I don’t usually make new year’s resolutions, but as 2018 began, something niggled at me. I was making headway in my dream career as a writer, but I knew I needed to start talking confidently in public about my own work.
While I’m happy talking at meetings and networking events about the work I do for clients (mainly because that’s not really about me), whenever conversations turn to my personal writing projects I’m usually quick to shift the focus away. “Oh, that’s enough about me…so what have you been up to?”
It’s all a bit inconvenient really, when I’m planning to publish three very different books this year, ones I’ve worked long and hard on completing. I decided it would be quite nice if I could sell a few copies, so I’ve asked my web design company to create a dedicated ‘Books’ page on my site. The logical next step is...actually telling people what these books are about!
With the fantastic Essex Book Festival running throughout March every year, there are always more than a few local opportunities to grab a mic and wax lyrical about whatever you happen to be writing about, in front of a real live audience.
This year I finally decided to be brave and take one, volunteering to do a ten-minute writers’ café read from ‘Procrastinations’, my soon-to-be-published book of personal blog posts.
The date (Monday 26th March) was set. Then, I received another email from the event organiser, asking if I’d be willing to come and do a three-minute speed presentation on the evening of International Women’s Day, about anything I liked.
The event in question had sold out almost immediately, there were some amazing speakers already booked, there was a lot of local publicity surrounding it, and the whole prospect terrified me to my very core.
Remembering my goal to talk publicly about my work wherever possible, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and said yes, I’d be happy to do it.
As the event was in honour of International Women’s Day, I decided I’d talk about a different book; a work in progress called ‘I’d Rather Get a Cat and Save the Planet: Conversations with Child-Free Women’.
I centred my speech around the idea of celebrating Non-Mother’s Day, in (believe it or not) a light-hearted way that also covered some of the comments women who have chosen not to be mothers tend to hear on a regular basis. Think “don’t worry, there’s still time/oh, it’s such a shame/so who’s going to wipe your bum when you get old, then?”
Planning the speech took some doing. You can’t fit very much into three minutes, and everything I wanted to say took some background explanation. I wanted to describe the reason for writing my book and how it came into being, but also to highlight some of the amazing stories I’d been told by the child-free women I spoke with during the course of my research. All in just 180 seconds.
Once I’d finally arrived at my ideal three minutes, I practised, and practised, and practised again, timing myself every time. Then, when the event itself came round, I approached the stage and looked out into the sea of faces, shaking with nerves.
I’d rehearsed the speech so often that the words fell automatically from my lips once I started (if you’re planning a speech anytime soon, the trick is to memorise your opening line), and as I made my first attempt at a humorous comment, people actually laughed.
Better still, when I dared to glance at the audience again I could see heads nodding fervently as I spoke, and when I finished I actually drew a small crowd, who wanted to know more about my book and when it would be available.
It all felt amazing, and the great thing was that the process of writing and making that speech had compelled me to achieve exactly what I’d hoped: talking clearly and confidently about my personal writing work.
How to talk about something you love – what I learned:
- Try to refine your subject into a simple paragraph (whether you have a time limit or not!)
- Make it personal and relatable. Most people love a good story, especially one told with enthusiasm.
- Don’t worry about whether everybody will instantly ‘get’ what you say. Some people will, and some probably won’t. Just concentrate on what makes sense to you.
- If you’re making a speech, practise! Memorise your opening line, and the rest will flow.
Spring is another great time for fresh resolutions! If you’ve always wanted to start a blog, write a book or even compose a speech…what’s stopping you? And if you need any help, you know where I am.
I'm a friendly and professional writer, reviewer and editor who works with warmth, humour and flexibility.
Where's the value in empty business gurus?Read more
It's Universal Letter Writing Week - how will you celebrate?Read more
Five easy resolutions to help your freelancing career thrive in 2019 - promise!Read more
Simple tips to help you breeze through any interview scenario.Read more
How to become every freelancer's favourite client!Read more
Know what you're good at, and rejection won't seem so bad!Read more
How setting a speaking challenge forced me to talk confidently about the work I love.Read more
Finding the 'what's', 'whys' and 'hows' of your business will help people connect with you.Read more
It takes time to craft compelling
November means #NaNoWriMo - so whatever you're working on, it's time to get it done!Read more
Ironically, it's when you're writing about yourself that you will sound least like you. Hiring a writer to do it for you can bring a whole host of benefits.Read more
Writing books is big business - or at least it can be, if you get it right. For starters, this means not rushing the process!Read more
Headlines are always difficult to write, so here's an easy way to craft something original for your personal and professional profiles.Read more
There's a lot of vague career advice out there, so if you're looking for insight that goes beyond "be yourself and follow your passion" you may have to leap before you look!Read more
Standing up and presenting to a group of people is something that strikes fear into the hearts of even the most confident people - so if you're an introvert like me, it can really be the stuff of nightmares! Here's how I tackle my nerves head-on, with some careful preparation and relatable content.Read more
Creating a schedule can be a difficult task, especially when you're planning for work you're not being paid for - or that nobody is expecting! Here's how to get started on crafting a time plan that will work for you.Read more
Did you know that so-called 'job-hopping' can be an asset to your career search? Whether you prefer stability or excitement in your career, planning your next move is all about packaging your skills and making the right kind of approach.Read more
Are you reading this over coffee, or maybe as you wait for a late train? Blogging for business is a handy way to keep in regular contact with your followers and show them the human side of your company, but it can be difficult to keep it going once you've started. It's worth it, though - so here are a few tips to keep your blog posts consistent and entertaining.Read more
Writing a CV is tough enough when you've got years of experience under your belt, but when you're just leaving education it often feels like you haven't got anything to shout about. Here's how to write a first CV that will stand out from all those bland lists of education dates and shop jobs!Read more
There's a new trend sweeping Silicon Valley - giving honest and direct feedback to your colleagues. Before you go rushing in, focus your message by writing it down first...your colleagues and your career will thank you for it!Read more
All those celebrated business gurus had to start somewhere...and the most successful ones know how to tell their stories in a relatable way that inspires others to act on their dreams and ideas. By writing a business book, you can do just that yourself!Read more
Writing a recruitment ad is often a rushed activity, with the words used ones you've read many times before ("dynamic" anyone?) Here's how the Banks children managed to recruit their ideal candidate - Mary Poppins! - by using clear and creative words that stood out.Read more
'Greatest Hits' countdowns are rife at this time of year - so now, here's one featuring the best CV advice. This list will give you the ultimate steer if you're looking to get your CV on track for the new year job hunt. Wishing you a very happy 2017!Read more
If you're stuck in a job you don't particularly like, mindlessly searching job boards for something else, it can be hard to dredge up any enthusiasm to make a change. But that little bit of rest time between Christmas and a brand new year beginning is perfect for considering exactly what you want, and how to take the very first step towards making 2017 your happy work year!Read more
Looking for ways to sound consistent and authentic in your written communications? Here are a few tried, tested and original ways to do just that.Read more
Are your online profiles a bit lacklustre? Don't waste a perfect opportunity to speak directly to the boss or partner of your dreams - use the power of personal copywriting to describe what makes you, you - and get ready to reap the rewards!Read more
Great speeches vary in tone and content, but they all consider the same elements - who they're for, what they're about and why they're being heard. Here's how to plan yours effectively, so you can conquer any nerves and make your speech memorable for all the right reasons!Read more