A Novel Way of Speaking: Just For Writers by guest @PaulGeigerSpeak

Most authors will admit they write a lot better than they speak. (I happen to write the same way I speak – but I’m only developing one character here.)

Most people, in general, don’t even like the sound of their own voice. Couple that with a little nervousness when being interviewed about your book and you’re in for a bumpy and unpredictable ride.

Any time you let the word out that you’ve got a big promotional opportunity, you will inevitably receive a lot of well-intentioned advice:

  • “Be yourself.”
  • “Just speak the way you write. You’ll be great!”
  • “Show them how smart you are.”
  • “Take a deep breath and go for it.”

Your friends and family mean well but, ultimately, you’re still left with no answers. The better action plan for how to talk about your book has only three parts:

  1. Discover your bumper sticker.
  2. Leverage your forward momentum.
  3. Know how to close the loop.

Let’s unpack.

A Novel Way of Speaking: Just For Writers by Guest @PaulGeigerSpeak via @BadRedheadMedia and @NaNoProMo #NaNoProMo #Success #Writing

Discover Your Bumper Sticker

Discovering your bumper sticker requires some discipline. Your bumper sticker is the overarching emotional theme. It is not the emotion of the main character or of the author who toiled over the book for years. It describes what the reader will feel from your book.

A bumper sticker is extremely short and concise; it may not even be, God forbid, a complete sentence. The important thing is that it has resonance – for you.

A statement that resonates with you will have a very good chance of resonating with your listeners. Remember, they are not your readers in this forum. They will be hearing and processing in a different way from the way they process when they read. This is true for all of us. Use this knowledge to your advantage.

For example, your hypothetical novel, Perfect Honeymoon, might use the bumper sticker “nine days of hell,” or “Don’t let this happen to you.” A good bumper sticker will always beg the question: how, what, or why? It immediately engages the listeners’ curiosity.

Follow up this bold statement with three reasons that support it. You have now fueled your listeners’ anticipation by giving them a strong framework. It is a vertical structure that allows you to change levels as you connect all of the dots throughout the interview. Some aspect of this structure will be the answer to any question that gets thrown at you.

Leverage Your Forward Momentum

Practice delivering your bumper sticker by leveraging your forward momentum. You want to sound like you know where you’re going and you’re willing to take your listeners with you.

You will need to access deliberate breathing and coordinated gesturing. These are easy concepts to understand; the difficulty is in executing them consistently. You have to practice speaking out loud. Don’t just count on being creative in the moment. You will need a bit of that impromptu magic, but your preparation will be your lifeline.

Do this: Take a deep breath.

Hold that breath; then speak your bumper sticker out loud as you exhale.

All speech is on an exhalation of air. Let it flow. Repeat this several times as you notice the connection to your body and your breath.

When done deliberately, you will also feel the impulse to gesture as you speak. Allow your hands to move in a smooth, full expression. You are now breathing deliberately and coordinating your gestures. This may feel strange at first but that feeling will soon be replaced with the sensation of speech as a full-body expression.

This full-body approach to speaking accomplishes several things:

  1. It eliminates the shaky start.
  2. It raises your authenticity.
  3. It slows your rate of speech.
  4. It allows you to forge ahead with purpose.

These steps will help you speak with a sense of forward momentum. This is vitally important when speaking on the phone. Breathe and gesture as if the person you’re speaking to is right in the room. Moving around the room while you’re talking will also project energy and a commitment to your spoken ideas.

Know How to Close the Loop

Knowing how to close the loop serves several purposes: it reinforces your main takeaways, signals your interviewer that you are completing a thought, and brings your listeners back to where you started.

You will always lead with your strong vertical framework. When wrapping up a response, return to your bumper sticker or one of your supportive reasons and show its relevance to the question.

Another effective loop closer is paraphrasing the question as a statement. Make sure you slow down at the end of your final sentence. A good interviewer will know by your phrasing and rate of speech that you are closing the loop. This will be the signal that they should get ready to respond. Following these steps will create the conversational rhythm that makes an interview flow.

Notice that being a more effective speaker has nothing to do with using better articulation. Bumper stickers, forward momentum and closing the loop should be your focus as you prep for the big interview.

Insider tip: A little third-party validation doesn’t hurt either. Try starting some of your responses with: “My readers tell me that…” or “I’ve heard it’s…” This is an old sales trick that gives listeners the space they need to take the ride with you.

Most of your promo opportunities will not be on camera. That’s a topic for a whole different blog. It is the quality of your delivery that will turn listeners into readers. Hook them with your clarity and authentic sense of purpose.

Good luck in finding your voice. As a writer, you know it’s a big deal.



Paul is giving away a one-on-one speaking consultation (value: $250)!

This is a fabulous opportunity, writer friends.

A Novel Way of Speaking: Just For Writers by Guest @PaulGeigerSpeak via @BadRedheadMedia and @NaNoProMo #NaNoProMo #Success #Writing

Want to win this giveaway? Simply leave a comment WHY below!

