Tag Archives: Presentations

Thoughts from the Treadmill: Performance

I did it! Last week, I told how I was preparing to speak to a group at Stetson University in Celebration, Florida about writing romance novels. That happened this past Wednesday. I got through all my treadmillmaterial, elicited several thoughtful and pertinent questions from the audience, and finished on time. I even received numerous compliments from those who were there. Not too bad. Considering that my printer stopped working just as I went to print off my slides and I walked off without my notecards, it was a pretty darn good experience for me.

It was a bit like taking my comps when I went after my MA in History years ago. Scary proposition, but once I’d passed “Go,” I was on a roll, sharing my knowledge and opinions. In short, it was fantastic!

So, what did I learn from this experience? First, believe in yourself. Despite great planning, the unanticipated will happen, but if you’re prepared and passionate about your topic, you’ll get through it. In fact, it’s sometimes those “accidents” that make you more human, more approachable to your audience.

I also learned that, if it’s operating properly, technology can be your best friend. Working ahead of time with the school’s A-V guru, we were able to set up the projector so that the slides were centered and focused. The remote worked anywhere. Didn’t need to aim it at one tiny point to advance my slides. Finally, the wireless lavalier mic. Never worn one that wasn’t plugged in somewhere, preventing free movement. That freedom to be out amongst the audience at times was, uh, freeing. It allowed me to relax and totally enjoy myself.

performance revAnother thing I learned was the importance of “visioning.” I didn’t do a “dry run” insomuch as delivering my presentation out loud beforehand. That isn’t my style. I freak when something has to be rehearsed in advance with each word being the same each time. I’m a more spontaneous presenter. Instead, I envision my speech in my head, focus on the main points (that’ what bullet points are for) and then articulate my thoughts in the moment. I like “asides,” off-the-cuff comments that occur to me as I go along. Most of the time they add depth and humor.

I learned it’s great to have friends. They come and support you, even if they don’t read (or even like) romance novels.  I didn’t glance their direction often, or I found myself trying to please them, which deflected my focus, but having those friendly faces in the audience gave me peace of mind. stetson 2

Finally, I learned that I’m still learning. As I hit each bullet point and framed my comments about it, I realized there were still some items I needed to know more about. For instance, what is “voice”? I know what it is when I read it, but I didn’t describe it as well as I would have liked. On the other hand, I knew more than my audience, and that’s what counted.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and would willingly consider doing it again. Every so often, it’s important to put yourself “out there” to see how well you fly.

On Saturday, I attended a panel presentation, “Bootcamp for Newbies,” put on by my local writers’ chapter, SpaceCoast Authors of Romance in West Melbourne, FL. Four of our members, Roxanne St. Claire, Kristen Painter, Leigh Duncan and Elle Saint James, who each are multi-published, covered some of the same topics I did on Wednesday. It was gratifying to find out how closely my presentation paralleled theirs, though not as entertaining or humorous.

And He Cooks Too is now official! The Wild Rose Press, my publisher, launched it last Friday.

Photo by Leslie Sloan

Photo by Leslie Sloan

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Thoughts from the Treadmill: Warmup

treadmillHere’s a question for you: imagine you were given the chance to talk about a subject dear to your heart to a group of people who, although probably somewhat interested in that topic, most likely don’t possess the same amount of ardor for it that you do. How would you prepare for it? That’s my challenge this week, as I put my thoughts together for a presentation to Stetson University Lifelong Learning students in Celebration, Florida.

I’m a little concerned about timing. I tend to throw everything I know about a subject into a presentation and run out of time. Speaker’s notes are different than written pages for the reader.  It takes more time to convey the same amount of information that could be read. I’ll probably have to edit, cut some great stuff. You’d think, since this is one of the main processes a writer goes through, this would be old hat. But no. It’s tough. I want to share everything I know about writing romance novels, and there just won’t be time.   warmup 2

So how did I approach this dilemma? The first thing I should have done was obtain some data about what my audience wants to hear, but that wasn’t possible in this situation. So the next best thing was to set three objectives: to say a little about the romance novel industry, to provide a basic introduction to the elements of romance novels, and to share a little about my journey to becoming a published author. Next, I listed all the features of each, using PowerPoint to organize my thoughts, which I’ll also utilize to make the presentation. As I developed these notes, I identified the data I still needed to either find in my files or otherwise research.

One thing I learned in my job as a Human Resources Management Specialist who made various presentations over the years, prepare early, so that I’m not racing against time at the end to put my thoughts together. The basic slides have been done for several days.

atriumTwo days ago, I met with the school’s A-V specialist to see how my colors look in the venue where I’ll speak. It’s in an atrium with two upper floor walkways surrounding it, i.e., a sound gulper. The screen is attached to a slightly concave wall, which means the slides may be distorted. Good to work with those contingencies in advance.

Photo by Leslie Sloan

Photo by Leslie Sloan

And now, as I take my walk on the treadmill, I am putting it all together in my head. I need a great hook to get my audience into it immediately. Again, that’s what romance writers do. Maybe I could go back in time and describe how I got interested in romance novels? Maybe. But I want to appeal to my audience’s interests, not mine. What would snag their interest right away? Something about them. Something they can readily relate to. Maybe how they fell in love?

Gotta keep walking. It hasn’t gelled yet.

By the way, And He Cooks Too officially launches this coming Friday. Check  the And He Cooks Too page on this website for buy info.