top of page

Author Events and Public Speaking: Strategies for Connecting with Readers

~ Sankalita Roy

As a self-published author, it allows important to build a sacred connection with the audience through author events and public speaking. It not only enhances connectivity but also builds your brand as an author. In the digital era, the face-to-face connection with real-life people is irreplaceable.

However, Public speaking has been one of the scariest things for people around the globe. Even writers who put down their thoughts with a pen easily can find themselves in scenarios where they do not know what to do and how to speak in front of a large audience. With a little bit of preparation and extra effort, you can always shine in these events leaving the audience mesmerized with your message.

As an English communicative trainer, I would love to discuss certain tips and tricks that can help you to speak in front of a large audience effortlessly and convey your message clearly:

1. Know about public speaking

Since most of the authors are good in English or their native language, they may not be concerned about what they are going to speak but it all comes down to how they are going to speak. The first step of your preparation as an author will be to research public speaking. As an English communicative trainer, the first step I use is show videos to my students about public speaking videos to my students and asks them certain questions:

  • What is the message of this talk?

  • How the speaker is trying to convey her message?

  • What makes the talk interesting?

  • How is her talk interesting if I mute the video for a few seconds?

  • What are the ways you can make your talk interesting? How?

These questions can help them to drive in depth to know about the various aspects of the video and understand them in a crystal-clear manner.

2. Prepare for your presentation

Preparation is one of the most essential things to keep yourself away from nervousness. You can either join a public speaking course or practice in front of the mirror. Remember that you always must appear natural and effortlessly not present an over-rehearsed version of your speech. Be open and be yourself; these are the things that build trust in the audience. Prepare a catchy introduction that may contain a story or a rhetorical question to grab the attention of the audience. In the middle, you may talk about your book and in the end, you conclude your message. This is what I would have done, now it is your time to think how to do yours.

3. Dress comfortably

Whatever you prefer to wear, ensure that you are comfortable with the fabric you are wearing. You should also wear shoes you are comfortable in. Remember to keep yourself away from distractions as much as possible amidst your nervousness.

4. Nourish yourself

Do not go out to give your presentation on a heavy stomach full of food. Instead, have your meal 4 to 5 hours before the actual talk. If you feel the need to have something, opt for something light but smart such as raw nuts, or protein bars that you can nibble on during the break.

5. Don’t overprepare

The main aim of public speaking is only to connect with your audience and build a sense of trust and loyalty towards them. the key is to be present and engaged with your audience. You may carry notes with hints about the points you want to talk about but don’t read out from your notes.

6. Take your time

As a speaker, we want to talk about various things that are interesting to us but we have to keep in mind the attention span of the audience. During the presentation, if you feel like certain things may leave out, you can do so. You aim to convey your message instead of discussing several things in one go. Stick to three points that you want to discuss and then conclude your message, “In conclusion, all I want to say……...”

7. Avoid ‘mums’ and ‘hmm’ and ‘you know

Sometimes, you may forget the things that you are preparing to deliver in front of a large audience. It may result in the use of hesitation filler such as ‘ ummms’, ‘hmmms’ or the usage of another common phrase like ‘ you know’ and so on. The key is to prepare yourself well before the big talk. once or twice usage of hesitation fillers is fine but if you use them in excess, your message may not reach the audience as it may impede your communication.

8. Involve the audience

Imagine a friend of yours is continuously speaking without letting others speak or involve themselves in the conversation. How would you feel like? boring? Sooner or later, you will put your hands on your head to wait for the conversation to end. Similarly, in front of a large audience too, your work is not to speak but entertain the audience(that is what my teacher advised me). But how can you do so? Here is the answer:

  • Storytelling

  • Rhetoric questions

  • Usage of slides containing pictures, graphs, and your previous achievements instead of describing them in detail

9. Sell your books

Speaking about your book events helps in the generation of your book sales. There’s a back-of-the-room sale in which you bring copies of your book, set the table up in front of your audience, put an autograph of your book and sell your books on the spot. Speaking engagements also generate post-event sales with online retailers and local bookstores when audience members seek your book out after the event.

Tech tips for speaking engagements

When you are booked for an author engagement, you are most likely to be asked about how you would like your room to be arranged. This is a beneficial thing as it helps you to understand the room, make yourself comfortable and speak without distractions.

