I have to say it, libraries are some of my favorite places. They do so much good for the community and all for free to little cost to that community. So I’m so happy when I get invited to do an event there. I just had a talking gig with the St. Clair library and it was my best event yet. I got to meet some local writers and readers and had just the best time. So let’s talk about talks.
I’ve been asked how I get them, and hooking up with the event coordinator of local libraries is my first recommendation. I will also say that you will probably have to do a number of free talks before you get offered the paid gigs. Do not think yourself above these. It’s getting your name out into the community and introducing you to readers. Often devoted readers if they use their library regularly and attend their events. And you don’t have to pay for the space or venue to sell your books, so free talks are a great opportunity for you. All you need are the books and a quick set up, which we’ve talked about.
After some experience and good word about the great talks you give, you may be offered an honorarium for speaking. This is a fee they pay you for your time and expertise. But like I said, don’t expect this for your first gig. Build up your skills and reputation first.
Other places to give speaking engagements include conventions and conferences. But you may need a CV or in with a person first. You can do this by networking and building up your expertise on a subject. If you are knowledgeable on a certain topic or area of study, you will be more appealing as a speaker. Build your experience, then reach out for more gigs.
You never know where the next opportunity will come from, so always do your best and be professional in every interaction. Networking has really helped me get my foot beyond the door when it comes to these opportunities. And my love of teaching and working with new writers. It shows in my talks as does me trying my best just to be genuine and helpful. I don’t go in thinking I’m here to lecture these people. No one likes a lecture, and I don’t aim to be an authority figure.
Now some tips for anxiety, which is the second biggest question I get about getting talks. What do you do when you have anxiety? First of all, people are more understanding and kind then we give them credit for. They know and expect you to be nervous. And they forgive you and give you a lot of grace for being nervous. My voice wavers even at times when I get flustered. People smile and encourage me to go on. I’ve even been told it’s cute! And then I get my bearings and power through. And because I focus on being personable, joking around and being relatable while I give out great information, I get told I give awesome talks! Shaky voice and all! So you can do it.
My biggest tip is to control your breathing. Slowing your breathing literally slows your heart rate and the affects of adrenaline when you are nervous or panicky. So breathe in to the count of 4, hold it for 7, and breathe out to the count of 8 a few times before you begin. Speak slowly and clearly. And just keep breathing deeply. Also have a drink with you. Nerves makes your mouth go really dry and you are trying to talk the whole time with no saliva. Drinks help more than you realize.
So, do not be afraid to sign up for a talk even if you feel nervous about public speaking. Practice the speech out loud at home, and you will do great! I had the best time ever at my last event. It was at the St. Clair Library near my hometown. Here’s some pics from the event and as always, keep writing!