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:
- Discover your bumper sticker.
- Leverage your forward momentum.
- Know how to close the loop.
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:
- It eliminates the shaky start.
- It raises your authenticity.
- It slows your rate of speech.
- 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.
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.
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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