Top 5 ways to make the most of your speaking gig

We’re talking speaking engagements today, people. Why? Because I just did one at today at the Grapevine, Texas Chamber of Commerce, and while things are fresh in my mind, we can chat about how to make the most of the speaking engagement. In fact, let’s run through the top 5 ways to make the most of your speaking engagement:

1. Be Prepared. If you need to borrow a laptop projector, make plans with your contact weeks beforehand. Then confirm days before the meeting. Have a hard copy of your presentation ready just in case your laptop or their projector is on the fritz. Take a bottle of water with you.  Have a “listeners’ kit” ready for everyone there including: info about buying the book today, info about becoming a part of your email list, bookmark and business card. Make sure you know where you’re going. Get there early. Just basically channel your inner Boy Scout and you’ll be fine.

2. Speak to the Group. Don’t talk about the minutiae of story plotting and character development to a chamber group of realtors or bankers. In other words, have a couple different presentations ready to go. Don’t give the writer’s/book club presentation to the chamber/Lion’s Club members. Have a more middle of the road presentation ready for that. First talk about your background. Then move into your current book. Is it a financial thriller that uses the recent economic meltdown? Talk about recent financial information that should make us all be crapping our pants. Follow that with talk about the state of the publishing industry (see crapping pants from previous sentence) Cover those topics and you’ll have blown past 30 minutes and will be ready for the Q&A, then a little time to sign some books and you’re out the door.

3. Be Witty and Interactive. Let’s go back to the chamber meeting for this one. At the opening, ask, “So has anyone ever toyed with the idea of writing a book?” Several hands will probably go up. If not, make the case for those people that need to write a book. If it’s a chamber meeting, you’re probably going to have at least one realtor there. “Jerry with ReMax can publish an ebook on “How to Sell Your House in less than 5 Days” through Amazon’s Digital Text Platform for free and even make it a free download on his website (as a .PDF) to attract more eyeballs.” Boom, those people are now the “characters” in your presentation. If folks are writing/toying with the idea of writing a book, ask a couple of them about their book, their ideas for the story, etc. As you go through your presentation, come back to these folks again and again. “In Susan’s case for example, she can create a blog about and for women lawyers. It will give her an audience with women lawyers and tie in nicely with her legal thriller.” Any tools that you are talking about that people can use to promote/sell books, use Jerry’s made up book on selling a house as an example. Thrown in a few jokes. If you connect with your audience, and can make them laugh, they’ll like you. If they like you, the more likely they’ll buy a book at the end of your presentation.  

4. Pass Out Books To Everyone There – I’m not saying be Oprah here. (You get a book! You get a book!…) Pass about ten out at the beginning of the meeting. No one will buy a car unless they’ve test driven it. Turn the meeting space into a makeshift bookstore. As they sit there, let them touch, smell, get into your book, maybe even read a few pages. You’ll get more sales at the end of the meeting.

5. Send a Written Thank You Card – Like Mom always said, good manners matter. MAIL a thank you card to everyone responsible for hosting you. No email or text will do. Suck up the 45 cents for the stamp and make sure to use your best handwriting and thank your hosts, and mail it out promptly following your meeting. Remember the Law of 250 (on average, everyone knows 250 people) – your host could be at a Christmas party and say something like, “We had this local author at our year end chamber meeting the other day, a great guy, really funny and interesting. His book is called The Brink, it’s a suspense thriller. I simply can’t put it down. You need to read it.” 

Thank you, thank you card. You just gave us another sale.

Questions? Comments? To the keyboards!


Mark’s latest novel, The Brink, was selected for Barnes and Noble’s Special Collection for a second time! Check it out at