PUBLIC SPEAKING FOR BRANDING: IV A Post-Mortem

This is the fourth blog in a series addressing an author’s travel and public speaking engagements [see Effective Materials for Public Speaking, All the World’s a Stage, and Public Speaking to Enhance Branding III].  

In September, I had the opportunity to make a promotional road trip to my home town of Portland, Oregon. There I attended the 50th reunion of my high school graduating class and introduced myself to several audiences via speaking engagements at creative writing classes in my old high school and a combined meeting of American Association of University Women book clubs in Lake Oswego. How did my planning for Public Speaking engagements mesh with the actual experiences? Were my own preparations adequate? What were the final results?

TRAVEL
~ I found that shipping books and marketing materials in advance really proved useful. Not only was I assured they had arrived safely, but once I had completed my appearances, I was able to pack the remaining items into the spacious luggage I had taken for that purpose.

~ During my research for this trip and future ones, I opted to join an international hotel group that awards points for each stay. The one I chose provided: Transport to area restaurants and businesses; buffet breakfasts which provided quality nourishment that lasted most of the day and permitted taking food back to one’s room; and, there was also a 25% discount for all dinners, including those for which I hosted guests.

~ Since the penalty for altering flights was the same as emergency rescheduling, I did not purchase airline tickets that allowed changes to be made…but I would have done so if my itinerary had been more complex.

~ With today’s complex public safety rules, I had to carry multiple small containers of toiletries, snacks, and food supplements, which I divided between carry-on and checked baggage. And, in case my checked bag failed to arrive, my carry-on pieces included: clothing, accessories, and necessary paperwork for public appearances.

~ Because I was having dinner with a friend [and former theatre director] shortly after my arrival, I was not able to schedule an initial day without activity. But the following day I enjoyed a delicious lunch at the O`hana Hawaiian Café and a memorable tour of the city with my editor, while moving from a hotel near the airport to one near my engagements.

~ I was truly grateful to be able to avoid renting a car. Although I tried using share-ride transportation, I found it too awkward to schedule repeat transport with drivers I liked, and the cost was not substantially less than a highly rated traditional cab company.

~ Financially, I travelled with ample cash for tipping those who rendered excellent service. As I encouraged readers to purchase books through their favorite local stores or on-line, I made only a couple of cash sales, even though I was capable of taking credit card payments.

PUBLICITY AND MARKETING
~ Since my events were not open to the general public, there was no reason to generate Media Releases.

~ I did add a news page to my author website and referenced my travel on Facebook.

~ At the reunion, I followed the organizer’s suggestion and served Hawaiian macadamia nut candy and discussed the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian mystery series.

~ I will soon post a picture with my editor taken at a book club meeting I addressed.

APPEARANCE
~ I followed my own advice regarding maximizing the expression of one’s personality and profession. Because my writing focusses on Hawai`i, I wore tropical print jackets and a large name badge throughout my trip—with ample business cards at the ready. I’m happy to report that this facilitated my conversing with numerous people I would not have otherwise met!

 ~ One of the greatest impacts on selecting appropriate clothing for the eight days was the weather, since the Northwest was becoming colder and wetter than in my home of Tucson, Arizona. Despite necessary increases in the number of items I carried, my planning for multiple events proved to be appropriate.

~ Except for when my editor joined me in speaking to the book club, I was the sole presenter and did not need to coordinate my attire with that of other speakers.

~ In addition to my tropical-themed wardrobe, I accessorized with a necklace of my design and the name badge that features my personal logo. I also wore a realistic appearing artificial orchid in my hair, which I wore pinned to one side and heavily sprayed to remain in place for several hours. 

 SETTING THE STAGE
~ While it was not appropriate to hang a banner from podiums, my colorful attire proclaimed my personal style and the nature of my writing.

~ I positioned my presentation outline, large watch, and water appropriately.

~ I set up a colorful display with marketing materials, books, and information request sheets. These items were placed within clear acrylic stands on a multi-level tablescape covered with purple and gold tablecloths, and a scattering of shell leis and tropical flowers.

BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER PERFORMANCES
~ I provided event organizers with my bio and a short introduction in advance of each event.

~ Since the venues at which I spoke were small, I did not need overhead projections or a sound system. I merely arrived with a spiral bound binder with my presentation, potential readings, and handouts. [I also carried notes for unexpected issues that might arise, and backup electronic files.]

~ Merely walking through cold air provided physical warmups; I was limited in my ability to warm up vocally.

~ By using an annotated outline rather than scripted presentation, I was able to make periodic eye contact with my audience…Letting attendees feel I cared about them individually.

~ Despite allergies affecting my breathing, my voice was strong enough for the demands of my public speaking. Having trained for the theatre since childhood, I am fortunate to have a skill set that is compatible with vocal projection for one to two hours! One of my favorite activities was sharing the voices of characters from Prospect for Murder [available as an audio book], Murder on Mokulua Drive and the forthcoming Murders of Conveyance.

~ While I had practiced reading from my annotated outline as well as the handout I had prepared, the free-flowing dialogue that developed in more than one presentation precluded adhering to a strict time table. My primary challenge was ensuring I had covered each of my main points before the conclusion. Fortunately, with a large watch positioned beside my presentation material, I was able to pace myself…allowing appropriate time for Q&A to maximize audience interaction.

 ~ I concluded each presentation by holding up a pin with a single inspiring word…IMAGINE!

~ I carried Thank You cards and gifts of Hawaiian candy to maximize each event’s long-term branding value.

Let me close my report on employing public speaking as a marketing tool by encouraging you to consider venues and events in which you can express yourself personally, as well as professionally. I had a wonderful time in my recent journey to the city of my youth. I saw friends and acquaintances with whom I have had little contact for decades and reaffirmed my love for the work I do. If you decide to embark on promotional road trips, I urge you to choose your trips carefully, plan each aspect of your journey as much as you can…and have a wonderful time at each juncture of your experience! You never know what you’ll encounter, or what may emerge from such explorations. I’m delighted to report that I may be appearing at an author night in Hawai`i in 2019…

For more ideas to maximize being memorable, see Wearing your Brand at my marketing website.

Wishing you the best,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, author, narrator, and public speaker

Public Speaking II

All the World’s a Stage
The success of any branding program rests on harmonizing the look, sound, and feel of all of its elements!  That includes the setting in which an author appears. And while you may not be able to control every aspect of the physical environment of your presentations, you can enhance the positive impact of some aspects to boost the effectiveness of your overall book marketing program.

The Venue
If you have never spoken at the venue, you’ll be relying on the event’s organizers to provide the correct information regarding lighting, voice amplification, and projection of materials you’ll utilize to highlight your speaking points. In addition, they’ll be scheduling the podium, table, and/or chair from which you’ll speak.

If possible, visit the venue in advance of the event. While this may be easy in your home town, it can be impossible when you’re working in another city [let alone country]. Therefore, it’s good to arrive a day in advance of your presentation. If you’re lucky, you will be delivering your remarks at the hotel in which you are staying.  As this is seldom the case, travel with the basics you require to be effective.

From a Stage or…
Depending on your height and weight, and position in relation to the audience, you may need to modify your hair, clothing, shoes, and/or accessories to maximize your facial and overall visibility. Speaking engagements often occur in rooms with a stage that is at least a step above the floor on which the audience is seated. This enhances your visibility as a speaker, but it means you must look good from the top of your head to the bottoms of your shoes. And although many stages are carpeted, older wooden or tiled stages may have uneven surfaces, for which you will require sturdy and slip-resistant footwear.

Solo Performance
Sole presenters in a public venue usually have access to a podium. Free-standing or table top, it should offer sides that mask your script, notes, watch, and other items you may need to reference. Unless a free-standing podium is constructed of a tubular frame, it is probable that you’ll be visible only from your chest up. That gives you more flexibility in your stance and movement of your feet. If the podium is comprised of a hollow frame, or positioned on top of a table that has no tablecloth, you will not have that luxury.

