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Prepare to Present with Confidence

[1]Please welcome author Donna Galanti [2]to WU today! Donna, a frequent presenter, is here to share a bounty of tips that promise to make us more comfortable, efficient, and effective presenters. More about her:

Donna is the author of the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy and the children’s fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series. She is represented by Bill Contardi of Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents, Inc. Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers The Big Thrill [3] magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem [4]. She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Donna enjoys teaching at conferences on the writing craft and marketing and presenting as a guest author at elementary and middle schools. She also loves building writer community. Check out her 4 Proven Steps to Connect with Readers Right Now ( [5]Before Your Book Even Comes Out!).

You can learn more about Donna on her website [2], and by following her on Twitter [6] and Facebook [7].

Prepare to Present with Confidence

As authors, we need to be in the public eye. Often this includes presenting at conferences, being a guest author at conventions, giving school assemblies, doing group author events, and more. Saying YES to these opportunities will force you to get over your public speaking fear. You may even come to enjoy it! Doing public events can also open many new opportunities for you as an author.

I was so nervous the first time I had to give a talk that I didn’t sleep well the night before, I felt nauseous all the way to the event, and my heart raced as I thought, “What if I make a fool of myself?” That was my biggest fear. I’ve come to realize that when all those people are staring at me as I speak that they are there because they want to be there – and are interested in what I have to share.

I’ve come a long way since that first talk to a small group of 35 people at a monthly writer’s group meeting. I’ve given dozens of presentations to groups of 50 to 350, from children to adults. Speaking events are now one of my favorite things to do as an author – and I never thought I would say that!

General tips to prepare:

To prepare for an in-person audience before you even create one, take notes at other presentations you attend. They can be any type of presentation, not just one for writers. Did the presenter have a handout, a PowerPoint, or exercise? Was it quality information in a manageable chunk?

Mimic what worked for you as an attendee to deliver your own passionate, quality presentations. Provide a survey to your audience, gather emails for your newsletter, and follow up with positive responses to request a testimonial.

People love handouts! You can distribute yours after the presentation so they must stay for the duration, but do let them know up front you will be giving one out at the end so they don’t have to take so many notes. I prefer to distribute a handout in the beginning as some people use it as a reference and take notes directly on it.

  1. Tips to combat anxiety:
  1. Tips to create your presentation:

“A HUMAN ELEMENT is an elegant and haunting first novel. Unrelenting, devious but full of heart. Highly recommended.” -Jonathan Maberry, NYT best-selling author of ASSASSIN’S CODE and DEAD OF NIGHT
  1. Tips for using visual aids:

Visual aids should provide an engaging supplement to your talk and can be a powerful tool to enhance your presentation’s impact.

  1. Tips for setting the stage:

Go the Extra Mile:

Follow up with those who filled out your survey or signed up for your newsletter with an email thanking them personally for attending. For those who had positive things to say in your survey, ask them if you can use their words as a testimonial. For those who didn’t fill out a survey but signed up for your newsletter, thank them for attending and include the survey again in case they missed it.

Do you want to improve your public speaking or gain experience? You can start out small by asking your writer organization, and other local groups, if you can speak at their monthly meeting. This is how I started!

You don’t have to be a top expert to position yourself as one through public speaking.  You have valuable information to share that is unique to your experience. Find meaning and value in it to share with others so they can benefit. Don’t compare yourself to “the top experts.” Think about how you can share your expertise – through personal stories, events, successes, and the techniques you learned. Keep in mind that you are an expert on your own unique path.

You also don’t need a book out to position yourself as an expert with public speaking. If your book is on its path to publication, you already have plenty of experience to share. This could be geared toward readers or writers about your writing process, themes connecting your writing to your life, editing, research, setting, characterization, or writing for a certain market. Also, if you do have a book being published, others in authority think you are already an expert related to your book. This could be your agent, publisher, editor, peer, or even early reviews.

I hope these techniques help you prepare to present with confidence at your next public speaking event – or your first one! What techniques have helped you speak to a group?