An author talking…and a conundrum

ccnancyjardineThis post is by Nancy Jardine

An author talking…and a conundrum

That makes a change from an author writing but actually, there’s still a lot of writing and thinking involved. As some readers of this blog may have guessed, I’m a bit obsessed by the Ancient Roman Invasion of Caledonia, and in particular their temporary occupation of Aberdeenshire, the part of Scotland where I currently live.

For almost a year, I’ve been going forth to sell my books at local Craft Fairs and larger local events with historical significance like the Aboyne Highland Games and theatrical spectaculars at local Scottish Castles. Selling books is prime but part of my strategy in going out into the public arena has also been to advertise myself as available for ‘Author Talks’, the aim for more public awareness of me as an author, and to physically promote my writing.

20150502_101642I’ve had some fantastic conversations with people over the selling table about the Romans in Scotland, some of whom have bought my historical novels and some who haven’t. Partial success there! However, one-to-one conversations aren’t quite the same as public speaking.

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image acquired from http://www.123rf.com

Since first being published in 2011, I’ve done quite a few informal talks to small audiences about my own pathway to writing and about my books. These audiences have mainly been in local public libraries and at clubs predominantly attended by women, the audience size typically around 10-20 attendees. Now, as a result of my bookselling endeavours, I’ve been asked to do talks to larger audiences. For these I’ve been asked to focus more on my historical research of the Ancient Roman Invasion, with just a tad inserted about my historically based novels. My preparation for these needs a fresh new approach.

Here’s where the thinking comes in and a first conundrum!

I’m really interested in the history but how to enthuse a larger audience is a fine challenge. In my head, I can easily imagine ten thousand Roman soldiers tramping through the countryside but making others see those images is something else.

The typical length of talk is around 40 minutes with a question/ answer part taking the event to around an hour.

Conundrum again. What to include and what TO LEAVE OUT!

As a practising teacher, I created PowerPoint presentations but that’s not happened since around 2008. I’m not at all familiar with the technology people use now and my current laptop doesn’t have PowerPoint loaded on it. I’ll be able to get around the issue of illustrative material for a local library talk to maybe some 20 attendees by creating a ‘flip chart’ set of illustrations—but that won’t work for the audience of near 50 at a different venue. For the local library talk I’m not expecting any payment at all, and I’m not sure yet how much of a fee might be paid for the larger ones (travelling expenses/fee to be negotiated )so cost should be a factor in what I prepare. (The business side of this area of promoting my writing isn’t yet my forte!)

What should I do?
• Should I create a basic talk built around 2 different sets of illustrative material?
1 – physical illustrations which will work with a small seated group
2 – use overhead projector images?
• Should I spend time creating something like a PowerPoint presentation and hope that the technology in each ‘new’ venue can be made to work properly?
• Should I just talk with no illustrations?

I know what I’m aiming to prepare but I’m also thinking that some of you who have ventured into the larger ‘talk’ situation might be able to advise me.

What do you think you would aim for if you were at the planning stage of a set of talks to different audience sizes?

Have a lovely weekend! I’m going to be at my desk- a lot! 🙂

Nancy Jardine writes: historical romantic adventures; contemporary romantic mysteries; time-travel historical for Early Teens/YA

Celtic Fervour

Novels available as print adn ebook formats from:

Amazon Author page

also from Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and other major ebook stores.

3 mysteries

TTG augustFind Nancy at the following places
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This entry was posted in advice sought, anticipation, enthusiasm, public speaking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to An author talking…and a conundrum

  1. Joe Stephens says:

    As a techie (I’m the technology purchaser for my school and I use technology in my classroom constantly) I can tell you that PowerPoint on your laptop and buying your own projector might be a good investment. You can get a good, bright projector for around $300 and if you get a license for Office 365, which includes access to OneDrive, you can access your files and all the programs from any device that has Internet connectivity. If you plan to do this regularly, this is a small investment in my mind.

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    • Nancy Jardine says:

      Thank you, Joe. I admit that when I left the classroom I thought I’d never need to do any presentations ever again but see the value in what you’re suggesting. Thanks for that!

