The pre-reqs of public speaking

What makes a good public speaker?  A strong voice?  Lotsa guts?  The gift of gab?

If you guessed any of these, you’d be right, but they’re the tip of the iceberg – literally, only the part you see.  When I talk before a group, there’s much more involved, and since I’m flying across the country to keynote a women’s breakfast in California this week, I’m in the midst of it right now.

First, clothes.  This heads the list because, if I have to buy something new, it may take a while.  Most venues suggest business attire, though for a large evening event, I need something more dressy.  Whatever I wear has to be flattering and comfortable.  In the case of my talk this Friday, my hosts are going with black, yellow, and red, and suggested I not wear, say purple (which means my purple nail polish has to go, see below).  I’m good with that.

Second, hair and nails.  I hate to say it, but appearance matters when it comes to these engagements.  Some groups actually rank you on it in a post-event report, meaning that it can affect future bookings.  Hair and nails are part of the package, and they take pre-planning.  If I have to head to the airport at two, a noon hair appointment is calling it close.  In this case, I have one booked at nine in the morning, with nails the day before.

Third, speech.  This is actually the most demanding part for an author.  The host gives me a theme – sometimes relating to my fiction, sometimes breast cancer, sometimes a combo of the two.  When I am limited to a specific time frame, say twenty-five minutes, I write out the entire speech to assure the right length, then read it over once or twice a day for several weeks until I can talk without actually reading word by word.  California will be different.  They’ve asked me to talk for an hour, and the atmosphere will be laid-back and fun, so I’m talking from a combination of a script and a detailed outline.

Fourth, travel arrangements.  How do I get to and from the airport in Boston, then again in Los Angeles?  How and when do I fly?  Who meets me where?  What’s a good contact phone number?  My speaker’s agent actually helps with these plans, though I have to coordinate.

Fifth, packing.  Since L.A. is so different from Boston, I’ve been monitoring the advance weather forecasts for weeks.  Do I wear open-toed shoes or pumps?  Stockings or leggings?  A blazer, sweater, or shawl?  And what to wear on the airplane, six hours each way.  I never check luggage for this kind of trip, since I’m traveling on such a tight schedule that if luggage is lost, it’ll never catch up with me before my speech.  Hair-dryer?  Check.  Make-up?  Check.  (You see my priorities.)

Sixth, what I leave behind.  I’m talking about paying bills, buying fresh food for DH, prescheduling blogs, and madly working to add extra pages to Sweet Salt Air as compensation for missing two days of work.

Speaking of which, I’d better get back to it.  Think of me Friday.

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  1. Binky Tindall on April 25, 2012 at 7:20 am

    Enjoy all of your writing very much!

    • Mildred on April 26, 2012 at 11:18 am

      Wow! that was helpful…will use these on my next talk/seminar…Thank you Barbara

  2. Louise Balanda on April 25, 2012 at 7:53 am

    I’ve given your CA book to friends who have suffered from breast cancer (unfortunately, there are too many). They’ve all found it to be very helpful.

    Your books are great. I love how you research a theme of human nature. My husband heard you speak at B.C. a few years ago and was very impressed with both content and presentation (very relaxed and engaging). I’m proud to inform people that you come from my home town. Keep it up.

  3. Bonnie on April 25, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Wow, so much to think about. Thanks for sharing ! Traveling is exhausting but it’s so worth the total experience !
    I’m sure the ladies in California will thoroughly enjoy having you speak. Your warm, personal style charms everyone.

  4. Julia on April 25, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I think your speak will be great. I love your books, you are very good writer.

  5. Ruthanne Lyons on April 25, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    I’m so glad i read your blog today. I am going out to Greenfield Iowa for my second signing of my book. Thank you for the heads up.. Love your writing, Ruthanne

  6. Judy Stratton on April 25, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Always interesting to read your thoughts on things. Best wished Friday…safe travels. Looking forward to the new book :)!

  7. Carin Buckman on April 26, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I can tell you’re anxious about this one but you know you are going to be the woman of poise and grace and wow the crowd, as always! And if you need wardrobe advice, you know where you can get that kind of help…. Safe travels and have FUN!

    • Barbara Delinsky on April 28, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      Carin, FYI, for my talk in CA yesterday, I wore a wrap dress with the little black sparkly sweater that I got at PotPourri in West Hartford last fall. So your wardrobe advice was definitely with me. 🙂

  8. Elaine on April 26, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Just reading your preparations to speak makes me nervous. I’m in awe of anyone who can stand up in front of a room of people and speak with confidence. I had not thought about all the prep work, personal and on paper involved in an event like this. Love your books. Looking forward to your next release.

  9. Pat Puckett on April 26, 2012 at 10:09 am

    I’m exhausted just reading about the preparations for your travels and speaking engagement!! Sounds so exciting, though. Have a safe trip….. and I’m sure you will look gorgeous and knock their socks off!!!

  10. carolyn kingsley on April 26, 2012 at 10:46 am

    What a thrill! All the way out to CA. I’m envious. I’ve never been out west, but one day i’ll make it.

  11. Renee MacLaughlan on April 27, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Barbara, I was at “A Day in Paris” today and you spoke wonderfully. I also got to meet you when you signed my book – I’m the one who was craving the type of book that I am certain “Uplift” will be while I was at the beginning of my own breast cancer journey. It’s been 2 years since my surgery and the journey never seems to end, does it? But as you said today, that’s a good thing because I am now experiencing things that I never thought that I would and I’ve joined a sisterhood of people who all share the same diagnosis and some of the same experiences. Thank you for sharing your words today and for taking the time to speak to me while signing my book. I am looking forward to many more life experiences and making sure that by sharing my story, people will think about getting themselves checked.

    • Barbara Delinsky on April 28, 2012 at 3:00 pm

      I certainly remember you, Renee. What a wonderful event that was. Thanks so much for being there and for sending these beautiful thoughts to me now.

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