Here are some practical tips for your next reading...

So you flubbed your last reading, what do you do?  Start out by not kicking yourself and knowing that the next time will be better. Instead of beating yourself up about it, congratulate yourself for having the moxie to stand before a group of strangers and read from your works in the first place. It gets better with practice.  Here are a few stage props you can use next time:

  • Start out with an icebreaker. Putting your audience at ease with a laugh or two engages your listeners, and does wonders for your own self-confidence.  Short funny poems or quotes work for me.
  • Acquaint yourself with the room before you take the stage. This will eliminate any surprises that might affect your delivery, and also gives you an enhanced sense of control. 
  • Check out the lighting. When you're reading from your book, you're usually looking at a Times New Roman 12 point font size, which, when the lighting is poor, can slow (and sometimes even stop) your delivery.
  • To remedy poor lighting, instead of reading from your book itself, type the material and print it out using 14 points or more font size. 
  • Check out the sound system.  Make sure the microphone is pointing in your direction. This is especially important if you're preceded by someone taller or shorter than you. You might even want to check with the folks in back of the room to make sure they can hear you. Most times, they will let you know whether you're coming through to them or not.
  • Acknowledge the MC, and any other person who worked to get you in front of a receptive audience.
  • Once into your reading material, pause between sentences to make eye contact. When people see you looking at them instead of keeping your eyes glued to your work, they will be more attentive, and more likely to buy your book. 
  • Pay attention to your time allotment. Be considerate of the other readers on the program. The MC will usually track your time, but you should also be aware and spare her or him the embarrassment of having to cut your delivery short.
  • Allow time--usually five minutes or so--for a question and answer period. This provides an additional opportunity for potential buyers of your book to elicit information from you. It may even be the clincher that sells your book.

Relax, you're gonna wow them!