Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Public Speaking—Even For Authors Who are Sissies



Sandra here with a special guest today with a timely topic. The other day on the television news they announced the results of a survey of what do Americans fear the most. The answer:  Public Speaking.

Our guest today, Ann Lee Miller has written a delightful post on this very topic. Please give Ann a Seekerville welcome and let's learn how to overcome that fear.



Public Speaking—Even For Authors Who are Sissies

I swing between terror and adoring the adrenalin rush of public speaking. But I can’t deny publishing threw open the door to public speaking, and public speaking promotes my novels. A sweet gig if you can get it. And just maybe you can. Since publishing in June 2012, I’ve been caught up in a good ‘ol Arizona dust devil of speaking opportunities. In the past year, I’ve participated in 36 events in 2013, most of them speaking engagements.




After moving to New Smyrna Beach, Florida, at sixteen—with a broken leg—I discovered speech class was required for graduation at my new high school. The prospect of enduring this cruel and unusual punishment marched me off to the guidance counselor’s office to plead for an exemption.

No dice.

To make matters worse, at the end of my junior year, my friends convinced me to cash in my notoriety from being the new girl on crutches by running for vice president of our class. They claimed the same students had been in power since middle school and the class was long overdue for a government shakeup.

How hard could VP be, right? Just a figurehead position. So, I filed the papers.
Surprise! I had to give a five minute campaign speech in front of the 310 members of my class. I’m not a quitter. Well, my friends made sure of that. The debate team member—who grew up to be a VP for Habitat for Humanity—told me to practice my speech in front of the mirror.

Gee, thanks.

When the day of the speech arrived, my goal was to not emit any embarrassing bodily functions on stage. Somehow, I survived the speech without committing social suicide. While I slumped in my chair recovering on the corner of the stage, the class sponsor announced Homecoming Queen votes would also be cast.

For all my whining, things didn’t turn out so badly. I was elected vice president of the senior class and member of the homecoming court. Best freak accident of my life.
Still, I didn’t take up public speaking until I hit my forties—motivated when a retreat presenter asked what desires we had yet to fulfill.

As the wife of a pastor, I’d never considered speaking. Wasn’t one person in the family who talked for a living plenty? Besides, I knew what good speaking was, and the latent perfectionist in my head told me I was not at that level.  But, the more I thought about it, the more I was convinced this was a true desire of my heart. If you search your heart and believe you’d like to pursue public speaking, believe God is nudging you to try it, or you’re a masochist… say yes!

Before You Publish

No matter how many heart palpitations you have to weather, say yes to every speaking opportunity that comes your way—


Teach your child’s elementary class about a painting by a great master.
Lead a Bible study.
Speak at youth group.
Teach a class at teen camp.
Teach your writers’ group something you’re good at.

I did all these before I published and lived to tell about it. Look for your own open doors, and get started.

Public Speaking Tips (I asked my pastor husband, Jim, for some of his favorite tips)

Know your audience and communicate in a language they will understand.
Keep track of non-verbal feedback. If everybody is sleeping, maybe it’s time to depart from your notes.
Engage your audience by asking for feedback—a show of hands or verbal comments.
Use humor. Everybody loves to laugh.
Know what your goal is. If motivational, have listeners make a commitment before leaving the room.
Be a person of integrity. Give credit where it’s due. Check your facts.

Find Your Cheerleaders

A lot of us wake up every morning awash in insecurity—mostly self-generated—so I don’t see the point in seeking out constructive criticism. Instead, find your cheering section.
Family members
Friends
Co-Workers

My husband and four kids rooted for me all along the way. I don’t think I could have succeeded without hearing “good job” and “I’m proud of you” on a regular basis.
Authors are supposed to ignore our mothers' effusive praise for our writing in favor of our critique partner's comments. Maybe your mom has leftover compliments to lavish on your speaking.

Gather friends who think you're funny or smart; the ones who push you to fulfill your destiny. Look for the people who "speak life" into you week after week. Ask these positive folks for their encouragement as you dive into public speaking. You'll probably be surprised by how creative and enthusiastic they are about the job.

What About Stage Fright? Yikes!

I should have felt confident when publishing opened the flood gates of speaking opportunities. But I wasn’t. The only thing that seems to quell freak-outs is speaking often. Since most of us don’t have the luxury of speaking frequently, we have to soldier through.


Here are some things that help:
Practice your speech a few times, but don’t over-practice it.
Realize you don’t have to be perfect. If one person takes something you say home, you were successful.
Pray. Show up. Do your best. Let God speak through you.

