1) What made you decide to write Connect! A Simple Guide to Public Speaking for Writers, and why is it important for a writer to speak publicly?
I came about the idea to write Connect! after reading posts by writers on listservs about how frightened they were about speaking in front of people. I actually train people in Public Speaking, so I thought I’d write a short and simple how-to to ease the fear and give helpful tips to make the experience a pleasant one.
As for why it is important, Public Speaking is the best way for a writer to build his or her platform. A platform is your visibility to editor, agents, and readers. Without fail, editors and agents will ask about your platform because they expect you to sell your book.
2) What is the biggest mistake people make in speaking publicly?
Not being prepared. It is disrespectful to your audience to “shoot from the hip.” They have paid money or taken the time out of their day to hear you because they need what you have to give. So give them your best.
3) You always seem so comfortable when you’re speaking. Are you a natural speaker? Do you have “the jitters” before you speak?
I may get a few butterflies, but the minute I stand before a group we connect. I remember that I’m not up there for me, but for them. I also remember that I’m just a writer telling other writers what’s worked for me. Anyone can do that.
4) On the flip side, you talk about “blunders” in your book. If someone so poised as you can blunder, maybe it will help us beginners to know you’ve had embarrassing moments, too. Care to share one – or two?
Just one or two? I make them all the time. It is how I recover that makes them no big deal. Just last May at the Oklahoma Writers Federation Writer’s conference I was speaking about the importance of writing our connection with the historical events that have occurred during our lifetime. “For instance,” I said, “how about John Glenn, the first man to walk on the moon?” Of course, I was quickly corrected since Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. I smiled and accused them of being too nit-picky, we all laughed and went on. Another time, for some reason I can’t explain, I decided to wear leggings under my skirt. However, after sitting down waiting for my intro and then getting up on the platform, my “stretched out” leggings started working their way down. I was paranoid that they would soon fall to the floor. Situations like that make it hard to think. So I now recommend putting on the clothes you plan to wear before speaking, sit down in them, then stand up and walk around.
5) In your book, you talk about how “platform” brought together your speaking and writing. Can you tell us how platform “married” speaking and writing?
Speaking takes writing by the hand and introduces it to the reading world. Speaking showcases writing and opens up wonderful opportunities that writing otherwise would never have seen. Writing is the poet. Speaking is the singer.
6) You’ve mentioned that “Your Speaking Style” is your favorite chapter in your book. Tell us why.
Most of us have the habit of comparing ourselves to others. However, when I realized how my personality was “wired” I understood how unique I am. I also understood I have unique strengths and weaknesses. No one could improve me or change me. I had to do that myself. Now that I have embraced who I am, I can enjoy others without feeling inferior or superior.
7) If you could give one piece of advice to someone who will be speaking publicly, what would it be?
Practice! and after you’ve practiced, Practice more!!!
8) And finally, would you like to tell us about upcoming projects?