Build a Bridge - Speaking to Impact

This past week I had the opportunity to attend a writer's conference in Colorado. It was three long days full of usually one hour talks in a variety of topics all geared to writing, marketing, and publishing.

It was heaven. It was hell.

(Do I need to explain that statement? Up at 5:30 a.m.and not getting out of workshops until 9:00 p.m. at night...Exhausted and exhilarated all at the same time.)

I love being around other writers and publishers. The energy and ideas in a group like that can be electrifying. While I love the opportunity to speak, I also love the opportunity to listen to other speakers who are experts in their field and are willing to share their expertise, short cuts, and tips.

However, I don't like finding myself in a workshop where the speaker keeps telling me what they are going to teach me and then don't deliver. So here are my tips for this week:

  • Speaking Tip #1 - Give Us a Take-Away

If you are invited to speak. Be sure to deliver. If it is an inspirational talk, make sure you leave your audience with a definite take-away. State it and restate it at the end. Make sure you have made your point and that it was worth making.

  • Speaking Tip #2 - Don't Just Tease

Don't spend half your time telling me what you are going to tell me. It's fine to dangle a carrot initially, but for heaven's sake, don't frustrate your audience by teasing. I sat through a 2 ½ hour conference in which a speaker obviously knew her stuff, but unfortunately didn't know how to deliver it. Of the 2 ½ hours she was allotted, she spent two telling us what she was going to teach us and why we needed to know it. Hands were popping up constantly asking for more explanation. She insisted she was getting to the answers. So she pressed on with her notes and didn't answer the questions as they were asked.

Unfortunately she never did answer them. She ran out of time once she finally got into the meat which she had been dangling in front of us. Unfortunately, this isn't the lasting impression you want to leave with your audience...that you knew your material but couldn't deliver it...ESPECIALLY when you are given the luxury of 2 ½ hours!

  • Speaking Tip #3 - Solve a Problem or Touch my Emotions

Share your passion and make it ours. Invite us into your story by telling your story. Build a bridge with your words and create a connection.  

I attended a women's conference earlier this year. I have to admit, I was there as much to observe the speaker's delivery as anything else. When it was time for the well-known key note speaker, Karen Kingsbury to be introduced, we were told she had missed her flight due to weather. In her place would be Angie Smith. A low rumble of voices swept the auditorium. Who was Angie Smith?

We were about to find out.

What do you do when you have to fill the shoes of such a well-known author? Poke fun at it. And she did.

Angie's self-deprecating humor about not being as well-recognized as the other speaker was followed by equally self-deprecating mom stories and transparency. Within minutes Angie made us feel she was "one of us" and you could feel the audience collectively pulling for her, laughing with her and loving her...all within fifteen minutes. She touched our emotions.

That's our goal.

Never Quit Learning

It's impossible to know it all. Although I've been in publishing for twenty-five years, it is an ever evolving market that always surprises me with how much I am still learning. You snooze; you lose. You have to keep learning to stay on top of the changes in regards to software, apps, publishing methods and models, social media, etc. If you haven't had a refresher course in some area of expertise that involves your writing, marketing or your genre, then you need to get it in your schedule to stay sharp. It will help keep you up-to-date, fresh and energized.


This isn't necessarily a new app on the market, but it is a fun app for creating text over your photos that you can then post on FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. It's easy to use and better yet it's FREE.

         Iphone users: wordswag

          Android users: piclab - photo editor

These are pretty straight-forward even for non-techy users. Use your photos, selfies, landscape, whatever, add a great quote from your book, announce your next speaking engagement, etc and post.

Then admire and pat yourself on the back.

Haven't attended a writer's conference recently? There's some good ones around. Here's a few to start your research...

Society of Children's book writers and illustrators

Mount Herman Christian Writer's Conference

Colorado Christian Writer's Conference

American Christian Fiction Writers Conference


Karen Hardin - Agent and Marketing Guru
PriorityPR Group & Christian Literary Agency