What on Earth Do I Talk About?

Look for the themes that run through your novels for topics to speak on. If you felt strongly enough about a theme to write three hundred and fifty hopefully gut-wrenching pages, then you probably can speak passionately on the topic for twenty minutes.


In my case, Avra’s God focuses on forgiving someone who has done us wrong.





 Tattered Innocence attacks how nearly impossible it is to accept God’s forgiveness and to forgive ourselves. What audience wouldn’t want to learn how to walk out the door guilt-free?





Kicking Eternity talks about chasing our dreams. This topic is especially well suited for teens and young adults, but often older audiences need encouragement to work toward their remaining dreams, too.






The Art of My Life is about failing to measure up.







Most things we write about contain universal truths or emotions. Tell how you became passionate about the topic you wrote about. Chances are, most of your audience struggled with your issue at some point in their lives.



Do Speaking Engagements Grow on Trees?


In my experience, ninety-plus percent of speaking engagements come through networking. So, shake all the trees/people in your life and see what tumbles out. Someday we will field speaking requests when they come in. However, most of us don’t start there.



  • We start by asking everyone we know if we can speak at her event.
  • Make a list of your friends, acquaintances, business associates, and relatives who might secure speaking gigs for you if you asked.
In October, I traveled to New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where I attended high school over 30 years ago and where I set my first four books. The guy I went to junior prom with now teaches English at our old high school. He let me teach all seven periods of his AP English classes. The gal who fixed us up for that prom date went on to become the reading supervisor for the county. She opened the door for me to speak to all the English classes for three periods in Atlantic High School in Port Orange, Florida. Martin County High School in Stuart, Florida, where I attended eighth-tenth grades, allowed me to speak to English classes. 

  • Library, churches and resources located in settings of your book
In the town where my books are set, it was only a matter of e-mailing the library to get a speaking gig. I also spoke at a juvenile detention center because a friend’s niece worked there. A church book club had me speak as a result of my friend talking me up to her co-worker.

  • Local radio stations


When I asked, I also snagged a three-minute interview on the local radio station. I was scared to death, but figured what better place to start than in a small town where listenership is minimal?



  • Check out schools located in settings of your book

I was able to speak to a community college Christian group because my books were set nearby. My daughter had a great relationship with her English prof at Chandler-Gilbert Community College near our home in Arizona. He agreed to let me speak to his creative writing classes, and he’s had me back every semester for the past few years. Two of my writer friends are college professors—one teaches English, the other communications. Both have had me speak to their classes. A friend who is a local high school English teacher let me speak to her classes, too.
My daughter finished the last two years of her education at my alma mater, Ashland University in Ohio. Her position on the leadership team for the campus Christian fellowship opened the door for me to speak to a group of over three hundred college students at a worship service last February. I spoke for the Women In Dialogue program at nearby Ashland Theological Seminary—my husband, son, and daughter-in-law’s alma mater—because a long-time friend was in charge of lining up speakers. Due to my family members’ connection to the seminary, the institution allowed me to speak at their chapel service when I was in town. The president of the seminary gave such a beautiful introduction I nearly cried—I had mentored his daughter through a rebellious period many years earlier.
The day I spoke at Ashland Theological Seminary, two ladies in charge of the women’s program at our denomination’s annual national conference attended and afterward asked me to be their luncheon speaker.



  • Look for unique and unusual settings for booksignings.

On a related topic, after hearing that unknown authors get poor turnouts for book signings in bookstores, I held mine at the town’s farmers’ market. This was hugely successful because many people walking through the farmers’ market were intrigued by books set in their town.

Also, on the trip to Ohio, my book cover artist—whom I attended college with—Robin Roberts of RedRedDesign.com, let me combine a book-signing with his scheduled monthly art-walk in his gallery. Many old college friends I hadn’t seen in decades attended.

Somehow, though planning is not really my thing, last Spring I found myself on our district’s women’s retreat planning committee.  When I showed up for the meeting in Tuscon, Arizona, the ladies asked me to be the retreat speaker. All of a sudden, planning got a lot more fun. This is one of the examples of how publishing swings open doors to speak.
If you haven’t caught on yet, I knocked on doors, but God had clearly set all these connections in place years and decades ago. Look at the connections God has already placed in your life, and start asking for opportunities to speak.


Easy Ways to Promote Public Speaking

List several talks you are prepared to give on your website.


Keep a calendar of speaking engagements on your website.

Make sure your contact information or form is easy to find on your website.

When the host of an event is particularly complimentary, ask for a couple of glowing sentences to post on your website and send to prospective venues.

