Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Public Speaking for Writers 102
Avery made a very good point in his comments on my yesterday’s post. He suggested making sure you’ve actually prepared more material than you think you’ll have a chance to present. This is in case the question period doesn’t go well. I always try to develop my talks in modules of 5 to 15 minutes each so I can either leave out or add in modules to adjust for my time situation. Here’s how this works, using the example of my Dream Talk at Pagan Pride Day.
Module 1 - I allocated about 5 minutes or so to telling folks why I enjoy nightmares and to giving an example of one of mine. This is largely introductory material.
Module 2 – About 5 minutes were allocated to a brief description of the five stages of sleep and to the facts of sleep, such as that everyone dreams but that typically only those who wake up at the end of a dream remember them. This is set up material for the main body of the talk.
Module 3 – About 12 to 15 minutes were allocated for talking about ways to increase dreaming and improve one’s recall of dreams.
Module 4 – Here I used dream disorders to illustrate specific points about dreaming, such as how these could explain some ghost encounters or alien abduction experiences. This section of the talk was broken into sub modules. I had six sub modules planned, for about 3-5 minutes each, but was only able to get through three because of questions. I had more prepared, though, in case.
In a sense, the modular format works very much like “scenes” in writing. Individual modules can be moved around to fit the demands of the specific talk just as scenes can be moved around within the body of a manuscript. Neither modules nor scenes are infinitely flexible, but they do allow for better movement. They also make it much easier to practice and memorize a speech, at least for me.
More on public speaking in another post.