Friday, July 12, 2013

Writers Can Be Speakers, Too

You'll never guess what I'm thinking about

In the picture posted here, I'm in Cornwall, sitting on a welcome bench after a hefty walk to get to the viewing spot for one of the most beautfiul sea views in England. The place is called The Lizard because of the shape of the cliffs that border the sea. The others in my travel group were off in another area so I had some time to myself. While enjoying the view, I started thinking about a program I was scheduled to give the week after we arrived home. On vacation, you're suppose to put all those other things aside and enjoy it fully. Not always!

I did savor the vacation/travel time with my husband and our two good friends, but things do tend to flit across our minds even in those periods of suppose-to-be-relaxing. I gave my program last evening to a ladies guild at a local church. Their theme was Christmas in July and a friend of mine who was in charge of the Salad Supper and Program asked me if I'd do my The Bells of Christmas program. She'd heard the original at my own church's Christmas Brunch several years ago. It was the one program I've done that I didn't save in a folder. After a fruitless search, I laid awake for a couple hours one night bringing back what I'd used and then began adding to it for a current presentation. 

The last Sunday we were in England, I stepped outside the hotel to see what the weather was like. I was greeted by glorious sunshine and the pleasing sound of church bells. It was a fine reminder that in only a dozendays, I'd be giving my program. I had this past week to put the final touches on it and practice. The group seemed to enjoy what I gave them and I have to admit that it was a pleasure for me to give the program.

All this is leading up to a point. Truly! Writers are the perfect people to give various programs to groups in their local areas. Okay--I can hear you now saying But I'm not a speaker, I can't stand up in front of people and talk. I've got news for you. You most certainly can do it. You've talked in everything you've written. All you need to do is add your living voice. Who better to read your work aloud than you? Use your stories and poems as a base for the program. Add some in-betweens and you can do it. When you stand before a group, tell yourself you're talking to a group of your friends around the table at a morning coffee. Be yourself. Use easy conversation, not formal, high vocabulary, above everyone's head kind of speaking. It relaxes the audience and you, too. 

I will admit that the first time or two, it's a little hard on the nerves, but once you get going, you'll be fine. There's a very good reason for you to go out into the community and speak. If you have been published, you want to get your name and your book/stories before the public. Publishers expect their writers to help with the marketing today. A lot! This is a perfect way to do it. 

So, what kind of programs can you give? There's no set type. The one I gave last night was easy because the theme had been selected and my friend asked me to do a program I'd already done once before. But you can come up with your own ideas, too, and promote yourself at the local Chamber of Commerce. Most of them have a Speaker's Bureau because all kinds of organizations are looking for programs. My state authors club has a speaker's bureau. Maybe yours does, too. One program that I've given several times is Writing Your Family Stories. It's a subject that I'm passionate about. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that. I use some of my own family stories that have appeared in anthologies as examples. If you're an expert in something, use it as a theme to promote your writing. If you have an interest in history or how current events affect a community and your writing correlates, use that. If you talk about what you know, you can't miss.

Make a list of topics you might use to base a program on. Next to the topic, list the stories, poems or articles you've written that could be used. Add to your list whenever you think of another one. Then, either wait to be approached and invited to give a program or be a little more aggressive and make an offer to give a program. If you do one or two, word gets around and you'll be asked by others. 

Why? You are giving something to others. You are promoting your writing self. You are feeding your self-esteem. Don't raise your eyebrows at that last one. We all need a little of that now and then. 

So, do consider doing some public speaking linked with your writing. You'll reap untold benefits. And so will your audiences.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent advice. So does this mean your trip to England was a business trip?