A Blogger’s Guide to Public Speaking (and Why You Should Learn)
You’re a blogger—a professional, amateur, or somewhere in-between writer who spends most of their days quietly researching, drafting, or editing work to be published on your site. It’d be stereotyping to assume you’re introverted, but certainly not a stretch, so the thought of converting to become a public speaker seems like it’s out of left field.
However, becoming a public speaker (at least in a limited capacity) can not only give you a new outlet for promoting your blog, but it can also end up making you a better writer.
There are several benefits to public speaking:
- Language exercises. Talking and writing can be similar, but they ultimately represent two different linguistic exercises. Spending time preparing and giving speeches will force you to think about language in a different way, which can strengthen your linguistic capabilities—and make your blog more interesting.
- Blog (and author) notoriety. Attending events as a public speaker imbues you with authority, and the more heavily attended those events are, the more notoriety you’ll generate for yourself. Think of it as a free opportunity to advertise your blog, and a chance to prove you’re worth your salt.
- Networking and engagement. Most public speaking events are also perfect opportunities to network with other people. You’ll meet other speakers and other bloggers, and may have the chance to answer audience questions. These forms of engagement can expose you to new ideas, and help you develop new skills.
Honing Your Public Speaking Skills
So how can you go from being a quiet blogger to being known as a public speaker? These tips can help:
- Be your best self. When presenting, you can certainly be yourself, but you have to be the best possible version of yourself. That means exhibiting confidence, rather than looking anxious or timid, reducing your reliance on filler words, and speaking directly to your audience, rather than mumbling to your PowerPoint presentation.
- Work on your body language. Public speaking isn’t just about using the right words or projecting your voice; people are also going to be paying attention to your body and physical movements. You can start improving by working on your posture, standing tall with your shoulders back. You can also practice walking slowly across the stage while speaking and gently gesticulating with your hands. Just be careful not to pick up any tics or bad habits that could detract the audience’s attention.
- Practice, but not too much. It pays to practice your speech in advance, but you don’t want to practice too much. You should be thoroughly familiar with all your presentation materials and have a solid idea of what you want to talk about, but you shouldn’t be so well rehearsed that you’re giving your speech from memory, word-for-word. People want an engaging speaker, not a robot.
- Show off your personality. People remember speakers for their personalities more frequently than they remember them for their presentation material. Make sure your personality has a chance to shine. For example, you could throw in a few of your favorite jokes, or use a dry sense of humor to get a few laughs from the audience. If you’re passionate about this subject, demonstrate more enthusiasm. There’s no right or wrong approach here: just be you.
- Focus on the beginning and the end. The first minute of your presentation is your only chance to make a first impression. The last minute of your presentation is going to be the easiest to remember, whether you like it or not. Spend extra time and effort making sure you land these powerful moments.
Finding Your First Opportunity
The last holdup is finding the right opportunity in which to present. Start by researching various public speaking events that are upcoming in your area, and see if your blog is a fit for any of them. If it is, reach out to the organizer and offer to fill a slot. When making a pitch, make sure you give a brief outline of what you’d talk about, and why it would be valuable to the audience in question.
If you’re having trouble finding an opportunity, or landing yourself a slot in the right presentation format, consider networking with existing public speakers who already have experience. They should be able to point you in the right direction.
After public speaking once, you’ll find it easier to get subsequent opportunities. The more you speak in public, and the more you engage with the audience, the more speaking opportunities will naturally come your way. You’ll also get more confident and more skilled as a public speaker, and your blog will grow more popular—both of which can help you find more prominent opportunities in the future.