Blogger: Kathleen Y’Barbo
Location: The Woodlands, Texas PR Office
Weather: Sunny, high in the low 60s
Anyone who has been a writer for long has been confronted with this question: Do you do speaking engagements? For some, this question is met with an enthusiastic yes. Others, however, are not so thrilled with the chance to stand up and be heard. It is for this reluctant group–of which I was once a member–= that I write today’s post. Ladies and gentlemen, I submit the secret to a successful speaking career is to begin, be good, and be brave.
1. Begin among friends. Start locally by offering to speak to your writers group, your Bible study group, or perhaps a friend’s book club. Small gatherings are a great place to test out your skills, especially when you’re among friends. From there, you can branch out to offer workshops at bookstores, conferences, and other larger gatherings. As with any endeavor, practice makes perfect so start with those who will forgive the occasional flub of a word or mental lapse.
2. Be good. Notice I do not say be perfect. Know your material. Craft your talks around topics that are of interest to you. Writers almost always make fabulous speakers on the subject of writing.
Nonfiction books always generate at least one excellent speaking topic, but what about fiction? Novels, too, have subject matter that can be used for talks, be it in the actual topics covered or in the take-away the author has included. Case in point: author Janice Thompson’s book Hurricane, which is set during the Galveston hurricane of 1900. Janice turned her novel’s topic into speaking engagements to not only writers but also to historical societies, museum groups, and more.
3. Be brave. I considered putting this first. However, many of us would then offer up the excuse that until the fear of public speaking–often listed as the #1 fear among adults–left. Do not wait for the butterflies in your gut to flee. Trust me on this. As my friend Drenda Thomas, author of Saints and Scoundrels of the Bible, says, “Do it scared.” For some, the fear goes away after a few events. For others, the knocking knees only stop when the speech is over. However, all who have taken the microphone in hand despite the trembling will attest that conquering this universal phobia is supremely satisfying.
Now it’s your turn. What are your thoughts on public speaking? Is the terror you feel at standing behind the podium worth the sales it will generate? I’d love to hear your thoughts, opinions, and experiences.