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Public Speaking Writers: Do Not Be Afraid

  Posted by Jean Oram , 11 June 2012 · 777 views

I like to talk. Sometimes I can be shy or quiet. But if I’m feeling confident and we’re on a top I am passionate about, well look out because I turn into that slightly precocious 6-year-old who simply won’t shut up and has something to share about everything. Yeah, I’m her. Sorry.
Therefore, I am a great public speaker. Great in that I love to talk and I’m not afraid to get up in front of folks and chat for 90 minutes.
That’s not to say that I am necessarily a GOOD public speaker or that my voice does not quaver and waver when I begin.
I’m human.
And a writer. A public speaking writer. And if I may be as bold to say that public speaking writers have a leg up on those who do not.
Wait, wait, wait, you say. What? I have to go out there an talk to people?
No, you don’t have to, but it’s not a bad idea. I solemnly promise you won’t die. And you can start small–even talking to a bookclub (even if by Skype) is public speaking in my books.
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See? Look at those happy faces. Public Speaking can't be that bad!
How Public Speaking Writers Have an Advantage Over Those Who Stay Home
  • We get to meet our audience (assuming we are actually speaking to our audience, of course).
  • We get to see and hear their reactions to our ideas, thoughts, work, and beliefs.
  • We get to find out what our audiences already know.
  • We get to find out what surprises them.
  • We get to find out what they don’t like. (Don’t be afraid! Think of it as research or a fact-finding mission. It’s better to find out now than three books down the road when your sales slump to nothing.)
  • Publishers like the idea of a writer who goes out in public and spreads the world of their book(s). And in the nonfiction world it is almost a necessity in some ways. Do you think Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul) got 47 bestsellers by chance? Nope, he worked his butt off and part of that was showing up and talking to people. In public. In larger and larger groups.
  • Writers who get out in public sell more–that’s why publishers like to see nonfictioners out there before they consider offering a contract. Jack Canfield used to sell 2000 copies of his book when talking to a 1000 person audience. Would he have made those sales and expanded his audience if he’d been at home working on book 2? Nope. That’s part of the whole over-extended thing I was talking about last week. Once that ball is rolling, keep giving it shoves.
  • We get to connect with our audience in person which is much more striking and memorable than hiding behind our computer monitor.
  • We get a chance to do a face-to-face sell. I don’t care if you are not yet published and don’t have a stack of books to sell on the spot. You have something to sell. Something very important: yourself. You are a brand. You are acquainting them with your brand so later down the road they are like, “Oh, yes. I met this person. Cool!” And buy your book. You get rich and go and eat layered cakes and caviar on the beach somewhere.</br>
    If you don’t have a book, here’s what you need to do: Find a valuableway to connect with these people away from the speaking event. Don’t let them just leave. Close the deal. You might share a printed out newsletter that has your contact information on it. You might ask them to sign up for your newsletter or to get on your mailing list before they leave. (This is important: Give them a reason to do this. Make it about them and helping them. I.e. Sign up for my newsletter to find out more about what I talked about today–or whatever works for your set up.) You also might ask them to continue the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. (Make sure you provide some talk-related conversation starters on your networks that day and for the next few following days so if they do decide to connect with you, there is something to draw them in.)</br>
    By making a network now, when you have a book to sell, you already have audience members primed and ready. It’s like a head start out of the gate.
  • You get your feet wet in talking with your audience and preparing for your talks when the stakes are lower. A week and a half ago I chatted with a moms group about play as part of my It’s All Kid’s Play (.ca) nonfiction platform. I learned a lot of things in that talk. Not just about my audience, but about what I can improve upon in future talks (Big ones: Don’t try to download everything you know on the topic and ask more thought-provoking questions). When I have a book to sell, I want to rock it every time–especially when the audience is larger and I want to make the best impression possible.
So how about you? Have you done any public speaking as a writer or do you know any public speaking writers? What do you think? Any advice? Tips? Insights?


Wow, great info and sounds effective. But,the problem with me, and with many writers (I think) is that we are introverts. The idea of public speaking or promoting books is not our forte. I don't think Stephen .King was/is very personable. Virginia Woolf? ,Salinger? Hemingway? Poe? Plath? Rowling? etc... Why can't the writing stand on its own anymore? The market is too saturated maybe? I don't know. The best writing/story, usually, rises to the top and this has always been true. The author, then, is secondary and interesting only after the book has become a popular read.
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Hi Anne,

Yes, public speaking isn't for everyone, but I think there is some real value in it. But if you are going to stutter and hide when you do it, it probably isn't worth it. ;)

Books can still make it without the author engaging in public speaking.
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