Sunday, September 23, 2012

So you have been invited to speak

So you have been invited to speak. You are a writer, you may not be a speaker. These 10 pointers for public speaking may help.
  1. Introductions should be brief. Thirty seconds is a long time. Most commercials are 30 seconds. Try it. If you are introduced, skip the introduction completely. Don’t bore your audience.
  2. Use the lectern or podium. If there is a podium, lectern or table—use it to hold your materials. Put the papers down. They are a distraction from your talk. You do not want your audience to notice how you crumple, fold or mutilate the papers in your hands.
  3. Use the microphone. If there's a microphone, use it. Check it out before the event. People in the back of the room will appreciate it.
  4. Encourage audience interaction. When reading material, allow time in your delivery for applause if they choose to do so. Offer a Q &A period. I’ve found the people like the Question and Answer portion of every event more than the rest of the event.
  5. Be organized. When giving a presentation have your notes ready to go before the presentation. If you're reading poems or excerpts from your book, have your selections planned out before you hit the stage. Photocopy your selections onto 8½x11 pages. There is nothing worse than watching a presenter find her place in a book: “Oh, not that one. Oh, here it is.”
  6. Slow down. Remember to breathe and pause to look at your audience. Remember that what you feel is slow is still a comfortable listening pace for your audience.
  7. Make personal connections. With small groups of fewer than 30, I like to have participants introduce themselves with a little bit of information about their connection to the subject of my talk.
  8. Leave them wanting more. Keep to the time allotted. Ask an audience member to be a timer and give you five-, three- and one-minute warnings with predetermined signals.’
  9. Don’t forget a conclusion or a call to action. Ask them to buy your book, thank the hosts and support the sponsoring organization. Remind them to do something that you explained in your talk. An alternative it to give the audience a quick three-point summary of your talk.
  10. Give them something free to take away. Anything you hand out—flyer, bookmark, business card—should include your name and contact information with website and blog address. Don’t forget to tell them about your presence on Facebook, Twitter or other social media.

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