There is a detailed outline of the things given below:

  • Room set-up: there are two types of room set-up. first is the proscenium style set-up (theatre or lecture hall style), and tables (luncheon style). If you are speaking in an auditorium or a small bookstore or library and they have set up the chairs in theatre style, ask for an aisle seat, so that you can walk up to the last row and make meaningful contact with each of the audience members. If you are giving a talk at a place where the tables are arranged in a luncheon or dinner style, ask the sponsor to arrange them far away so that you get a chance to move around whenever you are talking to the audience.

  • Microphone tips: there are several ways in which you can choose to set up your microphone. However, the best one is a cordless microphone because it gives you the freedom to move around easily with conviction and gives a sense of authenticity and naturalness to the speech. However, it is advisable to not use microphones with cords or long cords since it makes our movement restrictive. Sometimes, there are chances that you may trip over and fall which can be distracting.

  • Power Points: While talking to the audience about your book, you may integrate PowerPoint slides which are simple instead of talking in detail about things that require way too many words. These can include simple pictures about your life, graphs, charts and so on. While doing so, it is recommended to keep your focus towards the talk, not on the screen.

  • Podium or no podium: according to the Oxford Dictionary, the podium is a small platform on which a person stands to be seen by an audience, as when making a speech or conducting an orchestra. The choice of having a podium or no podium is the choice of the author. If you ask me, I would choose no podium because it creates a distance between the audience and the speaker. If there is an option between a small stage and a floor, I would choose the floor to build a genuine connection with the audience.

Marketing your book with speaking engagements

The main aim of speaking engagements is to build an author’s platform which allows you to connect with the audience in a large platform. however, how do you make your audience remember you and your books? Here are some tips:

  • Business card: after the speaking event, you may share your business card with people such as other writers, other companies such as podcast companies or any other publication company and audience to build your network. In the card, the following details must be present:

  • Your name

  • Phone number

  • Author website info

  • Email address

  • A printed hand-out with four or five highlights about your talk along with your book title, author website and contact info.

  • A notebook and a pen to record new leads

  • Book signing and networking: I remember the day when I dressed amicably in casual business attire with giant sunglasses for the first time. All I did was place my books on the bench and wait for long hours for my readers however no one came. the only reason was I didn’t inform the audience or made an effort to set up a perfect atmosphere in my stall for the sales of my book. I wasn’t good enough to talk people into buying my anthology. that day, all I did was observe my fellow authors along with their books, business cards, and bookmarks containing their quotes within them along with gift bags containing candies and ancient scrolls to create a lasting impact on the audience. It was my first time; I didn’t carry my pen too. Don’t worry you will do better. The connections I built there were invaluable. I got insights about how other authors’ book marketing strategies and how they build a good rapport with the audience. After all, how can we be writers without the readers? We have to make them know about us, right?

  • Book launch parties: recently, I was scrolling the pages of some of the writers who are on the same mission as I am today. I found one of them launching her book with a Ganesh puja. There are many potential readers, and newspaper reporters who make the event known to a large audience. In fact, after the press release of the many tilted series of Kolkata Diaries at Taj Vivanta and its publicity in the newspaper and promotional video, it became widely known to the audience, it sold the highest number of copies amongst my anthologies. Book signing and book reading sessions also become a part of such book launch parties. It helps the author to connect with their reader and built a genuine sense of interest in his/ her work.

  • Thank You Notes: after the talk, don’t forget to send thank you notes to each of the individuals who made the event successful. This includes the people in the publishing company, the readers, the organizers, the front-desk staff and so on. You can also include personalized copies of these books along with some of these notes. Kindness and gratitude count. Thanking people for the role they played builds a genuine sense of trust amongst the target audience. The word of the mouth becomes a part of the process consequently that makes the audience more connected to you and your social media platforms. When the next potential buyer will want a recommendation, those whom you have taken the time to thank will be more than happy to recommend your book.

  • Catalytic outreach: email or call your primary contact after the talk and ask them about any other organization that will be interested in your talk and the message you are trying to deliver to the audience. If your presentation was good the audience will be more than happy to provide you with other speaking opportunities.

At the end of the day, building your brand as an author takes time, effort, and consistency along with perseverance and dedication. Take your time, do the work and the rest will fall into place automatically. Moreover, you can never build a castle in a day.

13 views0 comments


bottom of page