Plan in Advance:
Plan what you are going to read. Choose a set of poems. If youíre reading
from a loose leaf manuscript, put the pages in order. If youíre reading from a bound book,
mark the pages with post-it notes. You can add or eliminate a poemóbut have a general planned
set of poems before you begin.
Know Your Material:
You will want to concentrate on your performance and to have eye contact
with the audience. Practice reading your material, become comfortable with the cadence of
each poem. Time yourself; make sure that you have your poems timed out so that you can
conclude in the allotted time you are provided.
Feeling nervous before a reading is natural. Reading your material (in your car or
in a place off by yourself) will help soothe your nerves. You want to be relaxed during your
Explore the Room:
Arrive early. Walk around; get a feel for the space.
Visualize yourself reading unhurried with your voice calm, loud, clear, and
assured. Close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath, and relax.
Lighting and Sound:
Sometimes lighting may wash out the printed page. You may need to
turn at an angle to be able to read your material. You may wish to print out a copy of
your material in a larger font size to help you see the print. Do not be afraid of the
microphone. People, especially hard-of-hearing people, need for you to use it. We want you
to use the microphone.
Donít call attention to the fact that you are nervous. Donít apologize for
being a virgin reader. Donít promise to come back to read again unless you will.
Donít eat a big meal or drink too much just before your turn.
Have water with you on stage. Being nervous may make your mouth/throat dry.
Before you begin your turn briefly say hello to the audience and thank them for being
there. During the refreshment break walk up to people and get to know them. Find out what is
going on locally ó this may help you decide which poems to select for future readings.
Remember that you will usually only have five minutes for your turn.
Poets and musicians who have not yet had their turn are depending on you to honor the
five minute timeslot.