Ester Benjamin Shifren, author of the powerful historical memoir, “Hiding in a Cave of Trunks: A Prominent Jewish Family’s Century in Shanghai and Internment in a WWII POW Camp,” will present “How to be a Winning Speaker” at the next monthly meeting of the San Fernando Valley branch of the California Writers Club. The meeting will begin at 1 p.m., on Saturday, April 6 on the Motion Picture and TV Fund campus, 23388 Mulholland Drive in Woodland Hills, in the Saban Community Room.
It all begins with “keeping the presentation simple, because it’s not an English lesson or smart show-off of ability,” the internationally known Shifren pointed out. “People want to see you and hear you. As the saying goes, it’s all about presentation, and that especially holds true for authors who are trying to publish, sell and publicize their books. Without effective presentation skills, authors will be at a definite disadvantage. The techniques I will teach can also work wonders in individual settings.”
One of the most glaring mistakes that writers make comes down to the basics. “Anyone who writes a book and doesn’t develop a theme to speak about can say goodbye to the best marketing opportunity,” Shifren said.
Shifren, also an artist, critic, speaker and entertainer, will explain the do’s and don’ts of effectively communicating with audiences. “It’s important to engage by making occasional eye contact,” she emphasized. “If possible, avoid reading from a scripted lecture. That is a certain way to lose the connection and attention of your audience. Say less if necessary, but make your words count! Use cards with reminders so you won’t forget the essence of your talk. That’s why PowerPoint and Keynote presentations are so valuable!”
She reminds speakers about another basic that is often forgotten. “It is also very important to smile occasionally, to show you’re human.”
Though indispensable in this day and age, relying solely on Internet to get the word out is not enough, she said.
Shifren will ask audience members to write a brief presentation about their book that they can then read aloud to those in attendance. “The brief opening statement should engage the audience immediately and hold their attention. It should be practiced ahead of time – it doesn’t happen by accident,” Shifren added. “The pitch to get gigs should also be practiced until it sounds natural and confident.”
Before Shifren’s presentation, author Rita Keeley-Brown (“Good Luck Mrs. Brown”) will conduct a 20-minute workshop entitled “Just Write.” Writers will be asked to choose from a series of at least four prompts and are given seven minutes to write a story or poetry. They are then given an opportunity to share their stories/prose with either the persons sitting at the same table or the audience.
“Memory of a life experience or a thought can be triggered by art, words, smell, or sounds can trigger a recall of something familiar to you,” Brown said. “How many times have you thought or said, “That reminds me of…” and you want to tell someone or write about it?
“In a nonjudgmental atmosphere, ideas come pouring out. In a group, sharing what you have written is understood by all that this is not a polished write. This is a quick tell of what popped into your mind from that prompt. The comments from reading your rough draft aloud are always encouraging and you get to hear what others wrote – a positive and fun experience.”
The California Writers Club welcomes writers in all genres, and at all stages of their careers. Monthly meetings are held on the first Saturday. To attend workshops, programs and other events, or to learn more about events and activities for writers in the San Fernando Valley, visit www.cwc-sfv.org. Guests who attend the monthly meeting are asked to donate $10.