In a previous post, Lorna talked about attending a Chamber of Commerce networking breakfast at which she was forced to give an off-the-cuff presentation. Now she has begun to deliver free one-hour presentations to writers, something that requires an extra level of confidence.
I AM NOT SHY, EXACTLY. But I do not particularly enjoy being the focus of attention, and I hate having my photo taken. But over the past year of running my editorial business, I’ve been forced to dig deep and overcome my introvert tendencies, because I know that visibility is essential to building a client base for both my own business and the Embark Editorial Agency.
Having attended many writing groups as a writer, I found one that has a guest-speaker program and decided to offer to give a presentation about copyediting. When the offer was gladly accepted, I was committed, and I was determined not to chicken out.
I created a 60-minute presentation entitled “Copy Editors: Nitpickers or Lifesavers?” The objective is to show writers that copyediting is about so much more than spelling and grammar. The agenda of the presentation looks like this:
Being an introvert, I want to do as little talking as possible, but I also feel that it is important that I don't simply give a lecture. So, at every point in the agenda, I ask plenty of questions to draw as much information out of the writers as possible. I also break up the presentation midway through with a pop quiz consisting of 10 sentences that contain a hard-to-spot error. The fact that nobody (yet) has got anywhere close to getting all 10 correct helps to show them they need a copy editor more than they thought!
If you’re thinking about doing a presentation of your own, you might want to consider the following:
Worth the Effort?
My first presentation took place in December. It wasn’t the best time of year (too close to the holiday) or the best time (Friday, 6:30 p.m.); nevertheless, there were 15 people in attendance. As a result, two writers followed up on the offer of a free 5000-word edit from Embark Editorial Agency. And one of those subsequently contracted me to do a developmental edit on his novel. And 15 writers now know about the range of editorial services I offer, and they might think of me for future projects.
The second presentation (to another group) happened on March 18. Although 10 people had signed up, only 3 attended. I adapted the previous presentation on the spot and delivered a more intimate, conversational event. Was I disappointed? No. As an introvert, I was a bit relieved! Besides, nothing is a waste of time. On this occasion, I talked to three wonderful writers and got another opportunity to build my confidence, and the organizer was very keen to get me back again.
I’ve only done two presentations so far, but I aim to offer them to more writers’ groups in the Los Angeles area, of which there are many, including groups for memoirists, bloggers, and fiction writers.
I encourage you all to try this, even if you only do it once. If you’re a writer, you’ll probably be involved in writers groups already. If you’re not, check out Meetup.com for groups in your area and make an effort to join them. I know from experience that it’s hard for introverts, but we all have to put the needs of our fledgling editing careers first by getting ourselves out there. And who knows? Perhaps you might even enjoy it!
For those of you who need some more advice about how to network, check out this blog post from Copyediting.com: Networking for Introverts: 9 Tips To Use at Your Next Event.