Preparing your book reading, presentation

If you’re a little anxious about speaking in front of a crowd for a book presentation, that’s understandable; public speaking is one of the biggest fears people have. But with a little preparation – and after you’ve made a few public appearances – you’ll soon find that it’s actually a lot of fun!

Preparing for a book presentation generally involves two components: writing the presentation and then practicing it.

Writing the presentation
Usually the book reading follows a simple format: introductions by a host; a few introductory words by you; you reading your book aloud; an audience Q&A with you; and then the book signing. You’ll want to select in advance which passage you read.

A presentation that doesn’t involve a reading is much like an expository speech: an introduction by the host; an introduction by you; three or four major points that you cover in detail; a conclusion in which you summarize your points and thank the audience; a Q&A session. This means you’ll need to prepare a speech and possibly a PowerPoint presentation or slide show.

A meet-and-greet and a simple book signing generally have no structure – you just sit and wait for others to pass by. Still, you’ll want to think of a short pitch that you can use to introduce yourself and your books as people stop by.

Don’t wait until the night before to write up your presentation! Rushing your work on it often results in a mediocre performance and that some key points will be forgotten. In addition, writing the presentation a few weeks in advance means you’ll have plenty of time revise and practice it.

Practice the presentation
Practice reading your passage for a book reading or your presentation speech out loud at least a couple of times. You don’t have to memorize the text, just familiarize yourself with it.

Make sure the presentation doesn’t go longer than the time allotted to you. For a book reading, 10-15 minutes usually is enough; if reading a short story from an anthology, just go with a single story. For a formal speech, you’ll need to see how long you have, but if the workshop is about 50 minutes long, you’ll want to speak for about 35-40 minutes. This will allow some time for questions and any introductions by a host. Have in the back of your mind some additional material that can be presented in case there are only a couple of or even no questions.

In addition, think about how you’ll answer any questions you might be asked. Begin by attending a few book readings or presentations by other authors to get a feel for what kind of questions your audience might ask. Then think of some answers to them, as they relate to your book. After you’ve done a few book readings, you’ll discover that the same questions keep popping up.

Practicing in front of a friend also can be beneficial. Use their constructive criticism to perfect your presentation.