There is a skill set that, when mastered, will not only help you reap significantly better results in book sales over the long haul, but will vastly increase your self concept and confidence and is something that fewer than .05% of the population can do.
Not only can they not do it, but the majority of them would rather die than try.
It’s easy to see that you would have a serious leg up on everybody if you could join that .05% group.
I am talking of course about public speaking.
As a writer, it is possible that the percentages of comfortable, accomplished speakers in your group are even smaller than .05%. Writers tend to be shy types, happy to hole up in remote cabins and drafty guestrooms, turning down social invitations in favor of a laptop and a bottomless cup of coffee. Which makes the benefits that much greater if you can learn to conquer your issues with speaking publicly.
Six Ways that being a speaker can help your writing career:
1. You will sell more books at the back of the room after your talk. I have watched people read directly from notecards and then charge ridiculous amounts for self-published books I wouldn’t look at in a garage sale—and they sell out within minutes of leaving the podium.
2. The more you speak, the better you get, and the better your speaking resume gets and the more writers conferences you’ll be invited to speak at. Attending a writers conference as a speaker (read: expert) is much better than attending as a participant. You get instant credibility, even before your work is examined. Plus, you get to sit at the editors and agents’ table!
3. Speakers are looked upon as subject matter experts, even if they aren’t.
4. Speaking enhances your author’s brand and extends the efforts you make through social media because your audience is very likely tweeting or blogging about the conference.
5. Speaking helps to promote your reach online. If you have more than one book, you’ll have people looking online for the stuff you’ve written. Plus, people who have heard you speak are more inclined to like you because there’s a feeling of ownership or discovery for them.
6. When you speak, everything you touch is worth more. There is a kind of celebrity involved with speaking. When you speak, no one else is talking; it’s not a give and take. It’s YOU talking, and the audience listening. That dynamic illustrates a premise that you are someone important who can be learned from. Plus, you are performing and so the value of anything attached to you is increased. If you give out business cards or bookmarks with your information on it—blog site, amazon book page, website—people will snap them up like they are valuable because you have been set apart as a VIP.
So, how do you achieve this desirable state of speaking without throwing up? I don’t absolutely promise there will be no vomit involved, but you could read articles online or buy any number of how-to’s. Personally, I think learning by doing is the best way. Because there’s such a psychological element to public speaking (“My God, they’re all looking at ME!!”) you really need to feel the experience over and over again. You very well may feel like you’re going to throw up the first few times you speak in front of group, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
I found Toastmaster’s to be a great way to learn this skill in a friendly, supportive way. Everyone at the meetings is working to be a better speaker so you’re in good company. After a few months of having a helpful, friendly group of people listening to and critiquing your speeches, trust me, heading out to a public forum where people are simply listening to you for content not “ums” and “ers” will have you confident in no time.
It’s worth a try anyway, right?
What about you? Are you afraid to get up in front of a group or do you do it all the time? If so, got any tried and true tips for new speakers to help chase (or redirect) the butterflies? Would love to hear from you!