Blogger: Cynthia Ruchti
Writers speak. Speaking in public remains a perennial item on the list of things-I-think-will-kill-me-or-worse for many people, writers included. A writer who is able to communicate clearly on paper does not instantly translate into a natural speaker.
Literary agents don’t serve as speaking agents. But we care about our clients and blog readers and their success when called upon to speak.
Know your audience.
Who are they and what do they expect? Information? Encouragement? Inspiration? Answers? Entertainment? Usually, it’s a combo. Most keynotes lean more heavily on encouragement and inspiration than a workshop or topic of expertise, which leans toward teaching or instruction.
Every speaker, like every author, has his or her own “voice.”
If speakers sound like each other, we could keep using the one speaker for every event and workshop. Don’t worry if your style and delivery is different from other speakers you appreciate. You have unique gifts and a unique story to tell.
What’s the point?
There’s usually one overarching theme, as with a novel. Keep that point in mind. If the anecdote or Scripture passage you’re using has lots of other information in it, trim until you as a speaker and your listeners can clearly define the theme, moral to the story, or action step.
The first line or paragraph needs to be memorable, just as with a novel.
If that opening is memorable or gripping, funny or heart-tugging, both the speaker and the audience will be in it for the long haul.
Incorporate stories/illustrations you can tell without looking at your notes.
The stories or anecdotes should all support your point. If they do, they should serve to connect you to your audience.
Like a novel, your talk will need a beginning, middle, and an end, plus a resolution that ties up any loose ends you created.
Make what you say a conversation starter for your audience members…something to talk about. And easy for them to remember.
If you do nothing else, make the audience feel good about themselves.
They could use the uplift. Keeping that purpose in mind will help keep you relaxed and focused as you prepare your talk. What’s in it for the reader? Or in this case, the audience?
Is it an encouragement to you that many of the skills needed to create a meaningful talk are skills you work with every day as a writer?
In yet one more way, everything we learn informs everything else we still need to learn.