#23: Personal appearances – Yes, you!

They say that the #1 fear Americans have is speaking in public. It ranks higher than death. So if just reading the title of this blog throws you into a cold sweat, take deep breath and keep reading.

It’s not death. So it’s not worse.

There. Problem solved.

Personal appearances are wonderful chances to connect with readers. When you first start out you aren’t famous, so you won’t be asked to address large crowds. You will likely be part of a panel at a library, or give a 15-minute presentation at a genre meeting, or participate in a multi-author event or bookstore signing.

Take every single one of these opportunities that come your way! You will see that no one hates you, you don’t spontaneously burst into flames, and you aren’t pelted with rotten fruit.

Here are a few tips to make it even better:

1. Dress nicely. No, that suit from 1995 is not “nicely.” Invest in a few contemporary pieces of casual business attire that fit you well. You will feel more confident when you know you look good! Plus, you can:

  • wear them again and again when you appear at various places, and
  • possibly deduct the cost from your taxes. Ask your tax professional.

2. Don’t ever stand up and tell the audience you are “so nervous.” Speakers who do so make the audience uncomfortable. It’s the mark of an amateur. You are a professional. Present yourself as one.

3. Read from your book or manuscript. Practice in advance so the words roll smoothly off your tongue and with appropriate inflection. Don’t go over 5 minutes to start, but have a second reading “just in case.”

***AND: Don’t forget to have someone video the reading and post it on your YouTube channel.***

4. If you still need help, sign up with a local Toastmasters group to hone your speaking skills. After you attend a meeting, you can apply for membership: $20 new member fee, $27 dues every six months.

5. Search your area for Speaker’s Bureaus and get yourself listed as an expert in something you are writing about – or even in writing itself! If that’s too big a step, then partner with a friend and share the presentation.

Again, any opportunity that you can grasp will not be wasted.

Even if you end up chatting with one little grandma for an hour, she will pass your name on and on – and you just had a chance to practice your spiel! Or you hang out with the bookstore staff – you can bet they’ll remember and recommend your book!

You don’t need to wait until you’re published. Start now so that when you ARE published, you’ll be a seasoned pro.

The Power of “Word Of Mouth”

Word of mouth is why social media and personal appearances are so important. Technology is merely a conduit to relationships; and relationships take time to develop before you get a return. But meeting real people and investing genuine effort will make your social media marketing and your personal appearances pay off.

Because they’ll go onto their social networks and tell their friends all about you. Be gracious so they have lots of nice things to say!

Remember, there is no return until someone engages with you. You might THINK you have a fantastic website or Facebook page or blog, but if no one is talking to you, you need to figure out: why aren’t they? Face-to-face, you’ll know if you’re connecting; what does – or does not – move your audience. That’s invaluable feedback! Use it!

Be aware that American shopping has changed: with online connections, MOST of your customers will find YOU. We don’t need bookstores and salespeople as much as we need browsers, an accessible “public” face, and our online communities.

2 Responses to “#23: Personal appearances – Yes, you!”

  1. 1 Paisley Kirkpatrick 02/18/2010 at 12:46 PM

    I have had one experience speaking to a group of older ladies at a book club meeting. I went with my cousin and they asked what is is like to write instead of reading a story. I was amazed that I spoke for twenty minutes and they asked really great questions and asked me to come back some time. Surprising thing, I wasn’t nervous at all. Once I started talking about the business and my stories, they were so interested that it propelled me on.

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