How to not suck at public speaking

I read somewhere that most people fear public speaking more than death. I know a lot of authors who take this attitude to the max. Writers can be an introverted bunch. Unfortunately for some of  them, one of the best ways to sell a book is to do public speaking. Your book becomes the “back of the room sale” along with your consulting services. It’s way easier to make good money this way than by selling a book one at a time.

Public speaking is also a good way for a consultant to sell their services. When I first started my business, I was asked to speak at a Sales Pro meeting on “How to Research Your Marketing Niche.” My goal was not to suck. I succeeded…barely.

The second time I spoke about self publishing to a writers group of about 8 people. I set my sights a little higher – to not have people sneak out the door when I turned my back. Well, I succeeded. I think everybody was still there at the end.  I was starting to get the hang of speaking and even enjoyed it.

So when I had the chance to participate in a Speakers Dojo with Angela Libby Jankousky of Turning Point Presentations, I jumped at the chance to improve my speaker skills beyond “not sucking.”

Some things I learned from Angela and from my fellow participants:

  • Watching your presentation on video is extremely useful and extremely painful. We all have weird mannerisms and speech patterns that are painfully revealed by video.
  • I’m shyer than I thought. (People who have met me are probably snickering at this.) I never thought it would be so hard to be, well, animated when I speak. But it feels weird. Kind of exposed, really. It’s getting easier with practice.
  • I’m not so scared now of bombing. You’ve got to practice to get good at something.

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