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.