Whispers to Screams
The quality of your natural speaking voice can be either an asset or detriment in public speaking. Depending on your audience, even the strongest of voices expressed in the wrong tonal range can be hard for some listeners to hear properly. Many podiums are set up with a microphone fixed in position. If you learn you’ll be using a hand-held mic, you may want to obtain a small stand in order to free your hands for gesturing, pointing to overhead projections, etc. Having said this, I must note some presenters like to speak off the cuff rather from written material and prefer a hand-held or wireless mic so they can roam freely—sometimes even moving within their audience.

Be aware that the effectiveness of the microphone you use [especially lavaliere or headsets] can depend on your neckline, arrangement of hair, and any chain or necklace you wear. Also consider that dangling earrings and loose watches or bracelets can interfere with sound projection.

Having a strong voice may lessen the need to provide your own electronic equipment. However, if you are embarking on a lengthy tour, you might consider acquiring sound equipment that can make you more independent of the facilities in which you appear—if it is compatible with the speakers to which your equipment will be connected. In making such a decision, you will want to seek the input of an electronics specialist.

Inviting Displays
Will you be able to set up a display that greets and enlivens your audience? At the minimum, you should be able to drape a banner over the front of a podium [using double sided tape, if nothing else]. I carry the banner from the release of Prospect for Murder, first of the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian mysteries. I also travel with varied sizes of boxes on which I can place color-coordinated tablecloths to create heightened surfaces for displaying signage, products, and handouts. And I carry stands of varying proportions to maximize visibility across a room. Do be cautious about displaying valuable items which could disappear…

Enlargements of colorful book covers, pictures of previous appearances, and banners with both your image and the works you’re presenting make a wonderful background for highlighting sales sheets, future project descriptions, and business cards. Since Murder on Mokulua Drive has an embossed jacket front, I present it on a stand, as well as on the table top to invite people to pick it up.  If there is a theme to your work, you can add decorative items that reinforce that reference. As most of my work centers on Hawai`i, I display a shell lei or two, a golden fish business card holder, and tablecloths that harmonize with my book cover colors.

Ensuring You have What You Need
If you’re speaking in your home town and have checked out the venue, you’ll know what you need to carry with you. The one thing that may affect your preparations is a change in the size of your audience, thereby impacting the number of books and handouts required. When traveling to a long-distance destination, you may be able to send a box ahead to a friend, colleague, or the hotel in which you will be staying. Regardless of whether that is an option, strategize the items that you should carry personally, rather than check into a luggage compartment.

I recall my gratitude for arriving in Hilo (after flying back from the U.S. mainland) two days in advance of a performance of Scottish Highland Dancing, since my costumes remained in Honolulu by mistake. I now keep the following items with me personally when traveling to author appearances: memory sticks and a master copy of materials needed for display and distribution; one copy of pertinent books and project samples; one small tablecloth and a shell lei to personalize a display; one copy of a short biography; two 3 x 5 inch cards with an introduction of me and my presentation; a brass name badge and any pertinent professional badges; a beautiful artificial orchid for my hair; and, one elegant jacket to dress up even an emergency wardrobe purchase if my luggage does not arrive with me!

This is the second of three discussions of Public Speaking Engagements.My next blog will address the ways in which public speaking engagements can enhance your branding as an author, and will be featured at Hometown Reads .

Wishing you the best in your adventures as an author or other creative professional,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, wordsmith and design consultant

Tips on research, composition, and marketing your work are available at Imaginingswordpower.com.

To learn more about my projects, please visit my author website at
JeanneBurrows-Johnson.com.

 

 

 

A Birthday Review

In checking the date of my last blog, I realize how long it’s been since my last one. With all that’s taken place in the last couple of years, the conclusion of 2017 and the arrival of 2018 inspired me to examine the process that brought me to my recent birthday. 

