Danielle Douglas

A native of Colorado, Mrs. Yolanda M. Johnson-Bryant, currently resides in the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina, with her husband. Mrs. Bryant is a published author, freelance writer, novelist, editor, ghostwriter and a literary and entrepreneurial advocate. She is the founder and owner of Literary Wonders! and Bryant Consulting. She is acting editor for AMAG For the Conscious Professional magazine, and part-time columnist for RAW Sistaz Literary Services and other literary venues. Mrs. Johnson-Bryant is a member of The Nussbaum Entrepreneurial Center for Women, Women of Leadership and Learning (WELL Women), Toastmasters and conducts workshops and classes on writing and entrepreneurship. She is also a member of several reading and writing groups.

Bryant Consulting

Using Your Gift of Gab

The gift of gab certainly is not a new expression. Its definition is “the facility of speaking eloquently or profusely” (Oxford Dictionary, 1998). Humanity has utilized it since the creation of the universe. Adam and Eve used it to try to get out of their punishment for eating of the forbidden tree. Fagin used it to describe Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist. Men and women continuously use it when trying to impress one another. Preachers use it when trying to convey a biblical message. Presidential candidates use it to gain votes, and it is no different when an author tries to communicate a message or tell a story. The gift of gab has always proved to work and shows no sign of dying.

Even though a story is written rather than spoken, it is still a form of gab. We spend time honing our craft and skills so that we can put our best foot forward. Why stop there? It is also important for authors to home in on their speaking skills. After all, when readers or potential readers ask you to tell them a little about your work, you want to be able engage your audience, whether you are speaking to one person or one thousand. You should be able to articulate your message. Not being able to do so may deter a potential buyer from purchasing your work.

Successful speaking skills can be an asset to any career, and that rings true for writers. Being a great speaker can lead you further into your writing career than you had imagined, even allowing you to be a motivational speaker of sorts. People love to hear a good, inspiring story to get them going, or to give them that little push. They are going to hear it from someone, so why not you?

You can improve and use your speaking skills many ways. Learning and utilizing some of these suggestions make you not only a better speaker but also a better writer. In addition, you may even be able to add speaker to your resume.

Practice makes perfect, so never pass up an opportunity to speak. Write a short speech or pitch and say it to yourself in a front of a mirror until you are relaxed and comfortable. Then, record yourself. Take your practice sessions one step farther by reciting your speech in front of your spouse, children, or other family and friends. Listen to other speeches, great and small. A speaker who does not listen to others’ speeches is like an author who does not read.

One suggested organization for honing your speaking skills is Toastmasters. A popular organization, several Toastmasters clubs may be in your community. Toastmasters International (www.toastmasters.org) is an international nonprofit organization that provides its members with the tools and forums to become better speakers and leaders. Mention Toastmasters to just about anyone and you are sure to get a positive response.

Attending a Toastmasters meeting is simple. If you are not sure where Toastmasters might meet in your neighborhood, simply go to their Website and input your zip code. You will find several meeting locations to choose from. Visitors may attend Toastmasters at no charge. Should you choose to join, there is a minimal annual fee—money well spent. Most Toastmasters meetings are structured and they last approximately one hour. To find out more about Toastmasters, please visit their Website.

Conducting community workshops on your writing craft can also give you an opportunity to utilize your gift of gab. Start by contacting your local school district, recreational centers, or public libraries, and verbalize your interest in conducting a workshop or seminar for their organization. By providing this service, not only do you gain speaking experience, but also you gain teaching experience and, depending on the entity, income. Check your local community colleges, since they may be looking for ideas and persons to complete their creative writing courses or other curriculum.

Many organizations hold annual events, such as conferences, which may give an author a chance to be a featured speaker. Entrepreneurial conferences, literary conferences, festivals, and women’s conferences are great sources and provide opportunities for speaking. Do your research and contact the appropriate person, again, expressing your desire to speak at their event. Because these events are annual, planning is usually completed well in advance, so it might be essential to contact the appropriate person early on.

At the least, excellent speaking skills will open many doors for writers, giving them more opportunities to grow their brands, create more exposure, and gain experience. The possibilities are endless. Remember, never limit yourself. You are your brand, and you should capitalize on every available opportunity.