Sunday, June 17, 2012

Your Time to Shine: Help in Gaining Audience Acceptance

“Plan your work and work your plan.” Remember that saying? Writers who want book buyers must get into the promotion mode and work their marketing plans.

In my blog Your Time to Shine: Appropriate Attire When Marketing Your Book, I explained the importance of what to wear when speaking to an audience. Follow that advice, and you will make a good impression. But if you hope to sell your products, audience approval must include interest in, and acceptance of what you say. Do you need help with delivering effective presentations? The site,, is a place to start.  

Speaking about Presenting contains a review of a book our group, FAB, is studying. A recent assignment: state three things you liked about Nancy Duarte’s book, Resonate. Following is my report.  

Whether you agree with all she says, or not, you must give Nancy Duarte credit for her research. In addition to three pages devoted to chapter-by-chapter references, the book is indexed—something we expect from nonfiction books, but do not always find. She encourages you to expand your understanding by reading books she mentions, as well as making full use of online materials. One example: a case study of Benjamin Zander via Internet video.

I respect thorough preparation, and if readers get nothing else from Resonate, they will know a presenter who stands up and starts yammering is a pretender and not a presenter. Speakers agree it helps to know their audience. Ms. Duarte turns the subject of knowing from it helps to you must. As part of your preparation, you must know your audience in order to feel connected to it. And, yes, she does give suggestions on how to accomplish that task. “It’s tough to influence people you don’t know,” she says. She follows that statement with research methods, that if followed, should give you a sound idea of who your audience is, and how various segments will feel about your topic as they gather to hear you. Armed with such information, you can plan a speech tailored to “what your audience cares about and link it to your idea.”

A preparation tool on page 108 tells how to collect and catalogue a ready supply of anecdotes that add emotional appeal to your ideas. Your personal, human interest stories, which put life into your presentations, can be recycled to fit varied audiences and occasions.

As a writer, I took special note of how to construct an elevator speech. Nancy Duarte calls it “the big idea.” Among other things, she tells why you must state your main message in complete sentences. On the surface, it’s a simple “how-to” hint, but her explanation helps you see the importance of the sentence versus sentence fragments. Writers need an elevator speech for their business and each of their writing projects. For most of us, preparing that bare-bones talk is the toughest thing we’ll ever write.

Related to the “as a writer” appreciation: on page 82 is a neat list of word pairs that are opposites. Examples: chaos/structure, improvise/plan, resist/yield, and many more. In Resonate the list helps to illustrate what kinds of audience attitudes might exist before and after a presentation. And that’s good. As for me, I simply like words and word lists.

© 2012, Bernice W. Simpson

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