Become A Local Speaker

Have you ever wanted to say a few words to a group of intent listeners? Here are some ideas to help you get started.

Becoming a public speaker has its ups and downs. Talking to a group of people can be hard work. They may be bored, angry, busy, or distracted. You may feel tired, ill, unprepared, or inadequate. Some may be forced to attend your presentation by a supervisor. Others may pay out of a pocket for a chance to improve their skills. Part of your audience may need some coaching to keep up with your talk, while others may be ahead of the game and grow impatient waiting for you to catch up.

But the positive side of public speaking includes the thrill of sharing experience or expertise with those who can benefit. Knowing you're making a difference in other people's lives is meaningful and rewarding.

If you have not selected a list of topics yet, do so. Write down several possible themes for your presentations to a variety of community groups. Topics may include the following:



-hobbies (golf, painting, sewing, raising dogs)

-experiences (being deaf, caring for a dying parent)

-travels (overseas, military, student)

Whatever your areas of interest, you probably have several topics on which you might speak to interested listeners.

When you have a list of possible topics, sketch an outline of how you might share ideas with a group based on 30-minute and 60-minute time chunks. Some themes will lend themselves more naturally to this format than others. For example, "bird watching" may be harder to talk about than "scrapbook-making."

After organizing your presentation, create a one-page handout for potential audiences. Clip a copy of your speech outline and the handout and mail several sets to area groups and organizations. Kiwanis, Rotary, and Veterans of Foreign Wars are some of the organizations that may sponsor local chapters in your area.

Tailor your talk to a group's need. If you research genealogies, for example, you may want to gear your craft to companies interested in an official company history for publicity purposes. Be ready to quote a price for your presentation. Or you may want to volunteer your session as a slot filler at the group's next program. The experience will look good on your resume and feel good the next time you do a session.

Ask the library about preparing a session for patrons. A short presentation of 30 minutes or so will be enough to stir interest in your topic while not overwhelming you. Posting fliers may help to draw an audience, which may include local professionals with jobs in companies who are looking for your skills.

Figure your costs by deciding how much you will have to pay for mileage, care maintenance, and wear and tear. Also factor in paper and printing costs, along with overhead operations like electricity. When you have compiled a list of expenses, calculate the hourly rate you need to make to earn a profit.

Make arrangements in advance. After booking a presentation time, arrange set-up before your session date. Ask about available equipment and whether the group has a preferred format, such as lecture, over discussion or questions and answers.

After a few informal sessions you can decide whether you want to continue. Being a speaker requires preparation in planning the way you should look and perform. Join a speaker's bureau or communication forum for more information.

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