All comments must be left prior to midnight on Monday, May 6th, 2019 in order to be eligible to win. Winners for the week announced on Tuesday, May 7.

Good luck!

Paul Geiger

Paul Geiger, author

Better Business Speech by Paul GeigerPaul Geiger is currently a Senior Associate Instructor at New York Speech Coaching in New York City. He specializes in effective business communications.

Paul has enjoyed a parallel career as a voice artist and as a performer. His radio and television voiceover clients include Mazda, Capital One and America Online. Paul’s live and on-camera performances have promoted such companies as Platinum Technologies, Coldwell Banker and Bacardi International.

Purchase his book Better Business Speech on Amazon here.


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Get On That, Would Ya?


  1. D.B. Moone on May 2, 2019 at 7:41 am


    Your article is as good, if not better because there is no quiz than Public Speaking 101! I have to admit that when I read, “Most authors will admit they write a lot better than they speak.” I not only agree, but I immediately thought of “Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.” When I saw the book, I did not hesitate to buy the book as the title spoke to me. I have always and forever known and admitted that I write better than I talk.

    That said, your advice for getting through interviews is worth its weight in gold. My thought is few have heard of or considered using Bumper Stickers. I’ve never been familiar with using Bumper Stickers until I read your posting, but what an essential concept. I am familiar with breathing, but I have never considered breathing deliberately and coordinating gestures, or moving around.

    My favorite take away from your posting is the “Knowing how to close the loop.” While the interviewer has this expertise, the interviewee does not. Your guidance here will benefit all who read how to close the loop.

    Thank you for participating in #NaNoProMo and imparting your knowledge with the participants.


  2. Rachael on May 2, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Oh this is such helpful advice! Thank you. I always sort of default to “it’s a hamlet prequel set partly in purgatory” and get nervous talking about my work beyond that. It’s definitely something I should work on!

  3. Raiscara Avalon on May 2, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Interesting post. Speaking is definitely not my strong suit, though I seem to do okay most of the time. Wouldn’t mind winning this one either, so I can learn more about speaking and how to do it well.

  4. Lexi on May 2, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    Interesting. Now I LOVE public speaking but I do find it very different between my corporate day job and my writer life. I have no idea what my writer bumper sticker is. Hmmmmmmmmm tricky

  5. Dana Lemaster on May 2, 2019 at 7:02 pm


    This is such a great approach to public speaking, breaking it down into manageable sections and then showing how to combine them for an effective statement, i’ll definitely buy your book and would love to be able to work with you one-on-one. It’s been a long struggle for me to be heard in public at all, much less deliver a speech.

    For years, I dreaded public gatherings, because people could never hear me when I spoke in a group. Whenever possible, I delegated public speaking to others. It was always an exercise in frustration, with people yelling, “We can’t hear you.”

    I finally went to an ENT, on the off-chance there was a physical problem. It turned out my vocal folds didn’t meet. I went through an extensive voice physical therapy to help compensate. The voice therapists said I had a good vocal range (news to me!) and suggested I study singing after finishing therapy. I’ve done that for the last seven years.

    Singing helps with tone and volume, but public speaking is a hurdle I’ve yet to cross. I’m writing my first novel, so it’s definitely in my future. Working with you would be helpful in reaching that goal, However, I think this article and your book will also be extremely important. I’m so grateful to you for writing both.

    Dana Lemaster

  6. Mariyam Hasnain on May 3, 2019 at 1:48 am

    Very helpful article. I’m always afraid of public speaking. Yes, I can write but when it comes to speaking it give me jitters, voice chokes in my throat. I just can’t imagine everybody looking at me and just at me, LOL. I think this consultation would help me tackle the fear of public speaking.

  7. Linda Moran on May 3, 2019 at 6:25 am

    Wow – this is fabulous! I have my bumper sticker for me as an artist, but not as a writer. Artist: An Ancient Art Made Modern. Writer:? Am I non-fiction or fiction? Currently non-fiction, and it looks like I might stay there, but over a bunch of topics…Lots to think about here. I’m sorta used to public speaking – nearly 40 years as a teacher – and I’ve done some theater, but I want to eliminate the nervousness, the rapidity of speech (trying to fill a 45-minute class with as much information from the kids and then from me, and the breathing. I will be referring to this post more often.

  8. McKenna on May 4, 2019 at 7:38 am

    I love the concept of Bumper Stickers–kind of like the elevator pitch, but for interviews and public speaking instead! I came into this port thinking with my background as a former actress, there might not be much here for me to learn, but I was wrong. One skill set doesn’t necessarily translate to another. Really strong points made here, and some excellent tools I’ll be taking with me. Thanks!

  9. Daniella Shepard on May 6, 2019 at 6:47 am

    Thanks Paul. Some great advice. I tend to talk really fast, working on that one. I like the closing the loop idea.

    In addition I also talk with my hands (I look like I am trying to flag down a 747). Still haven’t figured out how to break myself of that one.


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