PUBLIC SPEAKING – WHO ME?

What did you sayYou hear these words and your voice starts shaking, your knees wobble, and your body feels wet from the sweat rolling around. You are a writer and now you are an author, so suck it up.

As an author, you need to present yourself to the public. Why? To sell your book, get asked to give presentations, be a guest on a program, and be recognized as a great speaker. But, you cannot do this without practice. Fear? Yes, fear is at the heart of all speakers, at the beginning, and probably every time they stand in front of an audience.

Remember, there is no greater speaker than that of an author. Who wrote the book? You. Who knows what the book is all about? You. Who knows about the funny places? You. Who can present the scenes of love, friendship, suspense and frustrations? You.

Now is the time for practice. Volunteer at your writer meetings to give an introduction for another author. No, not you. Volunteer to do presentations at a special meeting. Get yourself up out of your chair and behind the podium or even just  in front of a group with a microphone in your hand.

But, wait. You need to know how you sound with a microphone. Is your voice too loud? Are you speaking too fast, and no one can understand you? Does your voice stay in the same tone, like a monotone and no emotion comes out? Do you slur your words?

So, what do you do? If you have a tape recorder, use it. You can listen to yourself and might not even recognize your voice. Keep trying, and trying, and trying. Are you punching some of your words? Trying to emphasize words to get attention. Vary the pitch of your voice and you will have your audience captivated. Do not forget a pause between some words. This comes when you want your audience to be with you, listen, and feel what you do. You want your audience to stay with you from beginning to end.

What about your body? No, not the size, but what your audience sees as they listen. Are you dressed for the occasion? You need to find out about the type of audience you are addressing: a sports audience and you come in evening clothes? I doubt it. Or the reverse: an evening crowd and you come in your workout clothes? Yeah, I went overboard, but this gives you a chance to think about your audience. You need to invoke emotion and interest through non-verbal communication, known as body language. Facial expressions and gestures are a neat beginning. Eye contact is another very important communication. People in the audience love to think you are looking at only them. Give them your best.

A goof-up? Hey, we all mispronounce words, forget some words, and the best recovery is to acknowledge them and laugh at yourself. Your audience will laugh with you. Be sincere and honest.

Now, that you have done some practicing at home, in front of a mirror, and practiced, practiced, and practiced, it is time to take you and your book out before a live audience. Most of all, have fun with your time before the audience. They will feel part of your presentation and you will find yourself with new fans.

SPEAK UP.  SPEAK SLOW.  SPEAK YOUR BEST. PROMOTE YOUR WRITING.

o

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