Saturday, 29 August 2015

Preparation is the key!

Happy Saturday wishes to you! 

As well as doing a spot of lawn grass cutting today, I'm also writing. I've already published my every second Saturday post at Writing Wranglers and Warriors where my title is "An author talking…and a conundrum" 

Since I've posed a question there I'm REBLOGGING the post here in the hopes that some reader of this blog might come up with good solutions.
"An author talking…and a conundrum

That makes a change from an author writing but actually, there’s still a lot of writing and thinking involved. As some readers of this blog may have guessed, I’m a bit obsessed by the Ancient Roman Invasion of Caledonia, and in particular their temporary occupation of Aberdeenshire, the part of Scotland where I currently live.

For almost a year, I’ve been going forth to sell my books at local Craft Fairs and larger local events with historical significance like the Aboyne Highland Games and theatrical spectaculars at local Scottish Castles. Selling books is prime but part of my strategy in going out into the public arena has also been to advertise myself as available for ‘Author Talks’, the aim for more public awareness of me as an author, and to physically promote my writing. I’ve had some fantastic conversations with people over the selling table about the Romans in Scotland, some of whom have bought my historical novels and some who haven’t. Partial success there!  However, one-to-one conversations aren’t quite the same as public speaking.

Since first being published in 2011, I’ve done quite a few informal talks to small audiences about my own pathway to writing and about my books. These audiences have mainly been in local public libraries and at clubs predominantly attended by women, the audience size typically around 10-20 attendees. Now, as a result of my bookselling endeavours, I’ve been asked to do talks to larger audiences. For these I’ve been asked to focus more on my historical research of the Ancient Roman Invasion, with just a tad inserted about my historically based novels. My preparation for these needs a fresh new approach.

Here’s where the thinking comes in and a first conundrum!

I’m really interested in the history but how to enthuse a larger audience is a fine challenge. In my head, I can easily imagine ten thousand Roman soldiers tramping through the countryside but making others see those images is something else.

The typical length of talk is around 40 minutes with a question/ answer part taking the event to around an hour.

Conundrum again. What to include and what TO LEAVE OUT!

As a practising teacher, I created PowerPoint presentations but that’s not happened since around 2008. I’m not at all familiar with the technology people use now and my current laptop doesn’t have PowerPoint loaded on it. I’ll be able to get around the issue of illustrative material for the smaller venues by creating a ‘flip chart’ set of illustrations—but that won’t work for the audience of near 50 attendees. I’m not sure yet how much of a fee might be paid and for the library ones I know I’m not expecting any payment art all, so cost should be a factor in what I prepare.

What should I do?
  • Should I create a basic talk built around 2 different sets of illustrative material using-
 1 - physical illustrations which will work with a small seated group
 2 – use overhead projector images?
  • Should I spend time creating something like a PowerPoint presentation and hope that the technology in each ‘new’ venue can be made to work properly?
  • Should I just talk with no illustrations? 
I know what I’m aiming to prepare but I’m also thinking that some of you who have ventured into the larger ‘talk’ situation might be able to advise me.

What do you think you would aim for if you were at the planning stage of a set of talks to different audience sizes? What technology does the current public speaker use?

If you have any suggestions, your comments will be welcome.


  1. Hi Nancy,
    Diana Gabaldon, author of Outlander series of books and TV shows, enquired about you when adding you to our common family trees. Perhaps you could share these thoughts with her via email or publisher.
    Duncan MacDonald

    1. Hello Duncan. That's extremely interesting. I'll see what I can do! :-)


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