Fear of speaking in public is reputed to be one of the top things people everywhere are afraid of. It’s right up there with snakes, spiders and dogs growling the bared teeth. In fact, according to the article, Fear of Public Speaking Statistics, many think they’d rather die than speak in front of a crowd.
Yet speaking can be a great way for freelance writers to market themselves and get new business. Not only that, speaking can improve your writing skills.
The best and easiest way to become a good speaker is to join Toastmasters. This international group has probably trained more public speakers than any other organization in the world. There are groups in most communities and I promise that if you attend with reasonable regularity and do most of what they suggest you’ll end up being a decent speaker. To give you a taste, check out their 10 Tips for Public Speaking.
Perhaps the best way to get started using speaking to help your writing business is to begin talking to small, community groups in your area. Your goal, of course, is to speak to groups that have members who will hire you. Those can be difficult to identify, particularly if you’re in a smaller town. But it would be good practice to speak even to the garden club (I’m guessing that you’re not writing about gardening) because you never know who is there or who will pass along your information.
The next step might be just working the local yellow pages under clubs and/or associations to find groups that you might want to speak with. Of course, a local Chamber of Commerce might be helpful too.
When you go be sure you take plenty of business cards. Everyone should walk out of the meeting with at least one of yours. If you’ve got a brochure, take some along. Or even better, start a signup sheet so you can capture names, phone numbers and email addresses. Be willing to schmooze afterwards.
Now, I said learning to speak would also improver your writing. When you’re speaking to a group you’re getting instant feedback in a way that’s impossible with a written piece. As you learn to organize for that type of presentation you’ll find you’re bringing some of those skills into your writing; your writing will improve.
Learning to speak in public is a good deal for any freelance writer, and worth the nerves.
Tell us about your public speaking experience.