Sunday, April 22, 2007

Speak Up, Author!

At a recent writers conference, Obie Joe waited with anticipation to see one of our favorite online journalists. Her wry and insightful observations about her area of expertise -- the Supreme Court -- are welcome reading during the session.
Once she began reading, though, our bewilderment began. The content didn’t match the delivery. Though her commentaries often have wit, the fun was zapped with her childlike tone.
This is not the first time Obie Joe has been baffled by the missed opportunity. We publicists spend a great deal of time on media coaching, but Obie Joe wonders if authors would benefit more from presentation coaching.
So. Obie Joe’s pointers on effective author speaking:
• inflect, but not too much, otherwise you sound like nursery rhyme time
• lose the monotone, of course, but don’t worry about that as much as misplaced inflection
• slow down. Soak in the silence, let it build the anticipation for your next paragraph.
• allow for momentum to build by sensing the audience’s mood, and allowing that to feed the next rhythm. We all know to wait for the laughter to subside, but it’s just as important to wait for audience’s interest to begin.
• use pauses.
• if you’ve got lots of dialogue, make different voices. It’s a tricky thing, though. Don’t replicate Robin Williams.
• above all, speak as though you’re telling a story -- funny, interesting, and with a point -- to your good friend.

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