Saturday, May 25, 2013

Entertaining Author Talks

When I first began giving author talks nearly ten years ago - I thought my goal was to inform the audience. Since observing some of New Zealand's best presenters I realised you had to take it a step further. You need to engage your audience by making them laugh, showing them something they haven't seen before, letting them get to know you more, getting the kids up and being part of the performance and wowing them with some props/visuals.

It took a while for me to include all those elements in my talks but I believe I'm getting there. My PowerPoint presentation shows inside my books, includes quizzes, and images. It helps me remember where I'm up to in my talk - so I now don't need any cue cards to remind me what I'm doing next.

I encourage selected children to participate in a role play wearing props that make the other kids laugh. Another group of children help me enact a scene with puppets.

I get kids guessing who the famous New Zealander is from their baby photograph, who the heads of government are from their caricatures, and quiz them about some of my titles and reward them with bookmarks. This encourages children to interact with my talk.

I show the kids a photo of myself when I was twelve and tell them why it is relevant to who I am as a writer. Sometimes I show pictures of my travels or home life. I link this to having a dream and if you're hard working and determined enough - you can make it happen.

The kids also see sneak previews of new books coming out. At the moment I'm showing them the digital remake of my book 'Rangitoto' and a book trailer for a picture book coming out next year.

In the early days I was very nervous when giving talks. After giving hundreds of talks I now look forward to them. I put on voices, strut my stuff, and enjoy watching kids' faces light up.

Find more information about my author talks and workshops go to: or email me directly: mariagill at

I look forward to meeting you one day at a school visit!