Post five-minute sound bites—or video clips when available—of your talks on the page where they are listed. Often the venue records guest speakers, and you only need to request a copy.

When writing to request speaking engagements, give a couple references—with their e-mail addresses. Of course, ask permission of the references beforehand.

Set up a book table to sell books at your speaking venues.

Pass around a clipboard for audience members to sign up for your mailing list and receive a free gift—perhaps a free e-copy of a short story you’ve written. I send free e-copies of my novel, Kicking Eternity. [Also available free on request at AnnLeeMiller.com.]

Since I’ve only been published a year and a half, I rarely charge for speaking. So far I’ve broken even on speaking trips by selling enough books to cover expenses or from speaking honorariums.  From speaking, along with blog tours, Facebook, Twitter, and a three-times-a-week blog, I’m making a modest, but steady, income on my books.

I’d love to hear your hopes, fears, successes, and things I’ve left out! Please join in the conversation by leaving a comment.

Those who comment and/or share their experiences and ideas for public speaking will be entered into a drawing of a choice of two of Ann's ebooks.





Bio:
Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her husband or meddling in her kids’ lives. Over 95,000 copies of her debut novel, Kicking Eternity, have been downloaded from Amazon.

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87 comments:

Debby Giusti said...

Looks like I'm first to welcome you to Seekerville, Ann! Loved your post. Great speaking tips.

When possible, I like to meet the folks in the audience before I speak. That way we already have a connection. Meeting them ahead of time calms my nerves somewhat and helps me relax.

BTW, I'm an OSU grad. :)

Marianne Barkman said...

You mentioned Arizona, Anne. Does that mean you will be at the Glendale Chocolate Affair next month? I do my very best to stay out of the limelight, but give me a screen (computer) or phone, and hear me talk books!does that count?

Marianne Barkman said...

Sorry, Ann...I should have checked spelling before hitting publish. I love your post, and say a hearty Welcome!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

I speak in public when I have to, but that's it! I've been the head of a county law library who had to give tours every few weeks, and a children's librarian who ran the summer reading program. I can do it when (and if) I have to...

That said, I LOVE YOUR BOOKS.

I'm a huge fan of your writing! Lovely, lyrical, and straight from the heart. You have an uncommon gift.

If I never hear you speak in public, I'm sure glad you've put your books out into the world for me to read.

Cindy W. said...

I use to be terribly shy. I mean the kind of shy that if someone looked at me I would turn red and turn around to find the nearest exit. Thankfully, I grew out of that when I was in my early 30s. Now, put me in front of a large group or a very small group and I blossom and talk my heart out. Put me in front of a mid to small group (about 30) and I sometimes stumble a little (not really sure why).

Thank you for the post. Have a wonderful day!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Talk about a chock full lesson! Ann what wonderful ideas for preparing... and then just going in and getting the job done!

And thank you for the advice on how to promo talks. That's always a tricky thing, depending on where you are. Now if I was Richard Castle, they'd be chattin' it up in the New York Times....

But I'm not, so I get Suburban News. :) Hey, at least it's still in print form, LOL!!!!

Times, they are a-changin'!

COFFEE SEEKERVILLE!!!!! I've got regular and a really nice chocolate almond that isn't weak... I don't do weak coffee, we all know that!

And it's a Panera day because I'm editing my summer book "His Montana Sweetheart" and yes, that is a shameless plug for my part in this upcoming continuity!!!! I had so much fun in virtual MONTANA!!!!

Check back later, dudes.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Deb Giusti I like that too. It breaks down any perceived boundaries before hand and they start thinking I'm nice....

Cuts down on the bad-tomato-throwing aspect later on!!!!!

Jackie said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Ann.

I enjoyed your post today. Thanks for sharing about your journey.

I'm not a public speaker, but when my family or friends get up to speak I always smile and nod in agreement.

Glynna Kaye said...

Welcome, Ann! WOW! Everything you wanted to know about public speaking in one concise post! Thank you!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Yawn! It's 5 a.m. in Arizona and I thought I be one of the first ones up this morning. I forgot about crazy writers' hours. What a nice way to wake up, reading your sweet comments and drinking a cup of Caramel Macchiato sweetened tea.

Good morning to night owls Debby Giusti, Marianne Barkman, and early birds Virginia Carmichael Munoz, Cindy W., Ruth Logan Herne, Jackie, and Glenna Kaye! Thank you for the warm welcome. If I could, I'd send you some warm Arizona temperatures!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Debby!

