Wednesday, February 23, 2011

6 Tips Public Speakers can give Writers

The majority of the population dread the thought of public speaking. The mere thought of it will send us into a sweat. Pushing the jitters aside, however, there’s a lot we can learn from public speaking. Below are six public speaking tips relevant to writers:

1. Share the passion. A dead-pan speaker will lose the audience. So too, a writer needs to share the passion in the stories she writes so she can engage her readers.

2. Keep it relevant. When a speaker rambles off on a tangent, their listeners will drift away on daydreams. As writers, we also need to keep our writing focussed and relevant to the story.

3. Know your audience. There’s no point talking to a group of emus about how to soar. (Believe me, there’s nothing worse than an angry rabble of emus flapping their non-existent wings). As writers we need to know who our audience is so we can write relatable stories.

4. Be confident. We’ve all felt sorry for the nervous speaker. It’s rare they get invited back. They lose their place in their notes, they stutter and sweat and fail to get their point across with any conviction. Writers also need to be bold. The work of a confident writer shines through.

5. Learn how and practise. Not just anyone can stand up in front of a crowd and speak well. Not just anyone can write well. We need to learn the craft and practise it often to improve.

6. Presentation is important. The best speeches are about more than just the words. They're also about how the speaker presents herself. They're about timing, body language, professionalism. The same goes for writers. Correct formatting makes our manuscripts presentable. Professional behaviour makes the author presentable.

Can you think of other tips a public speaker might offer? Have you ever done any public speaking?

38 comments:

  1. relevance would be my favourite. I hate when writers put irrelevant things in their plots... especially when they involve personal opinions of the writer and unnecessary philosophical points ...

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  2. Hmm, the only thing I could add is if you have researched your topic well public speaking is definitely much easier.

    And don't irritate those emus.

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  3. Have you ever tried talking to a lounge of lizards about what great pets cats make? Let me tell you, it's not a pretty sight.

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  4. Great points! I'd add Be Prepared (know thoroughly what you will say), and Keep a Sense of Humor. Audiences like a sense of humor, or at the very least, someone who doesn't take themselves too seriously. :)

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  5. Ann, lol

    Dezzy, yep, like random emu philosophy. What a waste of time that is! ;)

    Al, IF you don't mind standing in front of all those people ;)

    Bish, hahahaha so funny

    Carol, excellent points! Be Prepared is definitely important in both writing and speaking. And yes, humour, when done well, is great too. Thanks :)

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  6. I like the number one point. It's so easy to be overwhelmed by the number of variables in a novel and drone through them. Good reminder.

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  7. I've been reading my work in front of an audience for a year now. I still get nervous.

    Look up at your audience and make eye contact. They want you to do well. They really, really do.

    So, I guess to translate to writing, dare to look at your audience. Think of their reactions as you write - you want response. Just like when you're reading aloud - you want laughter and emotion ... and applause.

    Applause is a nice change of pace from rejection. Plus, reading at open mics has gained me some fans.

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  8. See, this is when being a performer in a past life comes in handy. Throw me in front of a crowd and it's all cheese and good times. Pick up the phone and talk to one person at a time? Yikes.

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  9. I have never ever ever ever ever spoken out in public and plan to never do so ever! LOL!!! I am so envious of people able to just stand up and project!!!!

    I guess it is all down to confidence and practice! Thanks for these tips!

    Take care
    x

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  10. Hey Lynda! I posted on a similar topic a few months back- I think we covered almost all the same ground :) Such a relevant and great point.

    http://alltheworldsourpage.blogspot.com/2010/04/kissing-blarney-stone.html

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  11. Good tips.

    I would add to try comedy as practice. Even a fail can teach you something. (And it would be funny to hear about it)
    Nahno ∗ McLein

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  12. Public speakers prepare their words so that they don't hum and haw on stage. We should make sure our words are well prepared before we put them before an audience. Great post.

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  13. Public speaking? Not me! Especially if emus are involved.

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  15. Excellent post. A writer can learn many things from a course in public speaking.
    Reading aloud with a recorder is a help with flow and timing.

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  16. I love this post! Every point is so well made and so true.

    I can't speak in front of "public" lol - Unfortunately I'm the one listeners feel embarrassed for. :(

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  17. Whenever I had to do any kind of public speaking (I used to have to do presentations to peers and facilitate in corporate training) is to have the undeniable belief that it was my show. This is not to say that knowing your audience and the material isn't important, but if you don't have that ego from the get-go, your audience will eat you alive.

    The same could be said for writing and building a platform. All six of the points you present don't necessarily have to be limited to the real world, face-to-face interactions.

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  18. Thanks for the tips! Sometimes we all have to be told what we need to do!

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  19. This is a great comparison. Being confident reminds me of Steven King's On Writing, where he suggests that using passive verbs is the equivalent of showing a lack of confidence. Interesting.

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  20. I don't ever think I've heard a church sermon that knew when it should have been over! (Do they give priests/ministers some kind of time minimum?)

    Lesson for writers: Recognize your climax and keep you falling action short. Leave them wanting more, not rolling around in the pew looking at their watches.

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  21. I had to give a presentation to my writers group this last weekend! I was sooo nervous. I think I forgot what I was talking about about 10 times :)

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  22. Actually if I am well prepared I quite like public speaking.
    It's when I am worried I'll get a question I can't answer (not enough research)it seems an ordeal.

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  23. eeks! public speaking! blech!!!
    great points though! confidence is hard to find, but i think practice and hard work give it some legs to stand on! :)

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  24. I'd never correlated the two, but it makes a ton of sense. It's funny thinking that writers can learn from something most of them fear!

    EJW

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  25. Know your subject. If there's research that needs doing, get up and do it.

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  26. I'm not much of a public speaker, but know your audience is always the BEST advice. I read a blog post recently that talked about paying attention to popular *style* also. Not necessarily trends, but style of writing... good stuff, Lynda! :o) <3

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  27. I think your tip on sharing the passion is the most important. Make it a real show for the audience. I've never minded public speaking but hate presenting in front of family or friends.

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  28. This is an excellent comparison. Making a connection and establishing a rapport with the audience is so important. A story needs to do the same. If the reader does relate in some way it will be difficult to stay interested.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  29. Great tips!!
    I love it when speakers keep it real.

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  30. Great tips! I really like comparing non-writer-y (sorry for inventing a silly word) things to writing. You've got some gears moving in my head now. Thanks for giving me something to think about!

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  31. I have done open mic nights- I think one important thing to remember is to speak loud enough everyone can hear, or make sure you are close enough to the microphone that it will catch your voice.

    Great advice.

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  32. Some authors are just incredible speakers. I'm not one of them! But I had a friend once who was very good at it...she brought a bunch of Hershey's Kisses along and every time someone got an answer right, she threw a Kiss at them. That motivated the audience to join in on it and made it more interactive. I think if I ever have to speak, I'll have to try something like that!

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  33. Thank you so much for all your comments. I haven't been feeling well, but I'll get to each of your blogs as soon as I can :)

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  34. Great Post! Thanks for the tips.

    I would also include - if you are in the audience - Show empathy to the speaker. Even those who speak well are full of butterflies and nerves. Sometimes it only takes one audience member to change a so-so speaker into a great one. One person paying attention, being encouraging, wanting you - can add that spark.


    When you are around other writers - never forget to encourage them. Sometimes - one person who thinks you have something - can mean that it gives you the spark to live up to what they think of you. Red ink equals love - but red ink should also point to the good parts.

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  35. HowLynnTime, that's a great addition to the list. Encouragement and support go a long way.

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