Becoming a Sought-After Public Speaker

As promised, the following is a sequel to last month’s blog post, “Planning a Unique and Popular Book Event.”

You are an expert on (at least) one topic: your book. All that research you did for the project can come in handy for a speech topic. A great way to increase sales of your book and get word-of-mouth buzz going is visibility. Finding ways to increase your presence in your hometown is vital to the popularity and shelf life of your tome.

Effective speech making is a superior strategy in the battle for market visibility. After you determine a few topics you can speak on, make a list of potential venues. These could be: club meetings, school events (think Career Day), senior centers and homes, church or civic groups, writers groups, book clubs, sports banquets, Chamber of Commerce dinners (they’re always looking for speakers), and morning TV or radio newscasts.

Be prepared. Give the speech in front of family at the dinner table. Then invite friends over for coffee. Use your lunch break to speak to your co-workers. Try your speech out on your bowling team or poker buddies. Soon you’ll be able to do that speech in your sleep.

Be a techno-geek. Use multimedia tools. Craft a basic PowerPoint presentation with slides, word and music. Know how to use it, backward and forward. Make a general template once, and then customize it for different events. Most public places have a large TV screen or projector available. If you’re particular, you may want to invest in your own audio/visual equipment.

Be an expert. Know everything there is about your speech subject. You don’t have to be a PhD., just be knowledgeable and passionate. People will respond.

 Be memorable. The best way for folks to remember you is to be authentic. Know your speech well enough that you never look down to your notes. Be flexible and if someone asks a question in the middle, go with it. Appear relaxed, but command attention.

Call your contact person the day before to confirm. Put on the “uniform” you picked out for speech-making. This will make you feel more confident. Make sure you have a box of books in your car at all times, and when you speak, take a few inside. If you have no background in public speaking, join a local speaker’s bureau or Toastmaster’s club or take a few speech classes at a community college.

Before you leave, make sure the group leadership knows you have more speech topics in your back pocket. Shake hands with guests at the meeting, make eye contact and tell them you were honored to be invited to speak. Distribute business cards and bookmarks.  A well-written thank you note sent a few days later will impress.

Jan Dunlap, author of the Birder Murder Mystery series, is a popular speaker at bird watcher club meetings, nature centers and retirement communities. Find a niche in your area and scratch it! Use your knowledge to become a sought-after speaker and it will parlay into book sales.

Be sincere; be brief; be seated.”–Franklin D. Roosevelt, on speech making

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