That's a great suggestion to meet folks in the audience before speaking. I always do that, too, but I forgot to mention it. Often I pick up some little tidbit about an audience member to mention in my introduction--which not only makes me relax a bit, but makes the audience feel good, too.

Very cool that we went to college down the road from each other. What did you major in?

Ann Lee Miller said...

Good morning, Marianne!

I've lived in Phoenix for fifteen years and have yet to make it to a Chocolate Affair! Thanks for the reminder. Maybe this will be the year. :)

Of course, it counts to talk books via computer or phone! I bet a lot of us writers would choose the computer as our favorite mode of communication.

Have a great writing day, sweetie!

Debby Giusti said...

I majored in Medical Technology--worked in the clinical laboratory.

Now writing...

Go figure! :)

Thanks for the warmth from Arizona! We're iced in, and hoping to catch a 1:44 flight to Tampa for the Love Inspired Reader Luncheon.

Send sunshine to melt the ice! :)

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Virginia,

Great to meet you again! And so cool to hear a little about your career path. I've never stepped foot in a law library, so I'm super impressed.

Thanks for your beautiful words about my writing. You made my day! A gift from you and Jesus. :) Ahhhh!

What state do you live in? I would love to meet you in person if I'm ever in your neighborhood. And let me know if you ever get to Phoenix!

XXXOOO

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Cindy W.,

Great to meet you. I was a shy kid, crossing the street to avoid speaking to someone on the sidewalk and hiding behind my extrovert mother whenever possible. I came out of it at St. Hugh's Catholic School in Miami, Florida, as an adolescent.

Good for you, becoming comfortable speaking to large groups! I nearly faint before talking to big audiences. I tell myself I just have to live through it. Ha!

Thanks for chatting!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Good Morning, Ruth!

Ha ha. As if anybody would throw tomatoes at you! I did have a kid flip me off once, but that was when I was substitute teaching, so it doesn't count.

Here's wishing you a great day at Panera and get lots of editing done. I hope Montana Sweetheart is set in the summer so you can think warm thoughts. :)

I'm with you--any press that comes out in real print is a coup! Here, here for the Suburban News!

You go, girl!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Jackie,

Thanks for reading my post and chiming in. If all of us did public speaking, there would be no one to listen. :) Those of us who feel compelled to speak are so, so grateful for supportive listeners like you!

Blessings!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Glynna,

Thank you soooooo much for giving your turn on Seekerville to me! I am delighted to hang out with you all today. :) :) :)

XXXOOO

Ann Lee Miller said...

Debby,

Praying you get to Tampa safely today. Have a great time at the Love Inspired Reader Luncheon and soaking up Vitamin D in my birth state.

I bet your medical background has come in handy in your writing. Also, having developed both your analytical and creative sides makes you a well-balanced writer. I think my analytical side has shriveled to the size of a raisin.

Enjoy Florida for me!

Ann Lee Miller said...

FREE E-COPIES OF MY BOOKS--in exchange for posting an honest review on Amazon! Just let me know if you're interested at AnnLeeMiller.com.

:) :) :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Brilliant, Ann!

Timely too. I've come out of my shell to give it a shot this year.

THANK YOU!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Debby Giusti. That's another brilliant idea.

Where I come from OSU means Oklahoma State Univeristy. :)

Audra Harders said...

Good morning, Ann and welcome to Seekerville. OMG, public speaking. Just tear out my heart now, LOL!

I've never willingly sought out speaking engagements. I've found I can rise to the challenge when roped into a situation by surprise. I used to be an Organization Leader for a 4-H club. I spoke regularly in front of 53 members and their parents. What a rush.

Watching my audience became a very important factor. I had to constantly make eye-contact with kids to keep their attention focused on me, and with their parents to make sure the project we were discussing was doing to get the support it needed. If I saw eyes were glazing over, I had to shake up my spiel. It didn't take long for speaking in front of my club jitters to disappear and soon I had very little trouble speaking at events across the county through the 4-H program.

Lots of prayer; smile; and be able to laugh at yourself : )

Great post, Ann!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

I'm going to the Chocolate Affaire and speaking. SO EXCITED.

Mary Hicks said...

Good morning, Ann! I hyperventilated just reading the title of your post! :-)

I'm so glad there's people who can speak in public and actually enjoy it... not me!

You go girl! :-)

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Tina,

Wow, you are coming out of your shell in a big way to speak at the Chocolate Affaire! I'm going to try hard to attend and meet you. :)

XXXOOO

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning ANN and welcome back to Seekerville. I slept in today, something I rarely do so I'm glad you're up and already going at full speed.

