How Writers Can Become Better Speakers

by drjim on January 20, 2015

If you can write, then you can speak

If you can write, then you can speak
Image Credit: Alec Couros

Due to the importance of public speaking, those of us who do a lot of writing often get called on to give speeches. Having the skill to put words down on paper is a great skill to have. However, it does not necessarily mean that we have the skills that are needed in order to be able to deliver an effective speech. The big question is how can we writers become good speakers…?

How Writers Shoot Themselves In The Foot

Interestingly enough, the #1 problem that writers have when giving speeches really has nothing to do with the giving of the speech. All of those little things like standing in front of an audience, speaking, not bursting into flames, etc. seem to come fairly naturally to writers. The biggest problem that writers seem to have is themselves.

What I have discovered is that all too often writers will engage in self-sabotage. What this means is that in their minds they will be telling themselves that they are not going to do a good job of delivering this speech. If you hear this kind of message enough and if you hear it from yourself, then eventually you’ll start to believe it.

So what’s a writer to do? The first thing that you are going to want to do is to block out any negative thoughts that you are having. One way to do this is by creating a phrase (“I can do this”) that you mentally chant over and over again so that your negative thoughts have no place to go. Instead of thinking about what you can’t do (give a speech), instead you need to start to think about what you can do (“I can write and I can give a speech”). Finally, remember to breathe deeply. This will help you to calm down and get ready to deliver a great speech.

The Great Thing About Audiences

One of the biggest things that trip a writer up when they go to give a speech is the audience. Or perhaps I should say that more clearly: how you perceive your audience can trip you up. What you need to understand is that more often than not you are going to be dealing with a “warm audience”.

What this means is that the audience already knows something about you. You are a writer and there is a good chance that the people who are sitting out in the audience have read something that you’ve written. This means that they’ve shown up to hear more from you – they really want to get to know you better.

As a writer / speaker you need to respond to your warm audience and give them what they are looking for. When they ask you a question after your speech is over, make sure that you respond to them in a story format: your answer should have an opening, middle, and a close. As a writer these types of questions should be easy for you to answer because you already know the answers.

What All Of This Means For You

The first step in becoming a good public speaker is having the ability to write an effective speech. Those of us who consider ourselves to be writers have no problem with this part of public speaker. It’s when we get to the next step, delivering a speech, that all too often we drop the ball. We just don’t have the skills that are needed to be an effective public speaker and so we can’t tap into the benefits of public speaking.

The first thing that most writers have to do is to remove all of the mental roadblocks that they create. These are the things that we tell ourselves that will diminish our ability to give a good speech. Next, we need to understand that the audience is on our side – they’ve read our writing, now they want to experience our talking.

Being a person who is comfortable writing is a skill that everyone would like to have. The next step is to become a successful public speaker. It turns out that this can be done if we know how to leverage what we already do well. Take the time to realize that you can be a good speaker and then go out there and share your thoughts through the power of public speaking.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that a writer should take more time to pratice giving a speech than other people do?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

For years and years folks in sales and people who are looking for a job have been reminded of the importance of public speaking and told to master their “elevator pitch”. This pitch is a set of one or two short pre-scripted sentences that tell someone who you are and what you do. When you encounter someone for the first time who does not have a lot of time to listen to you, an elevator pitch can be a great way to deliver a lot of valuable information in a short period of time. Is it possible that an elevator pitch could be part of your next speech also?

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