5 Speaking Tips

post by Michelle Griep

If this hasn’t happened to you yet, it will.

When I signed up to be a writer, there were certain things I expected to be part of the job . . .

– a pajama/fuzzy slipper dress code
– Hollywood producers knocking at my door to beg for the rights to my story
– the paparazzi shadowing my every move
– a mailbox full of adoring fan letters

Okay, so those might’ve been pie-in-the-sky type of expectations — except for the jammies. Reality is writing isn’t all that glamorous, unless your slippers happen to have sequins on the toes. But the real ugly truth about writerly expectations is that there are some that weren’t even on my radar screen.

Like speaking to a group.


I know. I hear you. “Wait a cotton pickin’ minute! I’m a writer, not a speaker. That means I’m an introvert at heart. Standing in front of a group not only makes me break out in hives, it gives me the sweats, the stutters and the . . . well, let’s just say I need a clear shot to the restroom.”

Even so, Bucko, when you’re a writer, you will be asked to speak in front of groups. How are you going to manage without curling into the fetal position? 

Never fear. Have I got a handy dandy checklist for you . . .

Know what you’re going to say.
The more familiar you are with what you’re going to say, the less uncomfortable you will feel once you start talking. And the beauty of this is that you can do it alone in front of a mirror. Or if that creeps you out, just do it alone. Whatever, it’s key that you practice what you’re going to say so that if fear does strike when eyeballs are zeroed in on you, at least your mouth can keep going even if your heart stops.

Know who your audience is.
Is this a group of newbie writers you’re speaking to or the Ladies Aid Auxiliary? It makes a difference. Find out what the group you’re speaking to is interested in and tailor what you’ll talk about to those interests.

Slow down.
Whatever your normal speaking speed is, slow it down two notches. Pretend you’re talking to preschoolers if you need to. This not only helps you annunciate clearly, it keeps the audience from leaning forward and cocking their heads all crooked to figure out what in the world you’re saying.

Do a giveaway.
This one is kind of a given. Who doesn’t love to win a prize? And if you hold off on announcing the winner until the end of your speech, a lot less people will wander out of the room because they won’t want to miss out on their chance to snatch up some loot.

This one sounds like a stupid no-brainer but honestly, you’d be surprised at how many speakers are so nervous they forget to smile. An audience is much more likely to enjoy what you’re saying if you don’t look like you’re scolding them.

Incorporate these five easy things and your next speaking gig will be a success. Not promising, though, that you still won’t need extra duty deodorant. It’s never comfortable standing alone in front of a crowd, but here’s the bonus . . . there just might be a Hollywood producer in the audience and a paparazzi waiting for you outside.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.