Public Speaking and Writing: The Same Process

I’ve crashed and burned in a few speaking engagements. If you think about it, the real fear of public speaking is not that you are terrified of going in front of thirty people or even three hundred. The true fear is if you fail in front of everyone. When that happens, you have no place to hide.

Should being an author have the same kind of impact? There are authors who will not stand in front of an audience, fearing that the speech will not be entertaining. Nevertheless, those same authors will publish a book with minimum work and pray that the entire world will take notice. Then what happens? The author makes a fool of themselves, in the same way as if they were standing right in front of that person.

When you write for a mass audience, you have even more pressure than if you spoke in front of that audience. At least if you were face-to-face, you could explain yourself. When writing a book, you do not have that luxury.

Here is a two-for-one blog: Public Speaking and Writing Tips 

Know what you are talking about:

Public Speaking: You should choose a topic that you know plenty about and believe in with the utmost conviction. Your passion for this topic will shine through and you will have unshakable confidence.

Writing: Choose a genre and storyline that you know plenty about and believe in with the utmost conviction. Or, choose a storyline that will force you to do massive research. Either way, your passion for this book will shine through and you will have unshakable confidence.

Learn, improve, and learn some more.

Public Speaking: Talk in front of a mirror. Watch your hand and eye movements. Notice the self-assurance your stance portrays. Attend a networking meeting where you can stand up and speak for thirty seconds. Watch closely others who stand in front of an audience. One of the best examples is a pastor/priest. Any chance that you have to hear someone speak, attend. Then get in front of people and keep practicing.

Writing: Improve your craft by learning from others that have succeeded. Notice your self-assurance as you read, write, read, write, and read some more. Attend writing conferences or networking meetings. Get up and tell everyone you are an author. Use social media to market and hire a company that will build your brand. Learn about the publishing industry and listen to those who have been doing it for years.

Know your audience.

Public Speaking: Be the first person at your own speaking engagement. As others arrive, shake their hands, introduce yourself, and discover their needs. The more people that feel comfortable with you, the more you will feel comfortable speaking in front of them.

Writing: Understand your target audience. If you could write for one person, what would they look like? What are their biggest needs? Why are they reading your words? How are you entertaining them? The more you know about your audience, the better chance you have to write something they would like to read.

Enhance your talents with ancillary items.

Public Speaking: Take the pressure off yourself. If possible, use a slide show or power point presentation. This will help you remember everything you want to talk about and keep the audience entertained. Make sure you know how the microphone works, along with your power point. Bring an assistant to help.

Writing: Add T-shirts and posters for each book. Have a professional marketing company put together a book trailer. Choose songs from local bands that relate to your book. Create a themed CD. (With the bands permission of course.) The more you add to your book, the more sales you can bring in.

Keep your emotions stable.

Public Speaking: Never, ever start off a speaking engagement by telling your audience that you are new to public speaking and still working on getting better. You will lose the audience in the first ten seconds. Try to get everyone clapping right away. “Let’s give a big round applause for today’s sponsor, Lamarque Elementary School!” If you know your audience from greeting them at the beginning, then you should know a few names. Mention them and keep the crowd applauding. Now that everyone is on your side, flick on the power point, smile, and keep the pace moving.

Writing: Never, ever tell a publisher or literary agent that you are a new author and do not know what you are doing. (If that’s true, you shouldn’t be talking to them just yet.) You have about ten seconds to impress a publisher or literary agent; starting off with your weaknesses will not gain their attention. Write your books with a powerful first line, which will intrigue your audience. Follow that up with another great line. Forget about over describing, or long winded flashbacks. Just tell the story. Keep the pace moving and your audience will be glued.

Envision yourself doing a terrific job.

Public Speaking: Think about how you are standing up in front of that audience, speaking with confidence, smiling, taking a breath between each sentence, emphasizing your most important issues. Imagine that your speaking engagement came off with great success, leaving the audience wanting more.