And what a great topic. Having been a teacher I can get up there, but I get so nervous every time. Actually I found I do better if I'm nervous. Whenever I'm too comfortable I don't do as well. Go figure.

But I do think public speaking is important. It helps build readership. Readers enjoy meeting authors. I always find that amazing, but it is true.

Have fun today and thanks again for dropping by.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Good morning, Audra!

I loved the points you added--lots of eye contact and being able to laugh at yourself. So glad you mentioned prayer! I do my best praying before a speech. Terror does that to you.

Your journey of gradually getting more comfortable speaking sounds a lot like mine.

Thanks for contributing! And have a super day.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi DEBBY, that is a great idea. I"ll have to remember that.

I brought some yummy oranges off my tree. They are perfect at this time of year and my naval orange tree has the sweetest oranges. I've filled a bowl of already sliced oranges and added some walnuts and shredded coconut. They will go nicely with the Panera RUTHY brought. smile

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hello Mary Hicks!

You made me laugh. Even after doing a lot of speaking, I'm not so sure I wouldn't hyperventilate right along with you. Ha!

Thanks for stopping by. :)

Ann Lee Miller said...

Waving at you from across town, Sandra Leesmith!

Thanks for always being so supportive, inviting me to Seekerville, and helping me refine my article.

You're the best!

XXXOOO

Sandra Leesmith said...

Just wanted to insert here that Amazon does have my book Love's Refuge free today.

And don't forget to download Ann's book Kicking Eternity . It is free also and a terrific read.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Thanks for the plug, Sandra. :)

And my lemon tree is going crazy if anybody is dreaming of fresh-squeezed lemonade. Or maybe one of your characters needs a bushel to ward off scurvy.

Last season we had so many lemons we froze the juice and had more than enough lemonade for my daughter's wedding.

Just stop by, and I'll send you home with a grocery bag full!

Myra Johnson said...

Welcome, Ann! Oh, my--public speaking. I've done it. And I don't really get stage fright . . .

UNLESS . . .

I have to speak without a printed speech!

If I don't have the words written out in front of me, no telling what will come out of my mouth, and believe me, a lot of it won't be intelligible!!!

I keep hoping with practice and experience, I'll get more comfortable talking directly to my audience instead of relying so heavily on notes. And I know I enjoy listening to speakers more if they seem natural and engaged.

But for this confirmed introvert, it's just . . . so . . . hard!!!!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Myra!

I'm an introvert, too. And my notes have gotten briefer as I've gotten more comfortable speaking. So, you're right where you should be. Keep on marching forward. Good for you!

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks, Ann! Coincidentally, I'm participating with my writer friend Dora Hiers tomorrow in a library program showcase. Anyone interested in presenting something during the county library system's summer program series gets to have a display table and also give a 5-minute talk during lunch.

Yes, I wrote out every word of what I'll say during our 5 minutes!

Ann Lee Miller said...

How exciting, Myra. May it go great!

Jeanne T said...

Wow, Ann. You've got a whole class (or maybe two!) wrapped up in this post. Fabulous.

I am not terribly afraid of public speaking. When I was going through the courses to get my Master's degree, I had to do a presentation as part of my final grade for each course. I get nervous, but not tongue tied. :)

But, going out to ask people to let me speak to their group? That makes me NER-VOUS. :)

Your husband's tips are great. :) One thing I stumbled onto when I had to give a speech was to open with painting a picture that my fellow students might resonate with: "Imagine you are a principal......." And I laid out the scenario. I had every eye in that room hooked from then on. :)

I find it most comfortable to have my notes in front of me. When I don't, I sometimes mix up my stories. :)

Loved your post today!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hello, Jeanne T.!

Great tip on opening with painting a word picture for your audience! Similar might be starting with a brief anecdote that makes the listeners laugh. I always relax when people laugh.

Thanks for contributing!

Meghan Carver said...

I have spoken a couple of times to our ladies group at church, once about books and once about journaling. It's a great way to get my feet wet since I'm surrounded by supportive women I already know. Anything I said would have been well received, since half of their reason for being there was the pitch-in. :-) Thanks for the wonderful tips, Ann!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Meghan,

What a perfect place to start public speaking! My church ladies are super supportive, too. :)

Mary Connealy said...

So....Ann....you're saying my current approach of ducking all speaking opportunities that come my way with every ounce of effort and creative ducking at my disposal is ........WRONG?

wow, I have to rethink my whole approach.

Mary Connealy said...

