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6 Posts tagged with the public_speaking tag


It's time to explore building your brand outside of the boundless arena of the virtual world and look at how you can build your brand in the real world. And the best way to do that is using a tool that most people dread, public speaking. Here are three ways to help you improve your public speaking skills.

1. Toastmasters: You've no doubt heard about this organization. There is a nominal fee to join, so it's not free. You will be both a speaker and listener as you practice the art of public speaking and help other members develop their skills as public speakers. The criticism is constructive and meant to help you grow. It is a well-known organization for a reason. It works.

2. Acting Classes: I know. I know. You didn't become an author to advance your career as an actor. Acting may be something that doesn't interest you in the least or it may even terrify you beyond belief. But the point of joining an acting class isn't to start your journey to winning an Oscar. It's for you to get comfortable with "performing." Giving a speech or doing a reading is just that, it's a performance. An acting class can help you own the podium and make your appearance memorable.

3. Improv Classes: Again, I know. Doing improv is most likely not your fondest desire. But thinking on your feet is a crucial tool as a public speaker. Not everything is going to go as planned, so being able to respond gracefully and seamlessly with humor is a key component to giving a successful speech or reading. As the Boy Scouts say, always be prepared. In this case, preparation deals with handling the unexpected.

Public speaking isn't a natural fit for most people. The only real way to succeed at public speaking is to practice public speaking. Doing so in a group with other motivated learners is the best way to master it and overcome your fear.

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Richard Ridley is an award winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Offline brand building

How to scare readers

968 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, marketing, writers, promotions, public_speaking, branding

Know Thy Story

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jan 14, 2015

I had the good fortune of being invited to a couple of writer's workshops this year. Both were enlightening and educational. I learned a lot from both the feedback I received and from listening to the other material that was presented. Beyond the exposure to different styles and genres, I got to see how other writers approach their work. The most edifying moments came when each author was asked to describe their stories. For the most part it was interesting, but there was the rare example of a few authors having no idea what their stories were about.



How could they not know what their own stories were about? I haven't a clue, but it was obvious. They started their description and then would meander off into a subplot, muddling the storyline so much that even they were too lost to get back to the main plot. When they'd finish their description, they'd invariably bark out, "Oh, I forgot..." and proceed to reveal a forgettable morsel of the story. They jumped from character to character trying to justify their existence. The reaction from everyone in the room shifted from attentive listening to polite head nodding to moving to the back of the room to see if any donuts were left.



Part of their befuddled delivery had to do with nerves, but part of it had to do with a lack of confidence in their main plot and its ability to carry a storyline. If you have no faith in the central theme of your story, you can't expect readers to demonstrate the faith for you.



If you're ever given the opportunity to discuss your book in public, know your story and have faith in your main plot. Don't veer off into sub-plots and minute character descriptions. Be concise and confident.



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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Character and Action

Write For the Story Not the Platform

3,641 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, author, self-publishing, writers, writing, public_speaking, event, craft, workshops, author_tips, author_appearance, book_events

I've mentioned a few times in this blog that public speaking is a great way to promote your work. Book clubs, libraries, alumni organizations, writing groups, conferences - the possibilities are numerous. However, I realize that for most people, getting up in front of an audience of any size is scary. Does the thought of public speaking make you nervous? I asked my friend Jezra Kaye, who has been helping people develop their speaking skills for nearly 20 years, for some advice for beginners. Here's what she had to say:

  1. We all worry about being judged. But remember that the audience you're speaking to wants you to succeed. They want to discover a wonderful new book or idea through your words. They're on your side.

  1. Speaking to a group is no different than speaking to one friend. As they listen to you, everyone in your audience is connecting with you as an individual, on a personal level, as if they're the only person in the room. If you speak to them the same way you would speak to one trusted and valuable friend, you'll be doing this exactly right.

  1. Good speakers make it look "natural." But the truth is, they've prepared and practiced - a lot. If you prepare your thoughts and practice out loud, this will come more and more easily every time you do it. And pretty soon, you'll be looking like a "natural" too.

There you have it, candid thoughts from an expert whose diverse client list includes CEOs, scientists, artists, authors, and entrepreneurs. If you'd like to learn more about Jezra, visit her website.

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She is the award-winning author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper and It's a Waverly Life. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at

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Want to Be a Speaker? Plan Ahead!

Small Marketing Steps: Radio

2,036 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, marketing, promoting, public_speaking

Public speaking is a wonderful way to get the word out about your book. However, you'd be surprised at how much advanced planning is involved in setting up even the smallest of events. Coordinating with a local book club or business group could take months, and major conferences select their speakers up to a year in advance!

If you want to secure speaking engagements, you need to start way ahead of time. Before you start your outreach, you should create brief yet compelling descriptions about yourself, your book, and the topic(s) on which you can speak. Include a professional headshot and cover art of your book. If you have any testimonials from individuals or organizations that have heard you speak, include those as well. Save this document as your "speaking bio" and update it regularly with anything impressive about you or your book, e.g. awards, press mentions, or other organizations to which you have spoken.

Next up is outreach. In last week's post, I stressed the importance of tracking your marketing efforts, so if you took my advice and have already created a marketing spreadsheet, that's one less thing on your to-do list. As you begin your research and outreach, keep track of each organization you contact (or plan to contact) with enough detail to refresh your memory the next time you visit the document. The purpose of the tracking document is to keep you from reinventing the wheel, so be sure to note relevant information, which can vary for each organization.

