Author Appearance: Public Speaking

And we’re back with the sadly overdue follow up to my last post! As an apology, I give you Lucy’s tummy.

I hate public speaking. I have mild aphasia, and when someone asks me a question I’m not prepared for, I fall apart. There are a million tips out there for getting rid of stage fright, but here are some of the things I’ve learned since I started this whole writing thing:

Know Your Subject Matter

After a particularly disastrous speech, I created a Google Doc that includes talking points and excerpts that I can access from my tablet or phone. I have it broken down into segments: world building, character development, and business. I practice my speeches, and I relearned some of the vocalization and enunciation exercises I had to do in college. I also record myself before each event now. That really helped me get rid of a lot of extraneous content. And trust me– there was a lot of extraneous content.

Learn for Next Time

I incorporate questions into my master talk and Q&A list and use them to tweak my presentations. I don’t just do this when I do public appearances– anytime someone starts to ask me questions about writing, I pull up my trusty Google Doc and add their question to my list if it’s something new or enlightening that might help others down the line. Plus, while I’m really bad at being able to come up with cohesive and informative answers off the top of my head, this tactic ensures that I’ll be able to get it right the next time.

Try to be Prepared

The number one way I will be derailed is by questions I do not expect. Wrack your brain and come up with every possible question your audience might ask you, and feel free to enlist your friends here too. Think about who your audience is– what are their collective interests? What common theme ties them together? Then think about how they might tie their interests into your writing. Also I want to note that I’m absolutely not saying that you should only think about questions in this vein. Your audience will have many more that interest them on a personal note too.

Set Boundaries

From the beginning say that you’re only willing to answer questions on specific topics. For instance, if your subject is world building, then make it clear that you’re only willing to discuss questions relating specifically to world building and that you’ll be happy to answer any other questions either after the event or by email. This will also keep the Q&A session from going over. If you’re not comfortable putting your foot down, you can ask the event coordinator to run interference. And you don’t have to be ugly about it. Realistically a Q&A session should be around 15 minutes, 30 at the most if the audience is really engaged. Any longer and you’ll start to lose your listeners. Off topic questions make it hard for everyone else to have a turn.

If you have any tips or tricks that help you with public speaking or author appearances, add them to the comments! Happy writing, and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram at elirainwater_author for updates on my markets, cats, and all that good stuff.