I attended a writers’ conference a few years ago. I was particularly looking forward to one presentation. The speaker – who shall remain nameless – was someone I’d been following for a while on Twitter. Occasionally sarcastic, his tweets were always entertaining and full of great tips. We gathered in the ballroom and he opened his mouth.
Not many speakers have ever disappointed me as much as he did. While his online persona was larger-than-life, in person he was the opposite. He rarely made eye contact with his audience as he read from his script. He could barely be heard, as he did not make good use of the microphone. Unlike some people, I stayed for the whole presentation, hoping he would improve over time. He didn’t.
A year later, a friend offered a pre-conference session for writers on how to hone their presentation skills. I wasn’t going to go: after all, I have a master’s degree in theatre and lots of experience training and presenting. But I did. And boy was I glad. Even with all the time I’d spent in front of an audience, it turned out I still had something to learn.
As part of my writing business, I offer a variety of presentations. You can see them listed here. Most are related to the topics covered in the Friend Grief books: friend grief itself, 9/11, AIDS, military, workplace.
I recently added Public Speaking for the Pathologically Shy Author. It follows a simple format:
- How to choose the selection you’re going to read
- How to introduce yourself and your selection
- How to use a microphone
- And more…
It’s audience-participation, which means those attending are expected to bring a 3-minute selection to read. In an hour-long setting, three lucky people will be able to read in front of the group and be given tips on improving their performance.
That’s what it is: a performance. Not every writer wants to be in public, talking about themselves or their work. But no one can deny the excitement of meeting a favorite author and hearing them read from their latest book. The connection between author and reader is a powerful one, and it never ceases to impress me.
So if you know of a group – nonprofit, support group, school, writing group – looking for a speaker, I hope you’ll keep me in mind. I’m particularly looking for opportunities in cities where I’ll be traveling over the next few months: New York, Washington, DC, St. Louis, Iowa City, Philadelphia, Boston. But if you’re someplace else, don’t hesitate to ask. I guarantee an engaging, useful and entertaining time. And I know very well how to use a microphone! Just shoot me an email at Victoria@victorianoe.com.
One last unrelated note: See that form in the upper right hand corner, where you can sign up for my newsletter? If you haven’t done it yet, now’s the time. Because later this week all my subscribers will get a free pdf of my next book, Friend Grief in the Workplace: More Than an Empty Cubicle. Make sure you’re one of them!