Eloisa James Gives Five Tips For Surviving Your First Conference Presentation

You probably already love Eloisa James for her awesome, fun historical romances — her latest, RT Top Pick! Three Weeks with Lady X, is out this week — but did you also know she’s amazing at presenting conference workshops? It’s true! Your RT Web Team are unabashed fans. As the RT Convention and our time in NOLA quickly approaches, we asked Eloisa for some tips for all you first-time presenters prepping your workshops now. Take it away, Eloisa!

The cover of Three Weeks with lady X

Writers are famously solitary by nature, but these days, even the most hermit-like of authors must force herself out of the cave. Authors need a platform, a presence on the internet and at conferences. Giving a presentation can be frightening, but with the right preparation, it can also be lots of fun and result in a burst of enthusiastic readers. Here are my five tips for acing your workshop.

1. Figure out what you know.

When I began writing romance, I knew nothing about creative writing, so I soaked up advice from writers such as Nora Roberts and Linda Lael Miller. Now I pay it forward by sharing what I’ve learned in the course of writing twenty-some books. Make a list of what you’ve learned since the very first time you typed Chapter One. You’ll surprise yourself!

2. Organize that knowledge.

Audiences can get overwhelmed by a flood of information, so your workshop should focus on a narrow aspect of creative writing. You might structure a craft workshop around six guidelines for creating an alpha hero, for example. Or a marketing workshop around the four most important types of social media. Make a one-page outline of your ideas that is easily visible at a glance. Plan an opening salvo and, equally importantly, the last thing you’ll say before turning to audience questions.

3. Assemble your version of a power suit.

Wearing the right clothes will give you confidence and authority you might not feel inside. There’s no need to wear high heels, but it’s best not to slouch in with stains on your shirt or the girls on full display either. Your audience needs to respect you and your craft, and business casual is the easiest way to start on the right foot.

4. Expect the worst; hope for the best.

My first presentation at the RWA was harrowing. I hadn’t planned an exit strategy, so I hung onto the podium and babbled. I survived, and so did my career. Try visualizing the worst possible presentation, and live with that image a moment. Is a mediocre performance going to influence your career? Absolutely not! Now visualize yourself giving a keynote to wild applause. You can do it!

5. Enjoy yourself.

In my experience, audiences of romance writers and/or readers are wonderfully appreciative, polite, and just plain fun to talk to. Think of them as your friends, and all will be well.

Thanks so much for sharing, Eloisa! Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Three Weeks with Lady X, available in stores and online today. And if you’ll be with us in NOLA, check out where Eloisa will be sharing her smarts by clicking here