If you ever have the opportunity and the privilege to read your work to a live audience, DO IT.
There’s a transformation that occurs when you read your work out loud. The work takes on new dimensions both for the reader and the writer.
Public readings are a good way to make the writing life less solitary, to connect directly with the audience and actually witness the reactions that you could only imagine while writing the piece.
Now that I’ve persuaded you that live readings are wonderful, here are a few distilled tips from Ordinary Genius by Kim Addonizio to help you prepare.
Think of the reading as a performance. If you’re not engaged by your work and the reading of it, the audience won’t be either.
Time yourself. Less is better than wearing out your welcome.
Practice. Seems obvious, but I mean really practice reading out loud. Don’t just read your poems over and over in your head. Use a mirror, read to some friends or family, or record yourself.
Relax. Most readings or open mics are relatively tame, supportive, and laid back. In these settings, people tend to follow the rule, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” so you probably won’t get booed.
Now take your writing to a new audience and push past your comfort zone.
What other strategies do you have for making the best of public readings? Share your thoughts.