The One Skill Every Writer Needs to Learn (and it’s not about writing!)

When was the last time you addressed a crowd of people? Or, for that matter, when was the last time you were in the middle of a crowd at a sporting event, concert or a rally?

If your answer is not that often then read on my fellow writer, because the one skill we need to develop is our ability to present ourselves visually and audibly. By the end of January, I will have conducted my third podcast interview and/or panel and well? Third time’s a charm?

The first podcast interview I did was to talk about a setting and game I had been designing at the time. When I say that I could have put your grandmother to sleep I’m being kind. You see, I wasn’t really sure what the best thing was to communicate, so I threw everything out there. Writing promotional material is one thousand times different than speaking it, because you have the chance to read, review and edit what you’re working on. In an interview, you may not have the questions beforehand so it’s even more difficult to think off-the-cuff.

I just finished my second interview today. Although we started out well, we had some technical difficulties which caused me to wander a little bit, wondering if the line was going to cut out on me. This interview was different than the first because in this one — I babbled excitedly. In this case, I was trying to think in layers — these questions were my opinion, but they were also something that I was very passionate about. (i.e. roles of gender in gaming, fantasy tropes, etc.) So instead of being precise and using that word conservation I’m always advocating, I feel as if I babbled incoherently because I couldn’t think fast enough to contain my answers.

Well, I have a third one coming up at the end of the month. I know the topic in advance, and I’m planning on providing links and examples. Having listened to other episodes, I can expect that this show will have very organic, back-and-forth conversation.

The lesson I’ve learned here is: audio interviews and podcasts are harder to prepare for than face-to-face pre-scheduled meetings, panels or speeches. You have to think on your feet and sometimes go beyond the bullet points you’ve written down, and it’s harder to gauge visual cues when there aren’t any to glean. As I continue to move forward with writing I will (no doubt) have more experiences related to podcasting and audio; this medium is something I’m brand new to and I feel as if I’m not very good at it.

When you’re a writer, it is extremely hard to break away from your projects and get that invaluable face-to-face time to ensure you’re staying on top of your verbal communication skills. These skills are part and parcel to representing yourself as a writer, so practice right along with me and let’s ensure that our speaking engagements match our excellent ability to write!

Here are some great articles I’ve found on the topic of improving your communication skills. If you have links, post them in the comments!

Resources if You’re the one Being Interviewed

Resources if You’re Conducting the Interview

2 Responses to The One Skill Every Writer Needs to Learn (and it’s not about writing!)
  1. Preston

    That’s great advice and a helpful set of links. Its similar to advice I shared with people outside the communication field.

    There was a period a couple years ago when I was interviewed on several podcasts. It takes a while to get over being nervous and just enjoy yourself. The more you do the easier it gets. The other thing that helps is a good interviewer. I’ve been interviewed by hosts with mediocre interview skills and by one who I thought was outstanding. He put me at ease and made me feel like he was really listening to my responses rather than waiting for me to finish so he could move on to the next question he’d thought up two weeks earlier.

    One thing that I, as a listener, enjoy is when an interviewee turns some of the questions back on the interviewer and it becomes an actual conversation in which both sides share insights. Some interviewers are caught off guard and don’t know how to respond when you try that approach, though.

    Good luck with the next interview.

  2. RecordForAll

    Great summary, I’ll make sure we point to it when we get forum queries about interviews. Thank you for sharing.



Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

Want to Interview or Hire Me? Send Fan Mail?

Would you like to hire me? Because my projects and manuscripts are in flux, I am always open to discussing new opportunities with publishers and studios. As a full-time writer, I spend a portion of my time seeking new gigs–so don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’re interested, please e-mail me via my Contact Page. I typically reply to work-related e-mails within one-to-two business days.

Want an interview? If you’d like to interview me or request a guest blog post, please connect with me via the contact page, too. Due to time constraints and other communicative concerns, I typically don’t follow up on requests via social media.

Keen on sending fan mail? I am also happy to engage with readers and fans. Please note that I am unable to reply satisfactorily to certain types of queries related to the companies I work for due to the agreements I typically sign. If you have a question about a TV show or a line of books, the best way to get your answer is to contact the studio or publisher directly.

Back to Top