Presenting Your Poetry

Before you go to the reading

  1. Choose what to read and in what order.
  2. Be sure to know your time limit and stick to it.
  3. Choose what to wear.
  4. Try to attend a reading at your venue before your reading.

Practice reading at home

  1. Tape yourself reading.
  2. Read to a family member or friend.
  3. Mark your manuscript.

Stepping up to the Mic

  1. Adjust the mic and do a sound test. Confirm the audience can hear.
  2. Take time to arrange your papers, water bottle, etc.

Get Out of Your Own Way

  1. Think about the audience
  2. Be aware of who is in the room and adjust your reading as necessary.
  3. Never say you’re sorry.
  4. Slow down.
  5. Take a breather between poems.
  6. Sharing background—not too much, not too little.
  7. Show your personality.
  8. Connect with yourself, your emotion.
  9. Strive to connect with the audience.
  10. Smile.
  11. 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.

Evaluation Criteria:

Famous Poets Reading

For inquiries and permissions, please email me.

Leah Stenson