All successful creatives have to speak and present in public, whether that's at a festival, on a podcast or radio show, or as part of earning multiple streams of income.
But you don’t have to be like Tony Robbins, bouncing around on stage with a booming voice and larger than life personality. You just have to be you and tell your story in your own way. This is an excerpt from Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives and Other Introverts, Second Edition by Joanna Penn. The book is available in ebook, paperback, hardback, large print, and audiobook narrated by the author.
Here are some possible reasons why you might want to include speaking as part of your author career.
(1) Help and inspire 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. Watching the light dawn 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 an 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 all up, this is the anchor I hold on to. I made a commitment when I started my blog, TheCreativePenn.com, 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) Personal development
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 also enable you to face your fears and help yourself by helping others. You will share your own stories and personal experience, and in sharing from your heart, you might be able to work through your own issues.
(3) Market your creative work and harness word-of-mouth
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 in a 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 help, 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 which many other authors will turn down.
(5) Successful creatives have to speak eventually
Best-selling authors and creatives speak at festivals, conventions, and events and also appear on the radio, TV, podcasts, 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 plenty of 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, those authors who can entertain and inspire in person will draw more readers to their written work — and sell more books!
(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 or workshop or seminar because people want to take something of you home as a reminder of a great event.
You can even start by speaking on a topic and then turn that into a book later, repurposing your material in several ways. For more detail, check out my book, How to Write Non-Fiction: Turn Your Knowledge into Words.
(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. I may even say ‘yes’ to speaking at an event because I want to visit the location or say ‘no’ because I’ve been there before.
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 offset the income goal in many instances, but I often get ideas for my novels when I travel. It is a life priority for me, and it nourishes my creative soul.
You never know who is in the audience when you speak, or what will come from your appearance on a 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.
So, what might be your reasons for speaking? How could public speaking help your author career?
If you want to learn more, check out Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives and Other Introverts, Second Edition by Joanna Penn. The book is available in ebook, paperback, hardback, large print, and audiobook narrated by the author.