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I'm a professional speaker, as well as an author. I'm also an introvert.
Public speaking is an important part of my creative business, currently making up around 30% of my income. It helps me to market my books, travel all expenses paid, and meet amazing people, but it also enables me to share a message of empowerment with writers, which I find amazingly rewarding.
When I spoke at the London Book Fair in April 2013, I mentioned that I was an introvert, someone who recharges by being alone, not uncommon for authors! I had so many comments about it that I decided to write a book for people like me.
“Public speaking for authors, creatives and other introverts” is available now on Amazon and also on Kobo. It's at launch pricing of 2.99 until 19 Jan, when the price will go up to 5.99. It's an info-packed resource that will help you with the practicalities of speaking, the mindset as well as the business aspects.
Here are some of the possible reasons you might decide to speak, excerpted from the book.
(1) Sharing your message. Helping and inspiring people
One of the most rewarding things about speaking is sharing your message and changing people’s lives. If you’re passionate about your topic and you communicate well, you will touch individuals, sometimes in unexpected ways. The light dawning in someone’s eyes as they suddenly understand that their life can change is fantastic, and I think many of us speak to help others. This is intrinsic reward, and the reason why some people speak for free to groups that might not be able to afford professional speakers otherwise.
Whenever I am exhausted from speaking and traveling, and think that perhaps I want to give it up, this is the anchor I hold on to. I made a commitment when I started this blog in 2008, that I wanted to help release a million books into the world. Every person that I empower to write, publish and market their book adds to the tally, and whenever I speak, I add a few more to the list. Whatever you speak about, consider how you might change people’s lives.
(2) Speaking can be personally transformative
When you craft a talk, you have to organize your thoughts into a coherent structure and lead people through a story. This
helps to order your own thoughts, and can change the way in which you think about a topic. Writing this book has helped me to clarify further what I want from my own speaking career, and we often teach what we need to learn the most.
Going outside your comfort zone is also valuable for personal development, and speaking in front of a crowd is one of those skills that can transform you and give you more confidence. It can help you to face your fears and help you through helping others. You also have to share your own stories and personal experiences, and I’ll come back to this in more detail later, but in sharing from your heart, you can confront your own problems.
(3) Marketing your creative work and harnessing word-of-mouth marketing
Speaking enables you to connect directly with people, and they are more likely to become fans of your creative work through seeing your face and hearing your voice. If people listen to you and see you in action, they get to know you better. They can ask you questions and you can demonstrate your knowledge. You connect with individuals this way, and great marketing is best done with a personal connection.
If you give a fantastic talk or seminar, if you are memorable for all the right reasons, people may well talk about you to their friends. This generates word-of-mouth publicity for you, the very best kind. People may buy your books or creative products, or attend your next workshop.
(4) Stand out from the crowded market
Thousands of books, and millions of creative products are put on sale each week, so how do you stand out? Being a professional speaker can mark you out, because most people would rather do practically anything else than speak in public. You have an advantage if you speak, because you can say yes to new opportunities.
(5) Successful creatives have to speak anyway
Best-selling authors and creatives speak at festivals, conventions and events and also appear on the radio, TV, and other media. Therefore, if you want to plan for success, you need to prepare for these events and make sure that you fulfill the audience’s expectations when you get there. I’ve been at many literary festivals where authors have given a poor performance and it has affected the way in which they are perceived by the audience.
In comparison, I saw Ms Cupcake, a creative cake-maker, speak at a women’s event. She was enthusiastic and passionate, demonstrating confidence in her business. As a creative entrepreneur, she has gone on to have a TV show, best-selling books, and a thriving cupcake business.
(6) Multiple streams of income
Speakers can earn a good speaking fee for a keynote speech, but can also run workshops or other events that may generate significant income. Many speakers sell books and products at events, but you can also include the price of a piece of your work in the cover charge so that all attendees get one as part of the event. ‘Back of the room’ sales are almost guaranteed if you give a great talk/workshop/seminar, because people want to take something of you home. Speaking has enabled me to become a full-time creative entrepreneur, making up around 40% of my income.
(7) Expenses-paid travel
This may be more of a personal reason, but I’m a travel junkie and one of my goals around professional speaking is to use it as a vehicle for travel experiences. When I speak in different cities, or even a different country, I generally stay on for a day or two after the event and experience a new place. This might negate the ‘income’ goal in many instances, but I often get ideas for my novels when I travel and so it is a life priority for me. It nourishes my soul!
You never know who is in the audience when you speak, or what will come from your appearance on that particular day. It may be that someone talks to someone else and suddenly you get a call that changes everything. You’ll never know unless you put yourself out there.
Those are some of the reasons I speak. I hope it might encourage you to consider speaking too.
“Public speaking for authors, creatives and other introverts” is available now on Amazon and also on Kobo. It's at launch pricing of 2.99 until 19 Jan, when the price will go up to 5.99.
Do you do any public speaking? Do you want to, or do you dread it? Please do share your thoughts, comments and recommendations below.