July 13, 2021-We’re talking about public speaking this month, and we’ve got some great tips to share for authors! Speech writing 101 (Best Practices) is what we’re focusing on today, but let me begin with a story.
I was in Boston for a writer’s conference where the speaker was a breakout author who hit number 1 on the NY Times bestseller list and had a host of new followers who were excited to hear her speak. I’ll never forget what happened next; she entered the packed conference room and took her place on centre stage; she smiled and said, “This is my time.” And for the next two hours, the audience listened to her drone on and on about pointless details and self-indulgent tangents. I observed the crowd from my seat at the back of the room and quickly noted that the audience was gone-she no longer had their attention. Let’s make one thing crystal clear; this isn’t your time, it’s your audience’s time, and they are spending it voluntarily listening to you speak. Don’t disappoint them by talking about things that don’t matter to them or that glorify you and make you come off as arrogant, conceited, and insufferable. Now, let’s get down to it; here are 5 things you need to know about speech writing best practices for authors.
- Be memorable. Make an impression with your audience. I usually like to be memorable not only by my speech/presentation but by something I’m wearing. Maybe I’ll wear all black with my neon yellow pair of pointed stilettos, a stunning statement necklace, or a signature red lip. You can be memorable in so many different ways, including adding theatrics, comedy, or anecdotes. Be aware that people remember stories! So tell some that are relevant for your presentation.
- Be organized. There’s nothing worse than listening to a speaker who goes off on a tangent. You have no idea where they’re going with their presentation, and they usually don’t revisit the main point they were trying to make because they’ve forgotten. Organize the points you want to make and ensure that they’re useful and valuable to your audience. Just like writing a novel, you want an intro (start where the action is), middle (main points or the ‘plot’ of your speech), an ending that wraps everything up with a bow.
- Come out swinging. Don’t waste the opening of your speech; this is your chance to grab your audience’s attention and make an impact. Yes, there are people to thank, and you’ll want to introduce yourself. Still, the truth is…no one cares who you are-they care about what information you can give them to make them better writers, and that you entertain them, inspire them and make them feel like they got something of value by listening to you speak and that they didn’t waste their time.
- Know your audience. What are you speaking on, and who are the people listening? What do they want to know? What do they want to learn? Put yourself in their shoes. Are you capturing their attention and providing value by talking about yourself and your accomplishments the entire time? No, of course not. Listen to your speech from their perspective so that you can decide if what you’ve written is educational, entertaining, inspiring, and captivating.
- Be relatable. Nothing is worse than a presenter who has a chip on their shoulder or has their nose in the air. Your audience doesn’t come to you to feel bad about themselves or less than. Stop stroking your ego by using your platform for self-indulgent bs. It’s not about you; it’s about them and why they came to hear you speak in the first place. I was in a class once taught by a man who thought he could impress the room by telling us that he was gifted a Rolex while on a spiritual journey in the Tibetian mountains (I’m not even kidding!). What Rolex’s have to do with a spiritual journey still stumps me, but even more so, what those two things had to do with constructing a killer plot, were even more confusing. Be authentic, be yourself, and be relatable.
Stay tuned tomorrow when we continue with part 2 of this post, where we’ll dive into the writing part of how to write a speech. See you then!
May 28, 2021– As we wrap up our theme this month of Children’s Book Writing, we have a few more things to explore before moving on to our theme for June. This video is pretty cool! Check out this TedTalk by Artist Raghava KK as he demos his new children’s book for iPad with a fun feature: when you shake it, the story — and your perspective — changes. In this charming short talk, he invites all of us to shake up our perspective a little bit. Stay tuned next week as we announce what we’ll be talking about next month!
May 4, 2021– We thought that we should chat about comic books in honour of May the 4th (be with you)! Many people often think that comic books don’t count when writing for kids, but they do! Anything that kids are going to read let them read. Kids are growing up in a visual culture, so as a children’s author, do not discount the power of comic book writing. Also, remember that your comic book could be used as a teaching tool in schools and the marketing opportunities are endless. Today’s TedTalk is: Comic books and graphic novels belong in every teacher’s toolkit, says cartoonist and educator Gene Luen Yang. Set against the backdrop of his own witty, colourful drawings, Yang explores the history of comics in American education — and reveals some unexpected insights about their potential for helping kids learn. Check out our own take on a comic book for kids, Cake for Snakes, available here: Cakes for Snakes!: Bakker, Lacey L., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506325: Books – Amazon.ca
February 23, 2021– As we finish up our series for this month about breaking out of our comfort zones, we see that it can be uncomfortable to realize and be proud of our accomplishments and writing life because we don’t want to be seen as arrogant and perhaps, we lack the self confidence to feel as though we deserve them. If this has ever happened to you, you’re not alone! Even after writing eleven books and winning several awards, Maya Angelou couldn’t escape the doubt that she hadn’t earned her accomplishments. This feeling of fraudulence is extremely common. Why can’t so many of us shake feelings that our ideas and skills aren’t worthy of others’ attention? Elizabeth Cox describes the psychology behind the imposter syndrome, and what you can do to combat it.
December 4, 2020-Libraries have the power to create a better world; they connect communities, promote literacy and spark lifelong learners. But there’s one thing that keeps people away: the fear of overdue book fines. In this thought-provoking talk, librarian Dawn Wacek makes the case that fines don’t actually do what we think they do. What if your library just … stopped asking for them altogether? Click here to watch this TedTalk: https://www.ted.com/talks/dawn_wacek_a_librarian_s_case_against_overdue_book_fines?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare
November 30, 2020-You’re in a movie theatre, watching the new horror flick. The audience knows something that the main character does not. The audience sees the character’s actions are not in his best interest. What’s that feeling — the one that makes you want to shout at the screen? Christopher Warner identifies this storytelling device as dramatic irony. Directed by Ben Pearce, narrated by Christopher Warner. Let’s watch the Ted-Ed below: Christopher Warner: In on a secret? That’s dramatic irony | TED Talk
October 23, 2020– Why should a good education be exclusive to rich kids? Schools in low-income neighbourhoods across the US, specifically in communities of colour, lack resources that are standard at wealthier schools — things like musical instruments, new books, healthy school lunches and soccer fields — and this has a real impact on the potential of students. Kandice Sumner sees the disparity every day in her classroom in Boston. In this inspiring talk, she asks us to face facts — and change them.
October 16, 2020- I LOVE this TedTalk by Alvin Irby. According to the US Department of Education, more than 85 percent of black fourth-grade boys aren’t proficient in reading. What kind of reading experiences should we be creating to ensure that all children read well? In a talk that will make you rethink how we teach, educator and author Alvin Irby explains the reading challenges that many black children face — and tells us what culturally competent educators do to help all children identify as readers.
August 17, 2020-You need social skills to have a conversation in real life — but they’re quite different from the skills you need to write good dialogue. Educator Nadia Kalman suggests a few “anti-social skills,” like eavesdropping and muttering to yourself, that can help you write an effective dialogue for your next story. Directed by Joyce Stenneke, narrated by Rose Eveleth. Check out the TEDEd below:
August 7, 2020– Who is telling a story, and from what perspective, are some of the most important choices an author makes. Told from a different point of view, a story can transform completely. Third person, first person, and second person perspectives each have unique possibilities and constraints. So how do you choose a point of view for your story? Rebekah Bergman explores the different ways to focus a story. (Directed by Gibbons Studio, narrated by Susan Zimmerman, music by Fred Roux.)