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  2. Doris says:

    Nancy, As someone who talks to large and small audiences all the time, feel free to email me at the gmail account and I can take you through my process. I rarely use power point. I believe it distracts from the topic. If anything I just use handouts, if that. As to fees, I get upwards of $250 per 20-40 minute session. Doris

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  3. katewyland says:

    My techie hubby agrees with Joe. You need your own stuff. Trying to hook up to someone else’s equipment can be a nightmare.

    Personally, I need some visuals when listening to a talk, otherwise I zone out. Given your topic I’d think Power Point “slides” would be the best choice.

    Good luck with your talks. That’s really exciting.

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    • Nancy Jardine says:

      Hi, Kate. I agree that visual is important, as much as it was when I was teaching 11-12 year olds so I have to get something suitable organised!

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  4. I have no experience in this kind of thing since I only do panels with other authors and don’t have anything to “talk” about in front of a large audience (yet!). But I belong to Sisters in Crime (a national organization for mystery authors) and we have monthly speakers. I like to have visuals to look at but if the speaker is dynamic enough, then I don’t need visuals as much. Props are always fun too! Great post, Nancy. Good luck!

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  5. Neva Bodin says:

    I”m a visual learner so really like visuals to help make a point, at least a few to help remember the most important points. I use them in presentations I have done for healthcare, etc. If not I give handouts. I like those too then I can review them, not concentrate on writing notes when I should be listening, etc. Depends on the type of learner you are speaking to I guess. Good for you. Sounds like you are becoming well known.

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    • Nancy Jardine says:

      Not so much the well known yet, Neva, but thank you! I will use some kind of visuals since I need them as prompts to ‘move forward’ in the talk. I’m seriously considering your idea of having some simple, home printed handouts prepared in case any projection images are a problem- so thanks for that. What I’ve really needed is this advice on what is currently happening, from people like yourself who are giving talks of some kind.

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  6. Nancy, I think you should have some visuals. People learn differently, and as a former teacher, I’m sure you know that some are audible learners and some are visual learners. By having both, you’ll be able to engage your audience. I use the software Joe recommends, and the presentation part of it works with Powerpoint, so if you take your own equipment or use someone else’s, it can work. Investing in a project is a good idea, although I haven’t done so yet — I always ask the venue if they can provide one. Handouts are great as well and so are props — I think all the ideas people have provided are excellent. Good luck to you and congratulations! 🙂 Speaking engagements can be fun and can bring new readers — I love giving programs and I’m sure you will be great at them! P.S. I recommend creating one program and lengthening it/shortening it as needed — less work that way — and after the first couple, you can create more in the future so you have a ‘plethora’ of options for your audiences! 🙂

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    • Nancy Jardine says:

      All great ideas to add to what I’d planned, Gayle. 🙂 Thank you. I’ve had loads of people say powerPoint is still the main mechanism to use and I know how to create presentations with that. I’d just wondered if something else had supplanted PowerPoint in the seven years since I last used it. Great advice about the one basic structure which can be adjusted to the audience/ venue etc. 😉

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  7. Mike Staton says:

    I’m with most of the folks… use visuals. When I was a technical writer, doing presentations on paper machine technology, I used Powerpoint. Yes, I understand that some people don’t like illustrations with blocks of text, but I found them useful, both as the presenter and as someone watching a talk. Good luck.

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  8. S. J. Brown says:

    Of course I am going to tell you to use illustrations, pictures anything visual you can get your hands on. I try to have as much of what I need with me no matter what the size crowd. Also you have to remember a larger venue doesn’t guarantee a larger crowd. Inquire if there will be equipment like a projector available to you. Use the same planning strategy that you use for the smaller venues, stick with what works best.

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    • Nancy Jardine says:

      Yes, S.J. the forward planning at the venue will be useful and I’ll definitely be using some visuals. thank you! Sadly, I won’t be finding ‘real photogaraphs’ of ancient Roman soldiers from 2000 years ago to use, however re-enactment stuff can be found. 😉

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