Monday, 1 February 2016

Taking advice from an expert

I'm reading one of my short stories at a function on Thursday and I'm a  tad nervous, so via Facebook I asked my poet friend Kerry (Kezzabelle) for some tips, because she is a seasoned performer at spoken word events and all sorts of places.

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.
She also had some useful advice about which words I should emphasise in my story and made some suggestions about when to look up, pause, etc.

I'll let you know how I get on.


  1. Some excellent advice there. I have never had to speak in public - reading out my work to the group is as much as I've done. But other members often ask that we slow down and speak up, so I think they are the most important points. Very best of luck.

    1. Thanks, Maggie. There's nothing worse than a gabbling whisperer.

  2. Great advice, Julia. At our annual Scottish Association of Writers conference, the winner of each comp has to stand up and read it out to a large audience - some could do with those tips! Mind you, I don't know how I did the first time, but since then I've been the adjudicator and had to deliver the results and give a short talk. Guess it gets easier the more we do it (maybe). Have a good time and enjoy it - I also find eye contact with a few different people helps.

  3. Thanks for the tips. I'm due to do a short talk in our local library about my writing. To promote and sell Redinton of course. I'll be checking those points nearer the time.

    1. I'm sure you don't need my advice, Susan.