Let’s talk about how to be a cool cat.
Specifically, let’s talk about how to be a cool cat when you’re making a presentation, giving a speech, or reading from your book.
Yes, props. No, you’re not on the theatre’s stage, but you are on stage. So bring props.
I wrote out the questions below, on strips of paper, and had my husband come up in front of the audience. I made him read them, aloud, one at a time. No, he didn’t know he was going to be subjected to this terror and he MIGHT have rolled his eyes at me.
Yes, I have an odd and quirky and twisty sense of humor.
It was pretty funny.
Now, I realize you all may not have someone who is willing to do something quite this weird, so here are a few other props I’ve brought to my speeches/presentations:
When I present, I will almost always bring out the journals I write and scribble in while writing my books. Each book gets about four to five journals as I swear/cry/have temper tantrums while writing it. People love to see how a book is written, from beginning to end. So, I show them the beginning – my journals.
I also show them the inside of a journal or two.
The first photo is from my latest book The Man She Married. I was focusing on why people lie.
The next photo is for my upcoming book All About Evie. I was trying to figure out what Evie’s kitchen looked like.
I have also shown my audiences a (very poorly drawn) picture of one of my main characters to show how I developed her.
The one below is of Jaden Bruxelle from my book A Different Kind of Normal. See all that scribbling?
That’s all the “stuff” I know about her – what she looks like, her job as a hospice nurse, how she uses herbs and spices, and how she grows the same flowers as her ancestors, in the garden that her grandmother began.
I have also made notes about her family. She has a mother who is a soap opera star, a brother who is a florist, and a sister who is a drug addict.
People love to see how writers develop characters. This is one concrete way to show them.
What about bringing a scroll to show?
This is a list of everything I had to research to write The Language of Sisters. It’s a looooong list and when I let it fall, it was about four feet long.
The people in the workshop thought it was interesting because it gave them a clear look at what it takes to research a book with any historical element in it.
People love props. They love when you take something out of a bag. They love wondering what’s in the box. They love looking at different items. If you ask them later what your speech was about, they will tell you about the props you brought.
So, look around. What can you bring to your speech to show your audience who you are, who the person behind the books is? What exemplifies you or your office or your writing desk or your book or your characters?
What inspired you to write your story? A newspaper article? A portrait? A vase? A story from your grandma? A cookbook? Bring it. Hold it up. Smile.
What does your writing process involve? Sticky notes? Bring a board full of your sticky notes and talk about how they helped guide you through your book.
Do you use an outline? Bring the outline. No, it doesn’t matter if it’s a mess, people simply want to see your organizational process.
Do you use magazine photographs of men/women/children to help you see your character? Glue those to tagboard and hold it up.
Do you write in long hand? Show them your long hand on that yellow legal pad and tell why it works for you.
Do you do anything to settle your mind before you write? Meditation? Yoga? Painting? Enlarge photos of you in those activities and bring them. Tell why these activities help you as a writer.
Using props will help you with your speech. You will feel calmer knowing you’re talking around and about an object(s).
There’s also something about having an object/photo/something funny that helps you center yourself around your speech.
Remember: You are a cool cat. You can do this.
Have you ever tried using props for speaking? Any tips for us?
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Cathy Lamb’s twelfth book, The Man She Married, was recently released. She is working on her 13th novel while slugging down too much coffee. She recently bought a box of chocolate truffles for nutritional purposes only, of course, chocolate being good for you and all.