As authors, we need to master the skills required to write our stories. These days we also need to market our books in order to sell them. One of the effective ways to promote book sales is to accept speaking opportunities at clubs, conferences and other venues. Public speaking requires a set of skills quite different from those we used to create our novels. Here are 10 strategies
1. Know your material. Pick a topic that you know about and that interests you. For example as an author a natural choice might be writing tips.
2. Be aware of your audience. Acknowledge your audience right away by making eye contact with as many as possible. Throughout your talk, watch for audience behavior cues. Smiles and nodding are good; fidgeting or confused looks may mean that you need to adjust what you are doing.
3. Capture your audience’s attention and interest. Open your speech with a quick story or an interesting statistic or quote.
4. Stay on your topic. At the beginning of your talk, tell your audience what you’re going to say. Say it. Close your speech by telling your audience what you said.
5. Speak slowly. If you think you’re speaking too slowly, you’re probably speaking at just the right speed. Pause after important points.
6. Use visuals. For focusing your audience, clarification and aesthetic appeal, nothing is better than visuals. You may choose slides, charts or handout sheets.
7. Interact with your audience. Pose questions and wait for responses. Accept audience input and show appreciation for their information and advice. Answer questions as they come up providing they relate to your topic. If a question is off the subject, give a very brief response and get back to your topic.
8. Use body language effectively. Stand up straight. Move around a bit if possible. Look people in the eye. Use gestures to engage the audience.
9. Use your voice to enhance your presentation. Your voice needs to model enthusiasm for your topic. Your voice should show confidence and an eagerness to share what you know.
10. Smile. Smile at the whole group. Smile at individuals. A smile says: I want to be here. I appreciate the opportunity you’ve given me to present to you. I respect that you’ve taken time out of your busy schedule to listen to me. I like you.