Before you go to the reading
- Choose what to read and in what order.
- Be sure to know your time limit and stick to it.
- Choose what to wear.
- Try to attend a reading at your venue before your reading.
Practice reading at home
- Tape yourself reading.
- Read to a family member or friend.
- Mark your manuscript.
Stepping up to the Mic
- Adjust the mic and do a sound test. Confirm the audience can hear.
- Take time to arrange your papers, water bottle, etc.
Get Out of Your Own Way
- Think about the audience
- Be aware of who is in the room and adjust your reading as necessary.
- Never say you’re sorry.
- Slow down.
- Take a breather between poems.
- Sharing background—not too much, not too little.
- Show your personality.
- Connect with yourself, your emotion.
- Strive to connect with the audience.
- Enjoy the experience.
Extra tips on reading poetry aloud
- You do not need a ‘dramatic’ voice to be successful. An assumed voice will seem artificial and strained.
- Remember to breathe. Holding your breath heightens tension, which in turn heightens the tone of your voice.
- Use the natural pauses in the poem to take a breath, for example on a comma, full stop or period.
- If the occasion is emotional for example, the poem is part of eulogy, wedding or retirement speech, print it out in a large clear font so it is easily read. Marking the pauses, breath or stress points using a highlighter, will also help you remember what you rehearsed.
- Stand tall and relaxed, just as you would for delivering a speech.
- And just in case you need them, here’s tips for managing
public speaking anxiety and some good breathing exercises
- How to read poetry out loud.
- Physical Presence
- Voice and Articulation
- Dramatic Appropriateness
- Evidence of Understanding
- Overall Performance
- Tips on Reciting