Sharing Your Work with an Audience
“Standing and delivering” is a powerful way to present your work. However, it is perfectly fine to read, and to develop a personal style. The most important reason for reading your excerpts from your book is that performing is an affirmation. You are the author, take the plunge and go public—you will be surprised at how rewarding it can be. In addition, presenting your work to the public orally, it will help the sales of your book if you learn to present it correctly.
There is nothing like a reading performance that kindles something between the writer and the audience. It is a special moment when the author is able to bring their work alive for the audience in such a way that they see or think of the work differently. You will want to read the selection you have chosen in such a way that the audience will get a true feel for the meaning of the piece. There are a few things to keep in mind when preparing for this kind of presentation.
• Check for time limit. You need to know how much time you have been given at this event. Make sure edit your selection sufficiently to meet the time limit. You will want to allow some of your time for a short introduction to get the audience ready to listen to the selection itself.
Editing your work will not be easy because you feel that all of your writing is worthwhile, but you will have a stronger presentation if you limit yourself to the minimum time limit. Try to find the most important part and the section of the writing that might resonate with that particular audience. In addition, select a section that lends to being read aloud. This means that there will many imagery words in that section. It is also a good idea to select a section that you are comfortable reading aloud.
• Know the selection. Knowing your material is the first step to preparing for the reading. Once you have edited the content and are sure that you meet the time limits, read over the piece several times.
Manuscript Preparation. If you can, type your cutting from the selection in a large font and double space. (I like to enlarge the font to at least a sixteen or eighteen point font so when I need to glance at the selection, I do not have to lower my head and lose eye contact with the audience. I number the pages so they are in order and will not get out of place. I put my selection in a 3-ring binder that usually is black or grey.) It is best to become so familiar with your selection that it is almost memorized so that when you can maintain the maximum amount of eye contact your audience, and you are able to find your place again when you look back at your manuscript.
(I also like to put my manuscript in sheet protectors because it makes turning the pages easier and it keeps the manuscript clean for more readings.)
• Mark up your manuscript. Add notations—“slow down,” “pause,” “look up,” underline
keywords, etc.—to give yourself reminders about delivery. Having trouble with a word? Include a note about pronunciation. You can even include notations about time, indicating where you should be at each minute marker.