The trick to talks

I've been musing on the trick to writing and giving a talk, as I do some preparation for speaking to the Exeter University Book Group on Thursday (24th May).

It's a question I'm often asked.  And for me, there are two answers - one more complex, one very simple.

The intricate one first.  It's about the preparation.

I think you've got to get plenty of variety into a talk - some humour, a bit of seriousness, some poignancy, a few anecdotes, and also an insight into what you do and why. 

It all helps to keep the audience engaged, stop them switching off.  And that mix of textures can only come from planning the thing, and doing it well.  

I always put plenty of work in beforehand - usually for each hour of a session, there are at least two, perhaps three of preparation.  When I'm teaching writing, it's even more - often four or five hours of preparation for each one of delivery. 

The second part of the answer, the simple one, is this - it's about speaking from the heart.  If you're talking about a subject, it's because it interests you, or you have some considerable knowledge of it, or preferably both.  So, don't be afraid to let it go, the reason it appeals to you. 

One thing we're all interested in about this curious game of life is other people.  And a route into someone else, when they give away a part of themselves, is invariably intriguing.

It sounds easy to do, but we're modest and reserved, and so it's not quite that straightforward, but... have a go and give it a try.  It can be very refreshing and rewarding, both for the speaker and audience.

If you're interested in coming along to the talk, there are more details on the News and Events page -  along with others I'm doing this summer. It promises to be a busy one, happily.   As Oscar Wilde might have said, there's only one thing worse than being very busy...

Finally, a song for this ramble, and as we're talking about the heart, I'm going back to the 1980s and ABC's All of My Heart.  Some great lyrics, and taken from a very fine album (The Lexicon of Love), which is well worth a listen if you haven't tried it and fancy something new.