You live to write. Nothing tops quality time with your keyboard or pen and paper.
Stepping out into the world (even in the pre-coronavirus world)? Who needs it? Even worse, venturing forth to speak in in public? Horrors.
This attitude is sure to tamp down your success. Authors are in the game for a variety of reasons:
- Sell books
- Massage a healthy ego
- Raise your reputation
- Use it as a lever to offer consulting services
- Show up that elementary school teacher who swore you’d never amount to anything
- Write and be left alone
If all you want is the latter, okay, you hermits, I agree that you don’t need to sharpen your presentation skills. In every other case, a stellar speaking ability can pave the way to riches, no matter how you define them.
The Three Keys to Great Presentations
Picture this opportunity: You are about to address a conference room (or a Zoom room) full of book lovers. The host presents you with a glowing introduction. You begin, brimming with confidence. You flash that million dollar smile, and take a sip of water to prepare yourself. What’s that you say? The picture looks out of focus? Perhaps you are one of the many authors who shine in one-on-one situations but crawl into the shadows when asked to address a crowd.
It doesn’t have to be that way — when you make use of the Three Keys to Great Presentations: Preparation, Performance, and Assessing Feedback.
Preparation for Better Things
Your first key is Preparation. Just as you research prior to writing, so too must you research your audience. Determine where your interests intersect. Then decide upon your main messages and weave them throughout your remarks. Reinforce those vital messages at every turn, including the question and answer session.
As you draft your remarks, don’t forget to add some zip. Use tools like colorful language, quotes, anecdotes, and personal stories. Aim for verbal pictures that will capture your listeners’ attention.
Preparation also means that you absolutely, positively must practice, practice, practice! Read your remarks aloud to any audience you can find — co-workers, family, even loyal old Spot if no one else will listen. Record yourself on video or audio. This allows you to see and hear the person that your audience will experience.
Put on a Show
Your second key is Performance. Open your presentation with purpose and assurance. Need a confidence boost? Keep in mind that you are the expert. Who else knows more about your subject matter or your plot or characters? Nobody. After all, you wrote the book about it.
Another essential part of Presentation centers around how you act. It matters because everyone came to see you. So fill up the room (or the screen) with your presence. How do you accomplish this? Use your Video Tools and Audio Tools to maximum effectiveness.
To get you moving in the right direction, here’s a quick bonus primer on your Video Tools: Be animated — move around a little and look alive. Maintain solid eye contact — connect with your audience members. Make use of facial expressions — a smile goes a long way. Employ props when appropriate — perhaps a copy of your book.
Want insights into your Audio Tools, too? Here you go: Use colorful language — utilize vivid words and phrases. Vary the volume of your voice. Show some emotion — if you don’t care about your subject, why should anyone else? Alter your rate of speech — a change of pace works wonders to catch listeners’ ears.
Take a Look Back
The third Key to Great Presentations involves Assessing Feedback. Too many speakers neglect this important step. You cannot afford to be one of them if you want to heighten your author platform. Winners assess and learn from feedback in any number of ways.
There are formal methods, such as evaluation forms. And there are informal techniques, like calling your host to ask how you did or casually surveying audience members. Of course, the truest measure you have hit one out of the park occurs when you are asked to return and speak again.
So, you see, there is no reason to fear having the spotlight shine on you when you speak in public. You can succeed if you take advantage of the Three Keys to Great Presentations: Preparation, Presentation, and Assessing Feedback.
Come out from the shadows of public speaking-induced fear. Transform those trepidations into a new dawn of countless opportunities. Roomfuls of book lovers beckon.
Ed Barks serves as an advisor to communications and government relations executives. They gain an enhanced reputation, opportunities for career advancement, and achievement of long-term business and public policy goals. He is the author of A+ Strategies for C-Suite Communications, The Truth About Public Speaking, and the forthcoming Reporters Don’t Hate You: 100+ Amazing Media Relations Strategies. As President of Barks Communications, he has taught more than 5000 business leaders, association executives, and other experts how to succeed when they deal with the media, deliver presentations, and advocate before policymakers. He also operates the C-suite Blueprint blog.
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