Sunday, March 8, 2009

Book Talking

Yesterday was the last class session for LIS 569 (Book Lust 101) with Nancy Pearl. It was a fantastic class, by the way--if you haven't taken it yet, you should definitely try to at some point.

Anyway, one of the things we learned in the class was the importance of book talking in readers' advisory. I'm not all that comfortable with public speaking in general, and book talking is (in my opinion) even more difficult than "regular" public speaking (giving formal presentations and stuff like that) because you don't want to sound like you're giving a speech; the goal is to sound as natural as possible--as if you're just having a conversation with the audience.

During the class when we first began discussing book talks, Nancy gave us "17 things to think about"--useful hints and tips for doing book talks. Here they are (somewhat paraphrased):

  1. Before you start talking, take a deep breath and let it out. (Believe it or not, this is really important and it does help.)
  2. Smile. :)
  3. Do the book talk in a way you feel comfortable. There is no right or wrong "style" to give a book talk. The most important thing is to be yourself.
  4. Show enthusiasm! You are trying to "sell" the book to your audience. On a related note, don't book talk something you didn't really like or that you haven't read yet. The audience can tell you're faking it.
  5. Try to get to a point where you're not reading from your notes. Speak as naturally as possible; have a conversation with the audience. If you have notes, keep them short. Know how you're going to start and end the talk, but try not to have a script.
  6. Don't overprepare. If you try to memorize your entire book talk, you'll either sound fake or freak out if you lose your place.
  7. Maintain eye contact.
  8. Ignore the distractions in the audience (people texting, sleeping, etc.).
  9. When you're preparing your book talk, ask yourself what the "takeaway" of the book is. What do you want the audience to remember? Make sure there's at least one detail for them to grab onto. And don't put in minor or irrelevant details. You don't want your book talk to feel cluttered.
  10. Try to give the audience a sense of who you are and what you like to read.
  11. Use language that the audience would use. This goes back to being "conversational" in your book talks.
  12. Keep it short. Don't talk about the plot for more than 1 or 2 sentences. And don't give away plot twists or the exciting stuff.
  13. Try to convey what your own feelings were when you were reading the book. People like to hear about how you personally connected with the book.
  14. If you are good at reading aloud, incorporating a passage into your book talk is a good way to hook the audience. But if you're not good at it, or you're too nervous, just don't do it.
  15. Another way to do a hook is to start with a question. "Have you ever wondered . . . " Other good phrases: "Imagine . . . " or "If you like to read ____, here's another . . . "
  16. Don't make your closing line "I really loved this book." Find an unusual way of ending the talk that brings everything together.
  17. If you're book talking a lot of books at once, have a handout with a list of the books with space underneath each one for notes.

1 comment:

CactusCorner said...

My friend and I are giving a presentation in Atlanta called Public Speaking for Shy Writers and we are putting together the accompanying book. Your blog post hits the nail on the head with giving a blog talk. I will provide the link and thanks to you for this.