treadmillHere’s a question for you: imagine you were given the chance to talk about a subject dear to your heart to a group of people who, although probably somewhat interested in that topic, most likely don’t possess the same amount of ardor for it that you do. How would you prepare for it? That’s my challenge this week, as I put my thoughts together for a presentation to Stetson University Lifelong Learning students in Celebration, Florida.

I’m a little concerned about timing. I tend to throw everything I know about a subject into a presentation and run out of time. Speaker’s notes are different than written pages for the reader.  It takes more time to convey the same amount of information that could be read. I’ll probably have to edit, cut some great stuff. You’d think, since this is one of the main processes a writer goes through, this would be old hat. But no. It’s tough. I want to share everything I know about writing romance novels, and there just won’t be time.   warmup 2

So how did I approach this dilemma? The first thing I should have done was obtain some data about what my audience wants to hear, but that wasn’t possible in this situation. So the next best thing was to set three objectives: to say a little about the romance novel industry, to provide a basic introduction to the elements of romance novels, and to share a little about my journey to becoming a published author. Next, I listed all the features of each, using PowerPoint to organize my thoughts, which I’ll also utilize to make the presentation. As I developed these notes, I identified the data I still needed to either find in my files or otherwise research.

One thing I learned in my job as a Human Resources Management Specialist who made various presentations over the years, prepare early, so that I’m not racing against time at the end to put my thoughts together. The basic slides have been done for several days.

atriumTwo days ago, I met with the school’s A-V specialist to see how my colors look in the venue where I’ll speak. It’s in an atrium with two upper floor walkways surrounding it, i.e., a sound gulper. The screen is attached to a slightly concave wall, which means the slides may be distorted. Good to work with those contingencies in advance.

Photo by Leslie Sloan

Photo by Leslie Sloan

And now, as I take my walk on the treadmill, I am putting it all together in my head. I need a great hook to get my audience into it immediately. Again, that’s what romance writers do. Maybe I could go back in time and describe how I got interested in romance novels? Maybe. But I want to appeal to my audience’s interests, not mine. What would snag their interest right away? Something about them. Something they can readily relate to. Maybe how they fell in love?

Gotta keep walking. It hasn’t gelled yet.

By the way, And He Cooks Too officially launches this coming Friday. Check  the And He Cooks Too page on this website for buy info.