You may read to children in your role as parent, teacher or storyteller;  you may want to take part in reading events or poetry slams, and, if you ever get that novel published, you will have to read at book fairs and literary festivals.  Even if you only want to read effectively in class a few professional pointers help. Our Wrote It? Quote It! performance workshop last Saturday highlighted how much writers need  a few professional tips in order to read their work well, so here goes:

  1. Check that your piece works for performance e.g. there are no puns which only work on paper.
  2. Prepare and practise aloud. The more confident you are with your material the less you will stress and sweat.
  3. If you are reading a short piece, learn it off by heart but don’t half-read/ half-recite that leads to errors when you look down at the page.
  4. Feel your space. Make sure you are familiar with the location especially if there are steps and other obstacles. Get up on the stage or walk to the lectern in advance if you can. Check your exit.
  5. If you are using a mike, make sure you practice before hand and know where the on/off switch is.
  6. Keep the mike at chest height: it always sounds quieter to you than it really is. “Eating” the mike creates distortion which will annoy your audience.
  7. Practise reading with a mike (or mike substitute) in your hand, your script and any props; there’s nothing worse than realising when you arrive on stage that you can’t turn the pages and use the mike.
  8. Wear comfortable clothes which you won’t want to fiddle with on stage.
  9. Do a few stretches before hand if possible; loosening up physically helps you to loosen up mentally. Try some voice exercises to relax up your vocal cords; nerves make for squeaky voices.
  10. Take deep breaths through the nose and out through the mouth as you do in yoga. Now you are ready to read!

Next blog – what to do once you’re up on that stage…

For more performance tips from former stand up Ardella Jones check Funny-Business

Chalk the Sun’s next performance workshop is Saturday 23 March and our reading and wine evening is 7 pm Sunday 24 March at Balham Bowls Club