Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Public Speaking for Writers

Authors write. Nowadays, authors also have to speak.

In order to promote our books, we have to talk at book signings, to readers' groups, to large organizations, on radio or TV, and at every opportunity we can arrange, large or small. This can be a real stopping point for those writers who have a fear of speaking in public. Although it's never bothered me, I can understand the fear.

There's a store here in Austin called Central Market - a great place for fresh fruits and vegetables, every cheese imaginable, unusual foods and wines. It's also a maze of a store with narrow aisles and people taste-testing, bulk-buying, and attempting to turn their carts around and fight against the flow of rat-shoppers trying to work the maze to the check out. Did I mention that it's a claustrophobic maze of a grocery store?

Yes, I understand that tight-chested, panic-driven, push against the invisible plastic suffocating you, just-get-me-through-this feeling of someone facing an audience. But it doesn't have to be that way.

I have a B.A. with a double major in English and Speech Communication, with a specialization in Oral Interpretation (which, incidentally, is great asset when it comes to writing dialogue). My graduate work is in Speech, and I've taught college-level Public Speaking (one of my most memorable students was a police officer who gave a How-To speech on Performing an Autopsy).

With all those credentials, the best advice I could give you is “Do it.” The more you speak in public, the easier it becomes. But ... in order for this to be true, you need to have positive speaking experiences.

Tomorrow, five steps to help you have those positive speaking experiences.

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