Over the next several months I’m going to be posting about speaking engagements - why seek them out, how to get booked, what to speak about, etc. Since my personal experience with this subject is in speaking to groups of writers, that’s going to be my main focus. However, much of this will translate to other type speaking engagements as well.
Okay, let’s start by talking about the 800 pound guerrilla in the room - which is fear of speaking. If that’s one of your phobias you can take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. There are a number of surveys whose findings indicate public speaking outranks all other fears, including financial difficulties, snakes, falling off a cliff and even tax audits! Just listen to a few of the more well known of these:
- The Sunday Times of London surveyed 3000 individuals and found fear of public speaking as the number one fear reported by 41% of its respondents.
- A study conducted by National Public Radio, found 43% of respondents list fear of speaking as their number one fear
- According to The Book of Lists fear of public speaking even outranks the fear of death and disease.
I myself am a card-carrying member of the cold-sweats, butterflies-in-the-tummy, stage-fright club when it comes to public speaking. I’ve learned a few tips and tricks along the way, though, to make it a bit easier to tame those butterflies. But I’ll get into a few of those in my next post.
Because today I want to discuss something else. Namely why, if speaking in public is such a major stress-inducer, would you want bother with it at all.
Here are several very good reasons.
- I’ll start with an altruistic one: - Sharing.
Speaking is an opportunity for you to share your perspective and/or a skill you’ve acquired with others, a chance to ‘give back’ to those who are eager to learn from you.
- Then there’s the Opportunity To Learn something new.
It never fails that when I present a workshop or speak to a group, I end up coming away with some new bit of knowledge or a new friend or contact. And the best way to make certain you have these learning moments is to build in some audience interaction in your presentation. More on that in a future post.
- Another reason to look for speaking opportunities is that it’s a good vehicle for growing your Name Recognition.
We all know that, as authors, the more you get your name ‘out there’ the better it is for your career. Speaking, whether at local, regional or national events, provides an excellent means to get your name in front of a large number of people in a positive light. There’s usually publicity for the event, both in print media and in cyber-space, days, weeks or even months leading up to the event. Just by the fact that you’re a featured speaker you acquire an air of authority and celebrity.
- And lastly, there’s the potential for enhanced Networking
As one of the ‘special guests’ at a conference or other events you will sometimes have an opportunity to mingle with other speakers and industry professionals. in smaller groups, in a relaxed, no-pressure atmosphere, and better yet as a peer. I’ve built a number of relationships with editors, agents and booksellers that started from just such small beginnings.
So, that’s my list of reasons. Did I miss some benefits that you’ve experienced or hope to experience? If so, please share. And next month I’ll be discussing some tips and tricks for pushing through the jitters.