I do have to say here that with each new section about how to shake the trees for speaking opportunities, my blood pressure rose and my vision blurred.

Throw in a few gasps of pure shock that ANYONE would actually try and be a speaker and I think we have summed up my reaction to this blog.

Calling the doctor to see if she has Xanax in IV form.

Mary Connealy said...

btw I just took a Beth Moore Bible Study class with videos of Beth speaking and it helped rip the veil of competence from my eyes.

I am amazed at her presence and skill and ENERGY as a speaker and now loath my speaking skills even more.

Mary Connealy said...

But don't anyone go by ME!!!! GET OUT THERE AND GIVE SPEECHES.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Ha ha, Mary Connealy, you crack me up! Only speak publicly if you want to. Good for you having requests you have to dodge. :)

I attended an ACFW Phoenix Chapter workshop on Saturday where I met a gal who wants to grow up to write like you. Then, she described the whole opening scene to one of your books. Very cool! You write, girl!

XXXOOO

Mary Connealy said...

ps I am giving the lesson at my local RWA group in March.
I'm already ready, got hand outs printed up.
My problem doing this (they are all really nice ladies) is I feel stupid teaching them anything because they are all as good are better writers than I am, which just makes what I'm saying NOISE. But we need to take turns teaching I suppose and I did volunteer.

I'm very very brave!!!!!

Mary Connealy said...

I have one speech I give over and over, modifying it slightly depending on the group. I have a more faith based version and a more straight version, though I mention faith in it.

It's about "Your Dreams Can Come True."

It's actually a very nice speech and when ever some one has me come I politely inform them that THIS IS IT! ONE SPEECH! IF YOU ASK ME BACK I'LL HAVE TO GIVE THE SAME SPEECH AGAIN SO DON'T.

Fortunately (or maybe they've just learned their lesson) no one ever asks me back.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Mary Connealy,

Very brave and adorable! Just make sure that sense of humor that oozes out your pores shows up in your talk. At the very least, they will have fun. And laughter is so very healing.

God will use all your suffering/terror for good to bless those ladies. This is laying down your life for your friends.

:) :) :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I have an affair with chocolate right up here in the Arctic tundra called upstate New York!

But I'd love to see AZ someday, bring Dave down and go see cool sights. Arizona has such rugged, different beauty and I know Dave would love it.

And I'll bring chocolate when we come so we can have our own chocolate affair with the AZ writers!!!!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Love to have you come visit Arizona, Ruth! Word to the wise: Arizona is one long hot flash from Mother's Day to Halloween. :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I actually wrote that comment hours ago and probably had to WORK and didn't post it.

But now I can laugh at Connealy because she's like watching Gracie Allen...She pretends to be awkward in her brilliance and people eat it up with a spoon and then buy a gazillion books and then ask her to be Godmother to their children.

It's really annoying.

Whereas I bet Ann Lee is A STINKIN'-DORABLE and suave. And really cute.

And I can't wait to read your book, I bet I've got some teens/tweens here that will love it.

Oh, must go change to winter picture. I look COLD in that tank top!!!

Marilyn Baxter said...

My tip is to imagine your audience naked. *grin*

You offer great tips! My RWA chapter has a segment at the meeting called "Craft Corner." It's just a 10-15 minute talk and I've done one on taxes for writers and also one about reviews since I used to be a reviewer. A small group of people you know is a great starting place. Then you can work your way up to bigger audiences. My ex-husband and I had a business back in the 90's and a couple times I spoke to groups of several hundred. Again, it was an audience I knew and I spoke on a topic I was comfortable with.

And in other news, my e-book is up for pre-order on Smashwords. It should be on the other sites by week's end and on my publisher site later today. I can't stop grinning. :-)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Marilyn, how exciting!!!!! Hooray for you!!!!

I got an unexpected invite to speak to a huge quilting guild in September, at a lakeside retreat about an hour away....

And of course I said YES!!!!

My husband will be shaking in his farm boots that I won't be able to resist coming back with something gorgeous from the quilting convention.

:)

And he could be right!!!!!

But how fun will that be, chatting up Christian fiction with all these talented people???

And Ann Lee, I'll take your points and suggestions right along with me!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Okay, I look WARMER now!!!!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Ruth, obviously Mary Connealy isn't the only one around here with a well-developed sense of humor. Ha!

I was a-stinkin-dorable (at least according to my very near-sighted man of my dreams)till last night when I tripped over the dog and face-planted into the tile. Now I have a witch's knob on my chin and another one on my knee.

