I was at the Creative Ink Festival this past weekend and OH wow I’m exhausted. My voice is a little raw, but I had a great time.
I attended more panels on the business and research side of things this year, and I did speak on two panels: Writing Killer Openings, and Selling Short Stories.
This is my third time attending and speaking at the festival, but I still took a ton of notes amassed a bunch of conference going tips that of course I’ll share…
Something I tried:
Being prepared really helps calm the public speaking nerves. This is the first time I think I actually enjoyed the public speaking. It’s absolutely okay to have a cheat sheet even if you never look at it. The moderator for my first panel emailed us the questions she would ask before hand, which was super helpful because it made us look GOOD (and if you ever moderate a panel in the future, I would recommend doing this). For my second panel, I didn’t receive any questions, but I wrote down everything I could think of based on the panel description, and jotted notes as the other authors on the panel were speaking so I could speak to those points when it was my turn.
A tip I’m definitely going to steal from a co-panelist:
Write down everyone’s names as you sit down, so that you can address the other panelists by name if you have something to add (name cards usually face the audience).
Something to avoid:
This is not a hard and fast rule, but it’s a pet peeve of mine when speakers don’t actually offer any concrete advice when they’re talking about a subject. For example, they might explain a thing, but not how to do a thing. Maybe it’s my teacher training, but I always look for actionable information out of my panels. It’s one thing to say: the opening of a story needs to hook a reader. It’s another thing to say: Here are three things you can do to create an opening that hooks a reader.
Faking extroversion (totally doable):
Introduce yourself to your fellow panelists before you speak. If you’re sitting in the audience, simply smiling and waving hi to anyone that sits nearby you is usually enough to start a conversation. If you don’t know what to say, it’s perfectly okay to ask “How’s the conference going for you?” or “Have you attended before or is this your first time?” Having some prepared conversation starters is a good tip. I dislike speaking about myself, and so I tend to ask a lot of questions instead of speaking about myself. “What genre do you write?” I choose low pressure things, because we’re almost all introverts.
Books and resources that were recommended over the weekend:
- Rock Your Plot / Rock Your Revisions by Cathy Yardley
- Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque
- 5 Critical Things For Successful Book Signings by Adam Dreece
- Cornell University Copyright Chart – Helpful if you want to check whether a work belongs to the public domain
- The Lock Picking Lawyer & Bosnian Bill on Youtube for practical lock picking information (in case your characters ever need it)
- Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain (or search for “Scene and Sequel” for info on this plotting technique)
And now, I’m going to hide in my cave and not speak to anyone for a few days. 🙂