Recently, I had the privilege of speaking to a class of grade 7/8 students. Let me tell you I was blown away by how receptive those kids were! I came in with a prepared presentation, and surprisingly found the class wanting to know more and more about what it’s like to be a published author. So, I booked another session with the same class the following week with the teacher, and had the time of my life! The best part wasn’t the readings—though the students wanted to know what happens next when I finished the chapter—it was the question and answer period. And believe me, sometimes kids do ask the darnedest questions!
Whether you’re presenting to a small class like I did or to an auditorium full of people, here are three guidelines for your next presentation that are sure to grab the attention of your audience:
Make it Emotional. You must touch a person’s heart before you reach their head. The easiest and most effective way to make an emotional connection with people is to tell stories. What I did was tell the class about my experiences on the road to publication, and the process behind writing a book. I shared the tough, rejection-filled times, and the high-five signed a contract times. I even sprinkled a smattering of gossip that my agented teen psychic mystery series is presently sitting in the hands of three traditional publishing companies. They ate that up!
Make it Novel. The human brain doesn’t pay attention to boring things. Ideas that spread are unexpected, surprising, and delivered in a fresh or novel way. Kids get this. I came in with a hook. I didn’t talk about my book right off the bat. I asked them about their March Break holiday, and if any of the students went on a trip. Read: I connected with them, engaged them first. After that, we talked about their favorite video games, which rolled into favorite books, which then gathered enough momentum to start my author presentation. Don’t be boring. Be novel.
Make it Memorable. Make’em laugh. Make’em think. Make’em ask questions. Most of all, make’em remember you! The best ideas stand zero chance of being successful if they can’t be recalled. One great technique is the rule of three. It simply means that people can only recall about three pieces of information. Don’t overwhelm your listener. Give them three reasons to invest in you. I started out talking about my past life before engaging the class. They want to know about you the author, and how you ended up standing in front of them. Tease them with what’s in the works for the future, then bring it home with choosing the best possible chapter to read from your book that will leave them hanging, and wanting more.
BTW – This is what the teacher had to say:
“Sharon definitely was prepared and made her presentation interesting for the class. She made a great link between the thinking of video games to the thinking of an author ie) setting, character, plot. Kids totally got that. Saw a little nerves, (had to look at her sheet) but not a routine thing for her. Glad to have her! Sharon also had time to come a second time to answer questions. Thanks!”
~Monica Park, Grade 7/8 teacher for St. Mary’s School, Huntsville ON Canada
Hmm…don’t think the nerve thing will ever go away. LOL! Do you have any author presentation experiences you’d like to share? Love to hear’em!