Okay, going back to my imaginary life now....

Ann Lee Miller said...

Congratulations, Marilyn Baxter!

Tell us the name of your book so we can check it out. :)

The imagine-your-audience-naked suggestion was the first one out of Jim's mouth. I totally should not have edited him. Ha! Great suggestion.

Congratulations again. There is nothing like holding your book in your hands.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Ruth,

You have enough energy/enthusiasm/caffeine to own that talk! You go, girl! Sell enough books at the event to cover your quilt purchase. Easy peasy.

Julie Lessman said...

ANN!!! SO fun to see you back in Seekerville, my friend, and WOW -- GREAT post too!!

LOL ... I have to laugh at your story about trying to get out of speech class, because it was my favorite class in college. The teacher was SUCH a jerk and so awful that half the class dropped out by the end of the first week. At the start of the 2nd week, he smiled at the class and said, "Now THIS is the right size for a great speech class," and he was absolutely WONDERFUL from that point on!! :)

But the funniest story I have to tell about that class is when that teacher pulled me aside and said, "Julie, in all my years of teaching, I have pushed and prodded students to emote and express themselves as much as they can, but I must say, you are the first student I have ever had to tone down." ;)

I love to speak and it comes as naturally to me as breathing, so I always thought I would have a 50% writing ministry and 50% speaking, but I've discovered that as much as I like doing it -- it's not worth the stress to me of preparing and taking time away from writing, so I leave it to the experts like you! :)

Hugs,
Julie

Sandra Leesmith said...

Popping in and cracking up. MARY I heard you speak in Atlanta last year. TWICE. Don't let her kid you folks. She is funny and fun to listen to. So there.

And RUTHY, love the warmer look. Great photo. And yes, Ann is "stinkin adorable" Gorgeous in fact. I just know she is great to listen to in spite of her jitters.

ANN that is one of the best descriptions of an Arizona summer I've heard. My mother used to say after moving to Arizona "Well I'm going to be good from now on because now I know what hell is like." lol

Sandra Leesmith said...

JULIE I can just picture your teacher saying that. You could be toned down but then it would ruin the whole thing. That is what is so fun about you. All that enthusiasm, esp for the Lord.

Congrats MARILYN

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Julie Lessman,

Waving at you from across the country!

It is so cool to discover you're as energetic doing public speaking as you are on the page. And I know you're funny in person, too.

An expert. Ha! I am a bundle of insecurity most of the time when I speak.

If the prep time is what kills you, why not have two or three talks that you use over and over to different audiences. They come across differently each time as God brings to mind varying illustrations and life experiences. And you can include a question-answer segment.

It just seems like a shame that someone with your delight and gift wouldn't have time to use it. Just sayin'....

XXXOOO


DebH said...

I've never really thought much about public speaking. I've done some Adjunct Instruction at a local University, so I guess that counts. Did a lot of speech stuff in high school, so I'm relatively comfortable with the idea. This post is a wonderful list of great ideas. I've also read your book Kicking Eternity and enjoyed it very much.

MARY: I'd love to hear you speak. Even if you're only half as interesting as your books, you'd still be ten times as interesting as lots of other speakers IMHO.

RUTHY: I love you new pic. You do look warmer. And I know you'd be uber great as a speaker too. Look how awesome you are here at Seekerville.

Come to think of it. All the Seeker Ladies would rock the speech circuit.

Mary Connealy said...

She pretends to be awkward ???
Ruthy Quote??? She pretends to be awkward

Okay, yeah, let's go with that. All that awkwardness when I speak, yep, just faking it. Part of my persona.

(horrors)

CatMom said...

Welcome Ann! The thought of public speaking makes me nervous--yet talking to folks one-on-one is a breeze for me (my husband has said that I'll talk to anyone who's breathing, LOL).
But thank you for sharing with us today, and congrats on your successful career!

RUTHY - - I LOVE your new photo!! SO cute!!
Blessings from snowy Georgia,
Patti Jo

Mary Connealy said...

DebH if it goes like most of my speeches, if you do ever get to hear me speak, I'll just sit next to you and my speech will be us talking...............I don't usually get much of a crowd so that will work out perfectly.

Mary Connealy said...

And Tina's speaking at a Chocolate Fair?

Why do I end up at book fairs? Not nearly so yummy.

WAY TO GO TINA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Deb H.,

Great to meet you at Seekerville.

Awesome that you're comfortable with speaking already. You have a huge asset most of us don't have. You go, girl!

