Writers tend to be introverts. They like to hide away in their offices with their computers and not talk to many people. Like most aspiring authors, book bloggers in many cases tend to be introverts, too. However, they’ve figured out that they can build that coveted author’s platform from the comfort of their lonely writer’s garret and never really, truly come out and make an appearance except in the blogosphere—online. They only need to blog and be social in places like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and now Pinterest. All that really shows up in these sites for the networking party is their photo and their words. And they are comfortable sending their words out into the world—even the vast cyber world.
Well, I’ve got news for you. Book bloggers occasional need to step out into the daylight. They need to leave their computers behind and actually meet people face to face. Not only that, they need to embrace the most traditional form of platform building: speaking.
That’s right. I’m suggesting you actually get up in front of audiences and talk about the subject of your book. Today I am writing about speaking. How do you make this huge leap? Easy schmeasy.
Oh, I know. Most people fear public speaking more than they fear death. It’s true. As Jerry Seinfeld jokes, “This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
Here’s what I have to say about this:
- Fear = False Evidence Appearing Real. That means that you think you have a lot of reasons to be afraid of getting up in front of an audience and speaking but actually you don’t. The evidence for that fear is not based on any reality. It’s false evidence–mostly evidence created by your mind. You are making yourself afraid with your thoughts. Change your thoughts. What’s the worst thing that could happen? You bomb. You make a mistake. So what? You’ll do better next time. What’s the best that could happen? You do really well. You make no mistakes. People love you and your ideas and want to read your blog and your book. They purchase your services. You have to start somewhere and sometime.
- Fear and excitement are the same. Get over feeling afraid by realizing that excitement feels just about the same and both emotions come from the same place inside you. Stephanie Chandler, author of Own Your Niche, told me that before I got up in front of more than 300 people last weekend—one of the largest audiences I’d appeared before. I’d heard it before, but it helps to remember this.
- Remember you are speaking to people. Speak to the audience conversationally. Remember there are people out there in those seats. Look at them. Connect with them. When you see them looking back at you, you’ll feel better. Smile at them. Get off the podium if you can and walk around. Ask them questions. Engage them. If you know someone in the audience, get them to smile back at you. Have that person nod and let you know you are doing okay.
- The only way to get better as a speaker and get over your fear is to go out and speak. That means go out and get yourself booked as a speaker and start speaking. I started out speaking here and there at synagogues and churches because initially that was my market as an inspirational and human potential speaker with a Jewish bent. I found a little New Thought church willing to bring me in every few months. Each time I had to speak on a different topic. Over time, I got over my nervousness. Speaking in front of 10-30 people was easier than large groups, although occasionally at other locations I had 30-75 people.
- Come up with a methodology that works for you. In those early days for the New Thought church, I planned out my topic on what I call “talk cards,” 3×5 cards with bulletted points. I would write out the whole talk and then whittle it down to these bulletted items with a little bit of content. I’d then hold my cards as I talked. It worked and I’ve stuck with that methodology ever since. Recently, I’ve added in PowerPoint, and I only use the cards for places in my talks where I have additional information. I use talk cards when I don’t have PowerPoint. Practice your speech enough times so you don’t have to read from a paper or cards; it’s okay to refer to a written document, though. Unless they are giving the same talk all the time, most speakers do have their speech written down.
- Get evaluated. Use an evaluation form to ask for feedback. This an be very helpful. People are happy to tell you what parts of your talk worked well and what didn’t. Think about video taping yourself or recording yourself so you can see and hear how you sound. This will help you improve as well.
- Do short videos to post on your blog. This is a great prelude to your “coming out.” Experiment with making your written message verbal.
- Create short audios to post to your blog. This is also a great prelude to “coming out.”
- Remember that you know your stuff. Simply talk about the topic of your blog. This is the area of your expertise. You are the authority on this topic. Remember that. Hold your head up high and own it. People have come to hear you talk about what you know.
- If you can write, you can speak. To write a great speech, just turn a great blog post or essay you’ve written into something you say into a mike. It really is that simple. Read it if necessary.
You can do this. Really. Every time you write a blog post, you are speaking to your readers through the words on their computer screen. Now just put a voice to those words and a face.
Why bother becoming a speaker as well as a blogger? Because when people meet you, they will like you and what you have to say even more. They will subscribe to your blog’s RSS feed and they will buy your book. (You definitely want to speak if your book is published already or will be soon.) A number of people pre-ordered my book just this past weekend after my session at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference.
Book bloggers write. And they do speak. Try speaking. You just might like it.