She advised: 'Practise in front of the mirror; if you're brave enough, record it to hear how you sound - you'll hear your intonation, length of pauses etc; try to keep your head up so your voice projects; most important of all, concentrate on slowing down, because when we're nervous we gallop through and the audience will miss the power of your piece.'
I also went round to meet her in person for a one-to-one crash course on how not to fall on my arse in public. This was an hour well spent, during which I learned the following:
- Wear something with colour and shape, to stand out and be remembered for the right reasons.
- Put on a bit of lippy - and loosen those lips before you start to speak.
- Plant your feet, then stand still.
- Use a highlighter pen to emphasise key words, or the start of paragraphs (in case you lose your place).
- If you have to give an introduction, write it on a sticky note - you might forget your own name if you're nervous!
- Start strong.
- Turn the page in natural pauses - reprint, if necessary
- Pause for laughs - or tears or whatever emotion you're trying to evoke.
I'll let you know how I get on.