I'm so tickled you liked Kicking Eternity! :)

Have a great day, sweetie!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Patti Jo,

Since you already have the gift of gab, I bet you'd be great at public speaking--if you want to do it, that is. One of my favorite parts of speaking is that I don't have to fight for my turn to talk. :)

Marilyn Baxter said...

My title is TEA FOR TWO and it's only $0.99. It's a Lunchbox Romance from Boroughs. These are short stories designed to be read during your lunch hour so you get your romance fix while you eat.

Thanks for asking!

Marilyn - still grinning

Ann Lee Miller said...

Marilyn Baxter,

What a great idea-Lunch Box Romances!

Everybody, keep your eyes peeled for TEA FOR TWO!

Yay!

Missy Tippens said...

Ann, welcome! What a great post. I would never think of so many connections to look into for speaking! What great ideas.

Thanks for sharing the tips. I ultimately end up enjoying speaking, but I'm always a nervous wreck beforehand. I guess I should say I enjoy having spoken. LOL

Missy Tippens said...

I should also add that I love Q&A. So the dialogue with the listeners is the fun part for me.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Missy,

I totally get how you feel. That's me to a T. But I do get calmer when I'm speaking often. :)

Here's wishing us both lots of speaking opportunities!

Have a great writing day!

Chill N said...

Ann, your ideas for different book signing locales are wonderful. I noticed when I'm speaking to my writing groups or at other gatherings where I know everyone, I'm fine. It's the other times that can cause dry mouth extraordinaire. One public speaking tip a writer friend gave me was to assume that everyone there likes you and is eager to hear what you have to say. It helps me ... and so does having a water bottle handy :-)

The cover colors for Avra's God are really eye-catching!

Nancy C

Ann Lee Miller said...

Welcome, Nancy C.!

Thank you for remembering the water bottle! It slipped my mind, but I always keep water handy. And what a great idea to see your audience as people who like you and want to hear what you have to say. I love that and will remember it in the future.

Thanks for the compliment on the Avra's God cover. :)

Happy speaking, Nancy!

Mary Connealy said...

Hey Sandra, thanks for reminding me of Atlanta. I'd almost gotten over the PTSD, but now, I think I'm starting to hear cannon fire when I close my eyes...again.

wtg

Cara Lynn James said...

Ann, welcome to Seekerville! Thanks for the excellent tips. Public speaking isn't something I like doing, but sometimes I force myself -- when I don't have any other choice!

Mary Connealy said...

Mostly people are really kind so I have no real idea of how I did because they are only kind.

I tried to join Toastmasters but I went to a few meetings and it's so FAR from where I live I just couldn't be a good member of it. So I gave up on that. But it was an act of extreme bravery to even attend.

Yay me! Except for when I quit. Ignore that part

Mary Connealy said...

I can usually handle Q & A, too, Missy. I mean, what can they ask me about my books that I don't know, right?

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Cara (& Mary),

Thanks for having me!

I'm glad you said you really don't enjoy speaking. Mary Connealy, and several others who commented, need a kindred spirit. :) I was in your camp for forty years.

I think God gives us the desire to do the tasks He designed us to do. Granted, sometimes doing those jobs takes courage.

Don't beat yourselves up if your agent, editor, or expert expects you to speak and you don't want to do it. Ask God what He wants, then examine your desires.

You girls are such gifted writers. Don't force yourselves to speak if you don't have to! Just keep writing, and listening to your heart sing!

Debra E. Marvin said...

I have found that if you do know what you are talking about and it's more than what your audience knows... it's much easier to do! so obvious, right? I dread public speaking.
A group that's small enough where you don't need a microphone is about my limit. Using a mic gives me the heebie jeebies!

that said... I did find your post very helpful, Ann. Wonderful points to consider and put into practice!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Debra Marvin!

Thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts.

I prefer the no-mic setting, too. But then I fret over my voice giving out.:)

Keep warm!

Sherry said...

Loved this line:

A lot of us wake up every morning awash in insecurity—mostly self-generated—so I don’t see the point in seeking out constructive criticism. Instead, find your cheering section.

Thanks, Ann!

Sherry

Ann Lee Miller said...

You're welcome, Sherry! Thanks for commenting, sweetie. :)

Edwina said...

Well, it looks like I'm last - as usual! But that's okay because your post was so helpful. It is my heart's desire to speak to women - almost more than writing for them. So I'm taking your tips and making them work for me. Thanks so much!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Edwina,

I'm so tickled you stopped by to comment. You are the only one who said she wants to speak as much or more than write! May God open up opportunities for you to touch women and enjoy using your gifts!