Top Toastmistress Tells Secret Of How She Prepares For Presentations

Patricia Fry, director of the Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network of Ojai, Calif., an award-winning Toastmistress who became the first woman to keynote the Middle Eastern Toastmasters Club in Dubai, will offer tips in Atlanta and Nashville.
By: Anvil Publishers, Inc.
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Spring Book Show
Patricia Fry
Public Speaking
Anvil Publishers


March 4, 2008 - PRLog -- OJAI, Calif. - “Public speaking is a common activity for authors,” says Patricia Fry, executive director of the Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network (SPAWN).  
   “We go out and speak to our peers, members of civic organizations, corporate employees, church groups, writers’ club members and others gathered at offices, rented halls, libraries, schools and even private homes. Our goal is to inform and/or entertain…oh yes, and sell books,” she says.
   Fry admits that on occasion, when she’s speaking to authors and hopeful authors, “I just wing it. Well, I’ve been talking about publishing for so long that it kind of comes natural. The problem with that arises when there is a strict time element. I can go on and on and on about publishing, book promotion, writing a book proposal. And just try to stop me from talking when it’s question and answer time. I’m not happy until I’ve answered every writer’s question and quelled every publishing curiosity.”
   Patricia knows what she’s talking about. The author of more than 25 books on communication and writing, she attends a half-dozen book festivals each year and is guest speaker at anywhere from five to 10 writing/publishing-related events annually. In May of 2006, she was the first woman ever invited to give the keynote speech at a Middle Eastern Toastmasters Convention. The convention was held in Dubai, where she spoke to 800 Toastmasters from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qa'tar.
   Fry offered some new tips while working on a one-hour speech to present at the Spring Book Show in Atlanta March 29 – a presentation she plans to use again at a Borders bookstore in Nashville a few days later.
   “It’s my favorite speech on the two steps to publishing success,” Fry said. “So, if it’s my favorite speech, why am I working on it? I have a problem using the same speech over and over again. I always change, tweak, tickle, modify and adjust the speech before the next event and then I do a lot of improvising - making me wonder why I even bothered writing and rehearsing it.”
   Everyone prepares for a public speaking gig in different ways, says Fry. “I know one woman who writes the speech down after learning it. She creates it in her mind and begins practicing it before she commits it to paper. I typically write the speech and then I print it out and take it with me on my daily walks. I go over and over it in an attempt to familiarize myself with the content and the order.
   Each day for a couple of weeks, I come home and revise the speech. Once the speech is set, I create a skeleton from it. I remove all but the first six or eight words of each line, for example. I work with the speech in this form for a week or so (depending on how much time I have before the event). And then I bring in the index cards.”
   It’s at this point, says Fry, that she reduces the speech to a barebones outline form that will fit on a few small index cards and this is what she carries with her on her walks. Her goal is to recite the speech without using the index card prompts and within the time allotment for at least 10 days before the event.    “Of course,” she says, “while the speech travels along the same path every time, it comes out sounding a little different. It’s not exactly a canned speech and it doesn’t sound like one.”
   Once she meets her audience and finds out something about them, she might adjust the speech in a direction slightly different than she had planned. “The rehearsal was not for naught,” she says. “At that point, my planned speech becomes a crutch that I can use if I need/want to and discard if I so choose.
   “I’m also presenting a 3-hour seminar at the Spring Book Show in Atlanta on March 29,” Fry said. “But I won’t be stressing my brain by attempting to memorize it. Oh no. I’ve written a lesson plan, but the seminar will be pretty much student directed. I have the information and I’ve created some great opportunities for audience participation. But the students will set the pace for the seminar. My job is to make sure they get everything they came for.”
   Her partner in that workshop will be award-winning Atlanta book doctor Bobbie Christmas.
   You can learn more about Patricia’s Atlanta presentations at the Anvil Publishers Web sites, or


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