Tuesday, April 22, 2014

10 Steps to Preparing for a Speaking Event

Author Paul Betit
You've received a call from a local organization. They would love for you to come and speak at their next meeting. Congratulations! But wait! You are a writer not a speaker. If the thought of getting up and talking to a group of people gives you pause, here are ten points to make the process easier.
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 crumble, 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 space in your delivery for applause if they choose to do so. Offer a question & answer period. I’ve found the people like the Q & A 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, excerpts from your book, have your selections planned out before you hit the stage. Photocopy your selections onto 8½ x 11 pages. There is nothing worse than watching a presenter find their places 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.
Author Barbara Kent Lawrence
7. Make personal connections. With small groups less than thirty, I like to have everyone 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 or 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.
Now you should be ready to plan your first speaking event. If you're an experienced speaker, what are some of your hints and tips?

Nancy E. Randolph operates Just Write Books, publishing Maine books by Maine authors telling Maine stories. Randolph quickly developed a reputation as a publisher of quality Maine books. An active community member along with two others she founded and serves as a member of the board of Save Our Swinging Bridge.Org to ensure the maintenance of the historic Roebling designed and built bridge connecting Topsham and Brunswick. She co-chairs with Cathy Lamb the Androscoggin Brunswick-Topsham Riverwalk project—building a 2K walking/biking intown loop. To contact her directly: nerandolph@jstwrite.com.

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