As you go, you'll probably receive multiple replies along the lines of "We'd love to have you speak at [name of conference/event/club/etc. here], but we're all booked," so you'll quickly learn the importance of starting early. But that's okay! There's always next time, and you've already done the research for that particular organization. Plus, each time you reach out, you're not only networking, but also making contact with a potential reader - and that never hurts.

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor. She writes romantic comedies and provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at

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Keep Track of Your Successes

Keep Your Chin Up!

2,208 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, marketing, book, writing, tracking, public_speaking

As an author, the chance to speak to a group (large or small) is an incredible opportunity. It is in every sense of the word an "event," meaning it is out of the ordinary. People are taking time out of their day to come hear what you have to say about your book. This is your chance to connect with readers on a very personal level - a level beyond social media interaction and e-mail exchanges. It's an honest-to-goodness face-to-face meeting between reader and writer, so it's imperative you make the most of it.


I make the most of my appearances by bringing a haul of books with me to my speaking engagements. And you may be surprised that I don't offer these books for resale. I bring books as gifts for members of the audience. Here's why: it's important for me to make an impact with those who sit in a room for an hour or so to listen to me talk about my books and the publishing process. So, I reward them for their time. On the surface, it appears that I am losing sales, but that's not how I look at it. I'm making an impression (and an investment) that is adding more mouths to my word-of-mouth campaign.


As an example, I was recently invited to a speaker's night at a school. I brought a box of books with me, and I had a line of kids (my target audience) after the presentation all wanting a free signed copy of one of my books. I ended up running out of books, so I worked out a date with one of the teachers to return with more books. The teacher contacted me the next day and thanked me profusely. He said the kids couldn't stop talking about my books and the presentation. A few of the kids even sent me friend requests on Facebook a couple of days later. I made the connection I was after, and I left with new "recruits" to help spread the word about my books.


I count such giveaways as a marketing expense. It's all part of my strategy to gain as many readers as I can. I encourage you to give this strategy some thought for your next speaking engagement. You don't need to bring hundreds of books. Bring as many as you feel comfortable giving away. I've worked both extremes. I've given away 40-50 at events that cater to my demographic and a half dozen or so at events that don't draw big members of my readership. Ask the organizers what kind of crowd they are expecting and how many they think will be in attendance.


Your job as an author is to recruit readers. In turn, these readers will help you make sales. Good luck and happy recruiting!



Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Preparing for a Personal Appearance

Four Tips for Real-Life Networking

2,189 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, marketing, book, networking, promotions, public_speaking, speaking, event

I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to speak to a group of kids, parents, and teachers a few weeks ago. It's an invitation that would have sent me into a panic-induced coma less than a decade ago, but not anymore. You see, I had a problem with public speaking that almost prevented me from putting together a coherent sentence if I was speaking to more than three people at a time. But I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone in 1999 by taking a sales job that I had no aptitude for, and I slowly learned how to talk to people. The groups grew larger and larger over time until I was comfortable speaking to a room full of people. It became easier to do, especially when I realized that the audience wanted me to succeed as much as I wanted to succeed. It's as uncomfortable for them when a speaker bombs as it is for the speaker.

I'm not a professional speaker, and the audience knows it. I enter the room with as little pressure on me as possible. I don't memorize anything, I don't write a word-for-word speech, and I prefer not to use slideshows. I like when it's just me and an outline of topics I want to cover. Here's a list of ways I prepared for my latest personal appearance that you may want to apply next time you're planning your own:

  • I asked the organizer why the audience would be attending the presentation. If they were coming to hear me, then I knew I could focus more on my books and my journey as a writer. If they were coming to find out more about publishing and writing, then I would focus more on the business of writing as a whole. Turns out on this occasion it was going to be a mixture, so I created an outline that broke the presentation into three sections: the current state of the publishing industry, my place in it, and my writing process.
  • I prepared a few pages of what I'm currently writing to read to the audience at the end of the hour-long presentation.
  • I gathered copies of my books to give away after the presentation.
  • I gave myself plenty to do on the day of the presentation so I wouldn't harp on what I was going to say that night. The more I think about a speaking engagement, the more nervous I make myself, so keeping busy lets me effectively block it from my mind and go into the event feeling loose.

As cliché as it sounds, open with a joke. I like to refer to the person who introduces me because he or she usually says something overly glowing and totally undeserved about me. It's easy to come up with a self-effacing line when you follow such an introduction.

I considered the appearance a rousing success. I spoke for an hour and fifteen minutes, signed copies of my books until I ran out, and then promised those remaining that I would return when I had more books and finish the signing. They were thrilled, and I'm scheduled to return next month.

Look for opportunities to do some public speaking. The interaction you have with a group of people is invaluable. You get a real feel for the people you're trying to reach with your writing, and you build a special relationship with the people who are ultimately going to be your word-of-mouth campaign. Remember, your audience is pulling for you to succeed - they are on your side!

I'd love to hear about any experiences you may have had addressing a group about your books or writing. Any tips or advice you'd like to share?

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Do I Really Have to Self-promote?
Four Tips for Real-Life Networking

11,742 Views 3 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, books, marketing, marketing, book, book, networking, networking, author, author, promotions, promotions, public_speaking, public_speaking, speaking, speaking