Monday, November 17, 2008

And the Speaker is...

I read with interest (hmmm, so many of my college freshman start with this line and I always frown) Margaret's post about speaking. See, I went to a writers' event on Saturday and was a speaker, too.

I'm actually one of those clearly mentally ill people who like to speak. In fact, I'd rather be upfront than in the audience. But, then, I'm a college professor and love having a dry erase board behind me and people's hand in the air in front of me (since I write suspense, I should tell you that in class the hands are up because they have questions... in my books the hands are up because guns are pointed at them).

I've learned a few things over the year from people who clearly belong in front of groups.
1) Dress like a professional. I was at an RWA conference many years ago and came across a fellow Desert Roser in the lobby. She was dressed in a three-piece suit. "Going to your editor appointment?" I asked. "No," she responded, and proceeded to tell me this was a 'business' conference. Now, I'm not going to do a three piece suit for RWA workshops (Her: size five. Me: size if I tell you I'd have to kill you by sitting on you). But as I watch her career soar, I realize that she is correct. This past summer, I spoke to a group of writers. My sister came with me. She wanted to know why I was dressed up. I told her. After the workshop, she said, "Pam, you're right. There was a big difference in the way the audience looked at the people dressed professionally compared to those who came in their sweats." Keep in mind, this advice is only opinion, but it's working for me.
2) Remember your audience is there to learn technique. If you can teach technique via one of your books, do it. Don't randomly push your books if they don't relate to topic. I figured this out during someone else's workshop. People were leaving because 50% of the workshop was her lesson and 50% was her personal story. A little personal story goes a long way. A lotta personal story clears the room.
3) Limit your name-dropping.
4) Have handouts that require the audience to fill something in.
5) Involve the audience. If someone makes a point, let them finish. The best teachers are just a part of the process not the whole.
6) Give away your books.
7) Get names and addresses for your newsletter (You do have a newsletter).
8) Pass out promotional items. I took a 100 Craftie Ladies pens to this past workshop. I came home with five. I added ten names to my newsletter list. Already two people have emailed me.
9) It doesn't matter if you have 5 or 50 in the audience, appreciate them.
10) Don't stand still, move, be personable, learn a name or two.

Hmmm, I think I'll take the above 10 points and turn them into a workshop. Thanks for reading me today and please leave a comment.


Ellen said...

Your ten points would make a great workshop. I have been in many teacher's workshops that could have been so much better than they were if only they had followed your advice.

PamelaTracy said...

I make killer mistakes, too, Ellen. I think the area I want to improve upon is how to stop an audience participate who monopolizes the show. I once had a journalist show up for a workshop and she wanted a critique - of her work - during the workshop. The topic wasn't editing! It was What's New in the Inspirational Arena. Guess what? She wasn't writing an inspirational. I literally had to both talk over her and ignore her. Talk about no fun.

Ellen said...

I've run across people like that too, both in workshops I've attended and ones I've given and I have no idea how to cut them off either. Sometimes if you are lucky a member of the group will help you. I have a friend who has been know to tell people like that to "shut up". Not nice but it works.

PamelaTracy said...

Give me your friend's name and phone number.