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.