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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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.
Sarah J x
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