Writing: Think about the day when you are declared a bestseller. You have a good size following, you are writing with confidence, smiling at your book signings, shrugging off the bad and magnetizing the good. Your books are making an impact on others. Success has always been in your grasp. After each novel, your audience is begging for more.

Remember that everyone is on your side.

Public Speaking: The audience wants you to succeed. They are here, because they have confidence in your abilities. No one attends a speaking engagement and says, “This will probably stink.” Your audience will cheer you on, if you are professional, knowledgeable, and doing your best.

Writing: When someone buys your book, they are confident that you will entertain them. No one purchases a novel and says, “This will probably stink.” Your audience will be devoted if you are professional, knowledgeable, and doing your best.  

Sometimes, things won’t go right.

Public Speaking: If you mess up, don’t apologize. Correct yourself and move forward. The audience knows it was a mistake and will not care, just so long as you do not drag them down by continuing to make excuses. Your slide show may not work. More forward. Your microphone may scream at the sound of your voice. Don’t use it. Walk out into the audience and speak loud so everyone can hear you. Deal with adversity, rather than making excuses.

Writing: Someone will reject you. That’s okay, because you are aware that you cannot please the entire world at the same time. If you made a mistake in writing, learn from it and move forward. If someone in the publishing industry treats you badly, shrug if off. The more you talk about a problem, the better chance others will think that YOU are the problem. Being a career author is a tough challenge. There will be roadblocks, setbacks, and enormous delays. Deal with adversity, rather than making excuses.


 Public Speaking: Do not go on rants, just deliver the information. You are prepared, because you believe in it with all your heart and soul. Let that come across in your message. Understand your weaknesses and improve. Focus on the most important items, rather than presenting broad implications, hoping that your words will stick.

Writing: Do not use your gift to go on rants in your books or post something hostile about someone else on Facebook. (EXCEPTION: Romance authors get a free pass.) Focus on improving your gift each day. Be prepared to write a bestseller, by learning what a bestseller looks like. Understand your weaknesses and improve some more. Focus on the most important items you need to accomplish today, rather than trying to do everything at once and getting nothing done. Do not write one single sentence in your book, that does not have some sort of impact on your story.

Experience = Greatness 

Public Speaking: Get in front of people as much as possible. If you crash and burn, understand why that happened. Maybe you lost your focus? Maybe you weren’t as prepared as you should have been? Maybe you were in front of the wrong type of audience? By understanding what goes wrong, you certainly can make it right the next time. If you fail, promise yourself that you will do everything possible so it will not happen again.

Writing: Write as many books as possible. When you are finished, write some more. The more you read and write, the better chance you have to use that experience to succeed. If you are rejected, try to figure out why? Was your book really your very best effort? Could you have done better? Maybe you should have been more prepared before showing your book to a literary agent. Maybe you queried the wrong type of publisher? Maybe you are trying to sell your book to the wrong target audience? By understanding what you have done wrong, you certainly can make it right for the next book. If you fail, promise yourself that you will do everything possible so it will not happen again.     

Public speaking and writing books has not changed in eighty years. Yes, there are more ways to give a presentation. Yes, books come in all kinds of different packages.

Nevertheless, the craft of public speaking starts well before you stand up in front of that audience. The craft of writing starts well before you publish that book.                                                        

A responsible public speaker will make sure the message is delivered in the most entertaining and professional way possible. 

A responsible author will not publish a book, unless it is delivered in the most entertaining and professional way possible.

 Ron Knight  

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  1. Hi, Ron:

    Great post on public speaking. I trained for eight years with toastmasters and it paid off in so many ways. I started out from ground zero, I was shaky, nervous, umming and ahhing all the way through, and fear of the audience in spades (you’re right it’s fear of failure), but with the nurturing support of toastmasters I now love to do public speaking.

    Very good tips and suggestions. Dead on analogies with writing. Love it.