Saturday, 2 May 2015

Reading In Public

Lora Stimson, our 2014 prose competition winner,
reading at our IWD event this year.
Do you worry about reading your work in public? It can be a huge challenge.  In a poll of 2,000 people, two thirds revealed that they feared speaking in public more than dying.  But all that terror can be re-routed into a useful form of alertness by following the advice below.

Be Prepared

Please plan your reading so that you don’t go over the allotted time. Select an extract – ideally one with its own beginning, middle and end; and which involves some action or a turning point. - and time yourself reading it out. You may find it necessary to edit the extract to fit the time slot or rewrite part of it, specifically for the reading. Don’t be shy of making your extract work for you within the reading timescale.

The reading should include a short introduction to yourself and should place the extract you plan to read in context. Don’t leave this to chance.  Write it out on your reading script.  You can think you know exactly what you want to say but it is so easy to leap off your prepared version and flounder.

Double space and use a clear font so you cannot lose your place on the page.

Practice reading your extract to an imaginary audience. Note places to pause.  Decide if you feel confident enough to use different voices. There is a trick of turning the head in a different direction to visually signal a different voice in the text.  Slow down.  You cannot read too slowly but you can definitely read too fast.  Look up now and again, and practice doing this. Always focus on a point above your audience’s heads at the back of the room or reading space. 

On the Day

It is worth warming up.  There are actors’ exercises which involve rapidly firing one’s way through the alphabet.  Sing a song alone in the bathroom, use your voice before setting foot on the stage. 

If you are using a microphone, arrive early and try it out. Try to relax, remember the audience will be on your side.  They are excited about what they are going to hear. Breathe slow and deep.  Determine to enjoy the experience. Believe in your words.

Holly Dawson on the Thresholds website has written a detailed, practical blog on reading aloud.
We hope you find it useful.

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