Posts Tagged ‘public speaking’

RWA Workshop Tips – OK so it’s a slight rant

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

At the RWA National Conference in Washington D.C. this past July, I bought, for the first time, the workshops on DVD.

Oh – aside: I also went all cash at the conference and let me tell you how freeing it was to NEVER use the credit card. I had to hand over the card at the hotel, but after they took the card (in case I turned out to be a room destroying deadbeat) I paid cash for the room. The first day. Never once did I have to worry about how it would feel when the bill came due as there was no bill.

So, yeah. Anyway, I plunked down my cash for the conference DVD — because the hotel was paid for, all the rest was food and gravy, right? My DVD came a couple weeks ago and I’ve been listening to the workshops. I’m perhaps a quarter of the way through and I now have some tips for people giving workshops of any kind.

  1. Do not simply read your workshop essay. It’s BORING no matter who you are. Listeners will mentally check out as you drone on (because an essay just isn’t as exciting as, say fiction) so what’s the point? They’re not listening. Also, writers, being excellent readers, will invariably read TOO FAST. Not even the people with their butts in the chair can follow you if you’re reading too fast. (And you are.)
  2. When you’re told you MUST repeat questions from the audience, that’s true. Because Here’s what it sounds like if you don’t:
    Speaker: And that sums up my list of sekrit tips for getting published. Any questions?
    Question Asker:



    Speaker: Oh, good question! I can’t believe I forgot to mention that. Yes.

  3. The more conversational you sound, the more interesting you sound.
  4. Do not approach a workshop as nothing more than an opportunity to pitch your books. Really. Don’t. Even if you’re not a self-centered b*tch, you’ll sound like one.
  5. If you’re on a panel and you’re sitting in front of a mike, be aware that all the little noises you make will be on the tape. Like, huh, tsk, yeah. It’s really really distracting.
  6. If there is dead air during your workshop, if you can, preface that with an explanation of why things are so silent. Or explain what’s happening.
  7. The workshops I’ve enjoyed most so far are the ones where the speaker(s) sound the most interested in genuinely communicating what they know or have learned. (See previous point about people who are just trying to sell their books…)