Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tea, Cake and Talk

This week's post is a little late, because I was busy preparing for a talk I was giving to a local Women's Institute group, last night.

(If you're wondering why they are all smiling in this photo, it's because I always take a picture BEFORE I start talking. I find I get better photos when my audience is awake rather than asleep, having listened to me droning on for 30 or 40 minutes.)

The reason I wanted to mention this is because talks are an area that many writers can move into. Last night, my talk was about my writing career to date, but you could offer a talk on almost any subject of your choice. If you've had a couple of articles published on one particular subject, why not consider giving a talk about it? Do you write about family history, local interest, or other hobbies? Or, if you write fiction for magazines, or competitions, why not offer a talk on how you go about creating a story?

Last night, I spoke to a local WI group, however, I've also given talks to Probus groups, Civil Service Pension groups, and Library groups as well as a wealth of writers' groups. Village halls and community centres can be bursting with activities every night of the week, so why not find out which groups meet at those places and then see if one, or more, may be interested in having a guest speaker?

It's a good idea to give your talk an intriguing title. I called my talk Sandwiched between Kate Adie and Nick Hornby, which I hoped raised some interest, and there were 36 in the audience, so I think it worked!

Size isn't everything, and when giving your first talk, picking a small group can be a great step. Some community groups may only have a membership of seven, or eight, and it's much easier to start off by talking to a smaller group.

It's a good idea to plan to talk for about 35 to 40 minutes (although, obviously, if your group has asked for something different, then do what they ask!) and then I usually open the floor to questions.

As a guest speaker, you do sometimes get asked to judge group competitions. Last night I had to pick the three best cut flowers in a stem vase. That was a challenge, based upon my gardening knowledge and skills, but there were no fisticuffs afterwards, so I think I managed to pull that one off!

And when going to give talks to a local WI, you know you're always going to have a good cup of tea and nice piece of cake afterwards!

So, if you think you could talk about your favourite subject for 30 to 40 minutes, why not approach some local groups to see if they would be interested. It could open up a whole new world!

Good luck.