Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Public Speaking? Me? by Sandra Ardoin

I’d known since my first book released that I needed to prepare something for an occasion of public speaking. At the least, I needed to prepare some possible topics. Well, since no one beat down my door with invitations, I kept putting it off.

Until…

I got the call in mid-July. It came from a woman who had asked me years ago to speak to her small church group of about eight other ladies, which I did. That was before I began writing novels. It was my first time to formally speaking to a gathering of strangers about my writing experiences for denominational publications. I shook like dog on its way to the vet, but I guess it went well enough. However, it was my last time to stand in front of others and talk.

Until…

She was looking for an August speaker for a different group. Of course, I said yes to a wonderful opportunity for this shy introvert to hone those skills that authors need.

Then…

She told me I’d be expected to speak about my writing career for forty-five minutes. Forty-five minutes? How was I to fill forty-five minutes? Honestly, it’s not as hard as one might think. And if I can stand behind a microphone and rattle on in a somewhat coherent manner, believe me, anyone can, but it takes organization and time.

Here’s how I did it:

  • I brainstormed three different themes and included quotes from others that served as examples of those themes. Once my opening was set (a few minutes for an invitation thank you and a little personal information about myself), I could use it for any topic. I included a bit of humor in that opening, hoping that when my audience laughed, it would help relax me. It worked. 
  • After choosing my approach, I wrote my talk out word-for-word, typing it in a 16-point font that could be easily read. Then I practiced—alone and out loud—timing it as I went. I tweaked it and practiced again. You know that forty-five minutes? In the end, I had to whittle it down! I sent it to my tablet and practiced until I could speak without stumbling or constantly looking at my script.
  • I intended to use that tablet while speaking, but needed a backup—just in case. My talk turned out to be twenty-four pages long, and I didn’t want to fumble with that much paper. Once I was certain I knew what I would say, I typed up a 4-page outline of my points (again, in 16-point font) and printed it. 
  • One of the surprises I received that day was being interrupted for questions. That was okay. It allowed me to ad lib a little and put me more at ease—like a conversation. So, depending on where you speak, be prepared for such surprises. 
  • As I spoke, I could pick out those who were interested in what I had to say and a couple who were just “there.” Even so, I was careful to spread my eye contact across the room. 
All in all, it went well, and I drove home without crying. Of course, it helps to have an audience willing to put the speaker at ease.

AND …

I have a speech all ready to go for the next time someone asks me to talk about my writing!


What tips do you have for surviving a public speaking event?


~~~~~~



Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. She’s the author of the heartwarming novella, The Yuletide Angel, and the award-winning novel, A Reluctant Melody. Rarely out of reach of a book, she's also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out. 

Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com. Subscribe to receive updates and specials. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and BookBub.

10 comments:

  1. Yay, Sandy! Great ideas! The bigger font is a great help when scanning notes. BTW, I adore the new cover!

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    1. Thanks so much, Gail! And I learned about the font trick when I worked for a mayor who needed to have his speeches typed.

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  2. Awesome tips, Sandy! I'm sure you did great. Love your new cover! šŸ’œ

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    1. Thanks, Dora! You have more experience than I do, so I'm sure you could add to the tip list. Glad you like the cover! :)

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    1. Thanks, Heidi. Like Dora, I'm sure you could give me some tips. :)

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  4. You and I are so much alike! Public speaking makes me cringe, but I can do it if I'm prepared. I have to have everything organized and typed up in large print and put into a small binder. I've also found that when possible, PowerPoint is really helpful because like me - some people are visual. I also like to add in a little humor. A chuckle here and there helps relieve some tension.

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    1. Awww...speaking sisters! Those ladies made me feel comfortable, so I actually enjoyed it...well, I didn't hate it. :) Yes, those chuckles are relaxing. I'm a visual person, so that's a great idea about the PowerPoint. Besides, it gets them focused on something other than the speaker. :) Thanks, Dawn!

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  5. Awesome tips. I have only had one public speaking invitation and I was scared down to my toes but I survived. I am open for more and need all the help I can get so thanks for sharing!

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  6. Thanks, Barbara! Glad you found it helpful. We are survivors!:)

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