Being a Good Speaker

I’ve been listening to a lot of workshops – a LOT. Trish and I have proposed one for next conference, and I’ve been thinking about the dos and don’ts of speaking at conference.

Here are some of my observations:

1) A cute title does not a good workshop make. I’ve listened to several with intriguing titles that say the same thing over and over again. Please. It’s the hero’s journey/writer’s block/point of view. Don’t try to fool me. (Also, those long titles are really hard to write on a CD.)
2) Writers like to read. But DON’T read to us. ESPECIALLY if you’re reading the handout that’s in the book. I could have gone to a different workshop and read what’s in the book. (Hint: if you want people to come to your workshop, don’t put all the info in the book!)
3) Have a sense of humor. I listened to two by authors I didn’t know, but they were so charming, I’m getting their books now.
4) Be polite. I listened to another where someone asked a question (yes, a long drawn out question, but…) and the speaker interrupted and snapped, “So what’s your question?” Yikes!
5) Get people involved. We had a speaker at SARA who had us acting out a scene so she could illustrate misuse of backstory. It was hilarious, and everyone was paying attention.
6) Have something new to say. I know, not easy to do, but if you say it in a way I’ve never heard before, it may click with me. The one I listened to today that set wheels in motion was How to Revise with Anna DeStefano and Johanna Raisenen. Another one that had me perking up was How to Structure a Bestselling Novel. Give me ONE thing that I can use and I’ll love you forever.

Any other advice you can think of to offer a speaker?

Field trip today to the zoo - going to be gorgeous (though I hate field trips) then off for a week!! Yippee!

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Anonymous said...

I enjoy hearing personal stories about their "journey" toward publication, particularly the funny ones and the heartwarming ones. :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with Michelle :) I always love hearing those. Oh, how cool about the zoo, Mary! And yay for a week off.

Amie Stuart said...

Gee thanks Mary ;-) I just got asked to speak by my local chapter in April on self-promotion *gulp*

I'm the kid in school who hid behind the person in front of her on days we had to give oral presentations.

MJFredrick said...

The zoo was not too bad (I HATE field trips). I had 8 parents! I ended up with only 5 kids,but one was my cerebral palsy kid. She didn't want a wheelchair, but by the end we both needed it. Too much.

Cece, you'll be great. You're clever, you'll do fine!

Another thing I thought the length of the bios! Sheesh, one ran for 8 minutes!


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