Birthday Milestones
Have you found that for most people, birthdays are either super important, or nothing at all?  I guess I fall into the latter category…with a few exceptions.  At age eight, my grandmother baked a cake with a beautiful doll embedded in the center.  At 21, I was treated to gourmet French cuisine by a young man on a limited budget. I was surprised on my fiftieth birthday with a party planned by friends, colleagues, and clients.  

Near the end of 2017, I was honored when Prospect for Murder won first place for 6 x 9-inch cover art and was a finalist in the mystery and suspense category of the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards.  At New Year’s, I was preparing for the publication of Murder on Mokulua Drive (the second Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian mystery).  Almost daily, there were details of publishing that needed to be considered…The days passed quickly, and it seemed that I had barely signed my contract with Artemesia Publishing when the book arrived on my doorstep.  The colors of the cover were evocative and the texture of partial embossing delightful.

In my contemplation of how I have reached this point in my career as a writer, design consultant, and speaker, I focused much of my attention on one event…

An Opportunity for Public Speaking
In 2017, I was asked to read my work at a meeting of the local chapter of the National Writers Union [NWU].  However, I wanted to offer attendees ideas that might prove useful in their own work.  What would be the theme of my presentation?  I began by examining both completed and planned projects.

I soon recognized a pattern of recycling in much of my writing.  This reached beyond what was embodied in the anthology, Under Sonoran Skies, Prose and Poetry from the High Desert.  For this project, I joined fellow authors Bill Black, Susan Cosby-Patton, Kay Lesh, Patricia Noble, and the late Larry Sakin, in offering pieces spanning several decades.  Aside from serving as art director and indexer, my contributions included a series of historical articles on Tucson, Arizona, an essay of advice to entrepreneurs, and one poem.  The only thing that was wholly fresh, was the poem.

As I considered the Natalie Seachrist series, I saw the weaving of elements from the lives of people I have known, my own life experiences, pan-Pacific history, and the multi-culturalism of Hawai`i.  It may seem as though I’m speaking like an author with a dozen published books, so I should mention that the third book, Murders of Conveyance, is finished, and Yen for Murder is nearing completion.  Unfortunately, the publishing business almost always lags behind an author’s actual output…

Looking through articles I wrote for clients and non-profit organizations, I again found a fusion of aspects of fact and fiction.  Even the ads and commercials I have helped shape blended components from today and yesterday, as I sought to merge where we find ourselves today with our journey to arrive here.

Eventually, I opted to read selections of my work for the NWU, while sharing how each had developed from earlier pieces.   I also suggested that my listeners create electronic files with verbiage that had fallen to the cutting room floor during editing, as well as electronic and hardcopy folders with concepts for future projects.  This has helped me to outline several future adventures for Natalie and her colleagues to experience…

An Author of Non-Fiction as well as Fiction
At the juncture of 2017 and 2018, I was also working on a new book of non-fiction, Conversations with Auntie Carol.  This is a series of seven oral history interviews planned for presentation in both print and audio editions.  Dating from 25 years ago, Caroline Kuliaikanu`ukapu Wilcox DeLima Farias told stories that delight audiences of many ages and backgrounds.  They range from episodes in her youth in `Ulupalakua, Maui, dancing hula awana in Waikīkī on December 6, 1941, and being a member of the family that includes Robert William Kalanihiapo Wilcox, a leader of the 1895 royalist rebellion to restore the sovereignty of Queen Lili`uokalani.

Becoming an Author
My birthday review began with remembering that NWU address, and then paused at the Auntie Carol and Natalie Seachrist projects.   Next, I moved on to a consideration of my overall life journey.  How had I reached the point of being an author of multiple books?  Today, students in college and even high school are urged to recognize that they will probably have multiple careers in life.  How does one plan for this?  Consider my own experiences.  I spent years in training, performance, and teaching in the performing arts.  I worked in marketing and public relations for decades.  I earned a bachelor’s degree and had advanced education in history.  How could I have planned a more appropriate background for eventually becoming an author?

