Adding Speaking to Your Platform

The buzz about cultivating an “online presence” hasn’t yet diminished, and every author needs to be able to use the Internet for marketing. An often-overlooked side of the platform you know you need is to build your speaking skills. I know–the shy writer is writhing like a snail in salt. But it’s not that hard.
Writing Tip for Today: The three legs of an author’s platform are Internet, book events and/or interviews (traditional media) and speaking. You hate to speak in public. But developing speaking skills will advance you platform. Here are some ways to overcome this form of resistance:

  • Start where you are. If you quake in your boots just raising your hand in a crowded auditorium, set that as a goal. Chances are, the speaker won’t call on you. But if the speaker does: Stand up, project your voice as if you were calling the kids in for lunch, and keep it short.
  • Practice. Add to a discussion at your Bible Study group, Zonta Club meeting or other type of gathering. Practice in front of a mirror at home or use a tape recorder to hear your strong points and your weaknesses. Or, join a local Toastmasters group.
  • Resist the Urge to Explain. Yep, in speaking, a long winding story with no point isn’t going to keep the audience’s interest any more than it does on the page.
  • Speak for Free. At first, volunteer to speak for free at your church, civic organization or other gathering. If you have a book to sell, you’ll probably come out ahead. Most audiences feel obligated to purchase a speaker’s book. Try to think of a creative angle for a topic. If your novel is set in Hawaii, prepare a talk about Hawaiian lifestyles or little-known history.
  • Start Small, Think Big. Finally, work in concentric rings, beginning with your neighborhood and then branching out to include opportunities 50-100 miles from you in all directions. If you have the means, you can branch out further. Where possible, always contact in person to offer your speaking skills.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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