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We had a great show featuring Martha Lanaghen with tips for how authors can be more effective public speakers.

About our guest: Martha Lanaghen has more than 25 years of experience in sales, marketing and multi-site operations, including more than 10 years in senior executive roles for major corporations. A couple years ago, she gave up the corporate world, and became an entrepreneur by starting her own consulting firm – The Sparrow Group, where she specializes in improving learning experiences for students and audiences all over the world.

As part of her practice, Martha has trained thousands of faculty and staff to be more engaging speakers and presenters, and to engage students to not only improve the classroom experience, but also to improve learning outcomes. This expertise has also benefited her public speaking clients who use Martha’s tools to increase sales, get repeat engagements, and, of course, make their presentations more entertaining and memorable for everyone involved.

Martha is based in Boulder, Colorado where she lives with her husband, a herd of children, a dog and some fish. In addition to recently discovering entrepreneurship as a passion, Martha loves to cook – who knows, one day you may see her on the Food Network!

You can follow Martha on

• LinkedIn:

• Twitter: @sparrowgrp or @greatspeech

• Email:

• Web:

Steps to handle speaking jitters

Silhouette of a businessman speaking from a po...

Image via Wikipedia

1. Write the speech

2. Convert the speech into a bullet point outline with key phrases to remind you of what to cover

3. Practice the speech and get feedback from a trusted source or sources

4. Start small – speak to the Kiwanis or Rotary Club in your town for instance – these smaller venues help build confidence and give you a feel for the kinds of questions to expect from an audience

In addition:

Visualize success

Have plenty of water

Account for your travel – make sure you get enough rest, enough to eat, etc. prior to speaking

When you speak

PowerPoint slide

Image by Travelin' Librarian via Flickr

* Start your presentation with something really memorable: a story or anecdote that you can find a way to tie to your audience

* Avoid PowerPoint – it is a killer. Martha calls it “Death by PowerPoint.”

You will be a more engaging speaker without PowerPoint. If you do use PowerPoint think very purposefully about what you’re doing. If you’re using slides for cues, ask for a cocktail table instead that you can stand behind and have your notes on. This way you can be more engaged with your audience instead of looking back at a screen with your slides.

Only use PowerPoint if it increases the learning of and value to your audience.

Props, however, are a great way to get attention.

Classic mistakes speakers make

Pic - audience listening

Image via Wikipedia

Martha’s favorite mistake is when somebody starts a presentation with “hi, I’m so and so and I’m going to talk about my book…” this allows people in the audience to tune out.

Common myths include believing that you have to start in the front of the room; start in the middle or the back or from the side and tell a story.

Tailor your presentation to your audience. It’s extremely important to note something about your audience and to incorporate that into your storytelling. Help create commonality with the audience. The more your audience can identify with you the more likely they are to buy your book.

Time your speech. When you practice it, practice your speech out of order and make sure you know how long it takes.

What are the three or four things you want someone to learn from your presentation? You might be one of a few speakers, and the speaker before you may go long; if you know your key points you can adjust your speech to make it shorter and still get your points across.

To-Do List

Image by jordan clarke via Flickr

In handouts, give people space to write things down – short term and long term action items and also miscellaneous things … then it doesn’t consume their energy because they can write it down and they can focus on the speaker. Speakers can also review the short and long term action items with their audience. It’s a great way to reinforce your message.

The ‘Fab Five’

These are the elements your presentation should have to be really memorable:

* A grand opening

* Humor – because people remember humor

* A compelling story – sales is theater, the more you can tell a story, the better your sales will be

* Something surprising or unexpected (may vary with your audience)

* A takeaway or action item for the audience

* A grand closing – grabs attention and reinforces your message

Book sales without the hard sell


Image by shutterhacks via Flickr

Get others to help you sell your book (then it doesn’t feel like sales). For instance, provide the person who invited you to the event with an advance copy, and then he or she can talk about your book to the audience.

Or, tell a story about a conversation you had with someone who read your book (if it’s relevant to your audience).

Also, what people say about your book online can be turned into comments applicable to your audience – through your social media presence, excerpts online or your blog. Use free tools to attract your audience to your website and then offer them option to buy your book. Think about how you can build value to your audience, get them to your website – and who knows what else you might be able to sell!

Get invited to speak again

Getting asked to return starts before you get to the event. Plan well ahead of time, hold a confirmation call with the event organizer to go over details in advance, and tailor your speech to your audience because people will remember that. Think about an appropriate gift. Send the organizer a copy of your book ahead of time.

Thank You Note 3 of 3

Image by LilyWhitesParty via Flickr

After the event send the organizer a handwritten thank-you note, and mention things that were take-aways or learning for you from the event. And don’t hesitate to ask for the opportunity to return; suggest additional topics you can discuss with this group or how you can help the organization.

This “speaker checklist” will help you land, organize and have successful speaking events that will earn you an invitation to return:

Download the full show at:


Upcoming Episode:

Please join us Nov. 15 – How and Where to Sell Your Self-Published Book

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