What about you?  Serendipity may have played a role in your arrival at the point where you find yourself today, but careful analysis and planning can help you determine where you will go next…and where you may conclude your earthly sojourn.  What can you do to strengthen your chances of liking new directions?  Consider the following

~  Are there projects you need to complete?
~  Are there people with whom you should reconnect or disconnect?
~  Should you embark on a program of education and self-improvement?
[Are you aware that you can take college classes by audit rather than credit?]
~  Do you need to widen your daily experiences to enhance your well-being?

In closing, my recommendation is to give yourself credit for having arrived at the point where you are in life!  There is only one of you…and the world should be a better place by your very presence!!!

Wishing you the best in your writing endeavors,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, wordsmith and design consultant

To learn more about the first book in the Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian mystery series, Conversations with Auntie Carol, and other projects, please visit my author’s website at JeanneBurrows-Johnson.com  For more ideas to strengthen your Wordpower© and branding, please visit: ImaginingsWordpower.com.

 

Empowering Your Words with Effective Sequencing

For decades, I’ve shaped effective written materials for clients and myself.  At the end of assignments, clients often ask if there’s a definitive method for generating quality writing.  Unfortunately, while aspects of the pieces I write can serve as virtual templates, I have to report there’s no magic potion for guaranteeing effectual wordsmithing.  For anyone.  Amateur or pro, the key to quality writing is blending creativity with exhaustive editing.

Feeling nervous to launch your writing project?  Ask yourself one simple question:  Am I so focused on the final product that I’m inhibiting my ability to write?  Your honest answer might be a reluctant yes.  If so, merely facing a pen or keyboard can be traumatic.  In response, consider performing a visualization exercise.  Without committing yourself to serious meditative practices, you should be able to picture your target audience reacting positively to a large screen presentation of your message.  Armed with this optimistic image, you should feel better prepared to set your verbal vehicle on the path to success.

How will you reach your goal?  Regardless of the type of text you are composing, I’ve found that outlining is an invaluable tool.  I believe there are three essential steps to shaping a focused outline:

~  Write a mission statement summarizing your project’s purpose
 ~  List key points in a progressive sequence that validates your summary
~  Craft a closing statement summarizing how you’ve met the goals of your mission

You now have a recipe for determining the content and sequencing of the elements of your composition.  The exact position of the various components will vary, depending on the product you’re fabricating.  The key points on your list may yield paragraphs in an essay, article or speech.  They may also become individual pages in a website.  If you are seeking financial backing for a new business, they could become categories within your business plan.  And fiction?  Well, your list may be the plotline that yields the chapters of a prize winning novel.

Despite my assertion that such organization will aid every writing endeavor, do not suppose that good writers never experience confusion, indecision, or misdirection.  The writing process is a dovetailing of creative and technical activity.  As you plunge into the construction process of your project, you will need to alternate between capturing the essence of what you want to say and coldly editing what you have written.  The beauty of this double pronged approach is that you can let your thoughts flow freely, knowing that the structure of your work will evolve as you edit your way toward a harmonious conclusion. I certainly found this approach to wordsmithing invaluable in writing the first Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian mysteries, Prospect For Murder.

This approach facilitates your remaining productive, even when experiencing writer’s block.  For if you feel your creativity as a writer has stagnated, you can turn to another aspect of the project.  Is there supporting material that requires your attention?  Perhaps you need to shape a bibliography or glossary, or a preface, afterword or acknowledgement section If you’re responsible for printing, broadcasting, or uploading the final product, you may also need to work on color, form, texture, and artwork to present your thoughts with dynamism to your readers or viewers.  And, of course, there’s always your personal bio or corporate mission statement to revisit…

Wishing you the best in your writing endeavors,
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, wordsmith and design consultant

For more ideas to strengthen your Wordpower© and branding, please visit:
https://www.ImaginingsWordpower.com

To learn more about Prospect for Murder and other writing projects, please visit my author’s website at Https://www.JeanneBurrows-Johnson.com.  And for more ideas to strengthen your Wordpower© and branding, please visit my website:  Https://www.ImaginingsWordpower.com