Cheri Cowell here:

My undergraduate degree is in theatre arts, so standing before a crowd and
sharing my message comes naturally. But many writers tell me, "I'm a
writer, not a speaker." If this describes you, let me offer a few tips
from the stage to make your next book signing, author coffee, or speaking
opportunity more comfortable


1. Get out from behind the podium. Most non-speakers want a podium to hold
on to and even hide behind, but the podium is a barrier between you and your
potential readers. It makes you look unapproachable, and it makes many look
small. If you use a podium for notes, come from behind it often and stand in
front of it with your audience. Make your point and then go back to your notes.

2. Speak slower and more clearly than you think sounds normal. Use pauses
after making a strong or delicate point. We've all listened to speakers who
speak so fast and without good diction and it frustrates us. Slow down, speak clearly,

3. Use a microphone. Most new speakers don't like to use a microphone, but
that screams amateur. Professionals use microphones. Arrive a little early to
test it out. Have a friend sit in the back of the room and give you thumbs up
when you've found that sweet spot where you are to hold the mic, stand near the
mic, or where it ought to be on your lapel. Then practice your volume level so
you know how soft is too soft.

4. Have an ending. Good speakers know how to end with a bow—not a literal
one, but one that lets your audience know they've invested their time wisely in
listening to you. Offer a challenge, end with a quote, ask a thought-provoking
question, or share a story. If you close with prayer, be certain the prayer is
a real prayer and not an opportunity to hammer your message home or make
another point. These kinds or "prayers" rub audiences the wrong way.

5. If you suffer from nervous dry mouth, get a product
called Throatcoat: The Entertainer's Secret. It produces saliva when your mouth
goes dry. A little goes a long way so don't overdo it, but after my embarrassing
lip-smacking live television interview (long story) I learned about this
product and it is great. No more lip smacking. You can find it on the Internet.

I'd love to hear from you www.CheriCowell.com

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2 thoughts on “I’m a Writer Not a Speaker: Tips from the stage

Brenda Nixon

May 1, 2013 - 08 : 08 : 07

Helpful post. On your last point, people need to know that the average speaker looses a QUART of body moisture for every hour she speaks. We must keep drinking water.
Thanks for sharing this and I hope it helps those who write and are shy speakers. LOL



May 2, 2013 - 22 : 37 : 29

What a great tip. I used to be afraid to drink water before speaking for fear I’d have to go to the restroom in the middle of my talk, but I no longer fear that as I know I sweat it out while I’m speaking. Doesn’t sound lovely, but it is true. The good news is no one knows until they go to hug me afterwards. Then they know I worked hard to give them my best.


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