Speaking at conferences?

I have spoken at a lot of conferences this year, including Epicon (national ebook conference, VA Beach), Romantic Times (Houston), AggieCON (Texas A&M), CONquest 38 (KC), and SoonerCON (OK City).

And I’ve done readings at the National Poetry Convention (OK City) and hosted a room party at the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc. Conference (Also in OK City). I will be speaking at the White County Writer’s Conference in Searcy, Arkansas on Labor Day weekend.

And I’m working on getting some other speaking “gigs” set.

So, you want to promote your books? You want to start your speaking career?

You may be surprised to find out that most speaking engagements are settled by the author offering to speak, or listing themselves as “willing to speak.”

Feel free to contact conference programming chairmen to offer your services. Be sure and list your credentials. You can send a hard copy press kit, or a query via email.

Some speaking engagements pay, some provide room, travel expenses, and meals, as well as a speaking fee. Some are “free entrance into the conference.” Some offer free conference entry for your family.

When you start out, you need to be willing to compromise, and meet the conferences half way, and appreciate the fact that they’ll be putting you in their program book, on their website, and giving you speaking time, even if it’s only on a panel.

If you’re good, people will request you back, and spread the word about how great you were. So, to make sure that happens, be prepared on your topic, and learn panel etiquette, which means “not monopolizing the conversation” but being willing to fill in the quiet spots if other panel members aren’t as equipped on the subject. Also, learn how to keep things on topic, or to bring thigns back to topic, and make sure you’re not the one leading the panel off topic.

Think about these things:

A speaker should educate, entertain, and motivate. If they don’t do that, they aren’t a very good speaker. If they do one thing, they’re okay. Two means they’re good. Three means they’re great. Aspire to be a great speaker.

ALWAYS use the mic if it is available. Remember that half your audience is likely deaf or going deaf. Even if you think you have a booming voice, you need to use the mic. This is one of the biggest mistakes speakers make.

(More on speaking in other posts.)

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