These days, if you’re an author, you’re a speaker. (That notion definitely pertains to business authors and probably most non-fiction authors as well. Fiction authors, well, not yet, though I know a writer of young adult novels who makes most of his income speaking.) And if you’re going to speak, you want to connect; and one real good way of making a connection is to get the audience involved beyond just sitting in their chairs. Here’s a link to Nick Morgan’s podcast about how to engage your audience when you’re giving a talk. And he doesn’t mean Q & A. (As he says, that’s so 20th century.) Well worth listening to. Eight minutes; four ways to get audience to do more than just listen. (Nick is an author, communication theorist, and coach. If you’re going to speak, and I think we’ve already ascertained that you are, you should check out his website: publicwords.com.)
One way to engage your audience not covered by Nick is singing. I recently attended a book reading at the local Brookline Booksmith for Caitlin Shetterly who read from her book Made for You and Me: Going West, Going Broke, Finding Home. After she finished reading, she handed out photocopied lyrics to Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” and asked us all to sing along. She references the song in her book, but the version we sang included a more political verse about private property that did not make it into the popular version that we all know so well from our grade-school days. To sing along with friends, neighbors, and book lovers was really phenomenal—and completely unexpected, thus memorable. How many book readings that you’ve been to have stuck in your mind? Not many, I’d guess. Want to have a memorable speech, talk, book reading? Engage with your audience.
Information from wikipedia about “This Land is Your Land.”