Writers occasionally are asked to read from their works in public. If this happens to you take it seriously. It is a terrific opportunity to present your work to a group of people who have (in most cases) volunteered to listen to you. They come in ready to listen and hungry for good writing. No pressure, but don’t screw this up.
Leigh Stein over at Reality Poetry has put together a pretty good how-to on public readings. In addition to her comments, I would add: rehearse.
Why? Well, you should read at a pace of about 120 words per minute. If you’re racing along at 150 wpm, you’re going way too fast. Your audience won’t be able to keep up. You should rehearse in front of a live audience if possible. Have a couple friends or family members stand (er, sit) in as the audience. If you can’t or won’t do that, record yourself. Most smart phones have a voice memo feature. You could also record a short video to watch. Try not to stare down at your notes, mumbling into the page. Look up from the page and make a little eye contact with the audience once in a while.
Any other suggestions?
The VWP hosts public readings a couple times a year. Check our calendar page for updates. We’re pretty sure the next event will be around Veterans Day at the Navy Memorial in Washington, DC.