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Public speaking tips for writers

How to read your work out loud 

Writing can be solitary job. But being a professional ‘author’ often requires you to stand in front of crowds, read from your work and even give presentations – something many of us never get training for. This newsletter reveals tips on public speaking for writers, with some pretty exciting examples.  

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MASTERCLASS: Friday Night Live 2019 (FREE) 

The highlight of the Festival of Writing – Friday Night Live has seen writers walk away with offers of representation. Watch as 2019’s shortlisted writers read their work out to the audience and literary agent judges.  



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Content corner: How to read your work out loud 

Like many writers, growing up I was a shy introvert. The thought of standing in front of a room of people and reading my work out TERRIFED me. Fast forward a few decades and I’m now happily chatting to crowds of hundreds of strangers. So what changed? And if you have to go through this same process and read your work out loud (say perhaps for Friday Night Live) - how do you start?  

1: Practice makes perfect. The first time I read my work out loud, I felt so sick I thought I might faint on stage. But then I tried again. And again. At reading groups, poetry slams, video calls – whatever. The more you do something, the easier it becomes. Confidence isn’t a trait – it's a habit.  

2: Learn from the masters. Reading is about so much more than just saying words out loud. It's about conveying rhythm, emotion – all the wonderful things that make language beautiful. No one does this better than spoken word poets. My favourites: Anthony Anaxagorou; Lemn Sissay; Kate Tempest; Sabrina Mahfouz. Watch and learn!  

3: Take your time. When you’re nervous, you want to get it over and done with as soon as possible. But engaging reading is often slow and considered. It pauses for emphasis.  

4: Use flashcards and notes. Break your text up on the page by separating them into flashcards, or use a pen to highlight tricky words and phrases. 

5: Finally – be human. Everyone makes mistakes. If you stumble in a live reading – own it. Start the sentence again. You’ve got this.  

What are your tips for reading your work out loud? Are there any I’ve missed? Sign up to the Townhouse for free and share here.  

Stay well 

Sarah J x 

Plus, don’t miss: 

From stand-alone to series, with Melissa Addey (FREE for members) 

23 July 2020. Join indie pro Melissa Addey for this member-exclusive webinar on how to turn a stand-alone book into a series. 



Manuscript Assessment  (Discounts available for members) 

Our most popular editorial service matches you to your dream editor and gives you tailored feedback on your work. It doesn’t get better than that. 

Self-Edit your novel bursary

Under-represented writers are invited to apply for a free place on September’s Self-Edit Your Novel tutored course, with one-in-four alumni now published. Closes 31 August. 


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Comments (2)
  • Here are 3 more tips for reading your work out loud:

    1. Select your piece and stop in a passage full of tension & suspense, just before somehing intriguing is about to happen. Leave your readers wondering what happens next. This may generate questions from the audience, be prepared to answer them but don't give eveything away. Be misterious... leave them wondeing.

    2. Preprare more than one piece in case your audience requests more. Choose your pieces well, they don't need to be from the first chapter.

    3. And just one more tip for reading aloud: think of your audience as a bunch of friends in a cafe or the like, with you talking to them about your book. They want to know what your book is about. No. Not the plot.The theme. Be friendly, approchable and informal. Open with a joke of yours if you can, before starting reading your piece.

    All the best! Enjoy...!

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    • I still feel that suspense in my belly and my knee knocking and wanting to run to the loo. Since the childhood times. Funny how things never leave you. Hope everyone having fun.

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