer their fear of public speaking.

Forget the image of the freelance writer stuck in a garret churning out pages of timeless prose. Whether they are essay writers, business writers, or technical writers, today's freelance writers have to be able to promote themselves, and that often means public speaking. Unfortunately, fear of public speaking is widespread. Many writers are far more comfortable sitting behind their computers than standing in front of an audience

How Successful Public Speaking Helps Authors Build Platforms

In today's competitive freelance writing environment, being able to speak as a subject expert and as an author are key elements in establishing the all-important author's platform. Having a platform means that the author is on media call lists when a reporter needs a quote for an article. Even better, it means being asked to appear on major national television shows. It does not mean "knowing what you are talking about." It means "being recognized by others as knowing what you are talking about."

To develop their name recognition and reputation, authors must be willing to speak in press interviews, on television, on the radio, in podcasts, or in person. Essay writers might be asked to speak at a women's club lunch, business writers might give a keynote address at a chamber of commerce meeting, or technical writers might find themselves in demand at a corporate seminar.

For the author who is just starting to build a platform, speaking opportunities are likely to take the form of live presentations to small local audiences. Over time, these may build to bigger audiences and paid speaking gigs.

Finding Public Speaking Opportunities for Authors

Finding Public Speaking Opportunities for Authors

It's not so easy to get booked on Good Morning America or The Oprah Winfrey Show until you’re established, but your local library, chamber of commerce, Rotary Club, seniors center, and a long list of other venues are constantly sponsoring lectures. Check your local newspaper's calendar of events, and check the websites of local organizations. You may be amazed at how many opportunities there are. Other examples include:

  • Schools

  • Public libraries

  • Corporations and business seminars

  • Small private clubs

  • Large institutions

  • Government agency programs

When choosing a venue, consider that speaking opportunities vary tremendously according to your experience and subject matter. You may find it fruitful to focus on finding engagements that address a particular market segment. For instance, if you had written a book on banking, you could put together an interesting presentation on how banks work, for a sixth-grade audience. But bear in mind that that may have no impact on your goal of being perceived as an expert in the business community, so conventions and trade shows may be a better choice in that case.

Overcoming Stage Fright and Fear of Public Speaking

Overcoming Stage Fright and Fear of Public Speaking

It's natural for an inexperienced public speaker to feel stage fright. Overcoming stage fright is in large part a matter of gaining experience. Presentation skills and comfort levels will increase with time and practice. The following tips will help the novice speaker prepare a successful presentation:

Know the Audience 

Audience research can be as simple as asking the host how many people are expected to attend and who they are likely to be (children? experts? the general public?) Knowing audience size is important as it determines how to handle questions, (it's often helpful with large audiences to hold questions until the end).

Outline

Prepare an outline that lists all topics in related groups. Make sure the main headlines are written in big, easy-to-read letters, perhaps even highlighted so they can easily be seen at a glance.

Guidance notes

Prepare notes as an outline for guidance and reminders during your speech. Some people write out their speeches in full, but very few inexperienced speakers can read a speech and make it sound natural. Speakers who intend to use a fully-written out text should practice it out loud in front of a mirror (or a tolerant friend or spouse) so they can hear how it plays out, and make changes. Better still, stick to notes and ... 

Practice 

Off the cuff and improvised speeches, or speeches made from a basic outline or guidance notes should be practiced. Make a note of new ideas that occur to you while practicing, and if they are good ones, work them into the outline.

Stories

Prepare any stories, anecdotes, or jokes you wish to use, and practice telling them.

Questions

Plan how you will answer questions. Many speakers ask audiences to hold questions until the end to avoid getting sidetracked. But if you feel confident, questions during your talk will get the audience involved and break the monotony of just listening to one person speak.

Props

Bring props. For example, an author doing a presentation on her hiking book might bring a box of her backpacking gear. A musician promoting his guitar tutorial should bring a guitar.

Slides

As with props, slides help focus the audience's attention and help keep the speaker on track. If using borrowed equipment such as computers and projectors, make sure the formats are compatible with your materials.

Be Early

Get to the site early. Give yourself time to set up your materials and test any equipment, including projectors, music, and microphones without the stress of time constraints.

Once you get a little experience under your belt, you can videotape yourself to see how you did. With time, public speaking can be an enjoyable part of the author's job. It gives you a chance to meet your audience, learn about their interests and concerns, and maybe even come up with another book idea.

About the author:

Nicholas H. Parker is an essay writer at BuyEssayClub. He used to manage the content team at the company he worked for. Currently, Nicholas writes articles to share his knowledge with others and obtain new skills. Besides, he is highly interested in the web design sphere.

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