Combo Skills: Writing + Public Speaking (Part 1)

This is the first part of a series of articles I’m calling “Combo Skills” for writers.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the importance of combining different abilities to improve our writing style. The more I observe certain trends, the more I convince myself that it’s necessary to go beyond a pen and a piece of paper.

This first article focuses on public speaking.

I’m noticing a trend with some of my favourite writers: they are also wonderful speakers.

I love finding videos of them when they are invited to speak at a conference, when they’re interviewed or when they themselves produce their own podcasts.

Public speaking is certainly a scary thought. Right now, you’re probably thinking to yourself: “I’d rather type words instead of standing in front of an audience. I’m a writer!”

Today, I’d like to challenge that idea. There’s two writers in particular I’d like to mention as an example: Joanna Penn and Austin Kleon. Both happen to be my favourite people on the Internet. Whenever I observe how they express themselves verbally, I can’t help but think “if they can do it, I can do it too.”

Joanna has spoken at public events and currently maintains a successful YouTube channel. Most of the time, she interviews other creatives to learn about their experience with the publishing industry; other times, it’s just herself speaking in front of the camera while providing advice for writers.

I love how well she expresses herself. Talking to a camera is a weird experience, but she does it so naturally and always keeps a positive tone.

Austin is constantly invited to conferences in different cities to share his ideas on creative processes. His input resonates with experienced or aspiring artists. Aside from those opportunities, he’s also interviewed by podcasters who love picking his brain.

When he’s on stage, he’s so confident and engaging you wish he didn’t stop speaking.

Joanna and Austin master words when writing and speaking. Isn’t that a super combo? After giving it some thought, here’s why us writers should consider public speaking as part of our abilities to tell stories:

No one would ever explain your creative work better than yourself

Only you can describe what it takes to write a short story or an entire novel with the unique characters you created.

Only you can explain what made you start crafting that story in the first place. People will be curious about your views on your own work, and that includes podcasters, bloggers, and at times, major media outlets. It wouldn’t be the same if somebody else spoke on your behalf. Sooner or later, you’ll have to talk to the world and tell them why the things you do are wonderful.

Speaking is an expansion of your writing

Who says that this isn’t a great exercise to develop your stories. What if your own speeches lead to ideas for dialogues in your next creative piece? Speaking is like writing out loud, after all. It helps you being fluent with words.

Words are essential to us, and so is confidence. Overcoming scenic panic can unlock doors you didn’t know were available for you. It’s important to keep in mind that, as much as writing is a solitary activity, connecting with others is key to continue learning and stay inspired.

What are your thoughts?

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