Thursday, March 21, 2013

Words On The Wind – NZ Book Month Event

Dan Rabarts corralled some great spec-fic writers to be part of a reading at Wellington Central Library on Wednesday night as part of NZ Book Month.

The event was well attended, with at least 60 audience members. Stories, Poetry and excerpts from longer works were read by Tim Jones, Michael Parry, Sally McLennan, Anna Caro, Matt Cowens and myself.

Afterwards there was an opportunity to talk to the audience, and lots of appreciation for the stories I read and the flyers I had prepared for where to buy my books proved popular.
I’ve done several of these public readings before, and other than the lessons I have learned about choosing appropriate content, I also realised that there are some tips on how to do a public reading that I feel qualified to share with anyone planning on doing such an event.
The organisation of the evening was excellent, the PA system and seating was well set up and there were no issues with that. The introductions of each reader were also well done and the material presented was really great.

However, when it comes to reading to a public group, I’d suggest the following:

1. Know your material.  
That means read the story. Not just when writing it or editing it. Actually read the story until you know all the words and the tricky bits and the cadence of the dialogue and prose.

2.   Practice Reading The Story Aloud
This will help you read the story better when you are in front of an audience. It will help you pitch your voice and style to the story. It will make your presentation more natural and give your audience a better listening experience.

3.    Reading To An Audience Is A Performance Art
Make your story come alive! Do character voices, change tone, pitch, cadence and read it with enthusiasm! Get your audience involved in your story. Let them experience it rather than just hear it.

4.    Can You Hear Me Now?
That means, don’t drone in a monotone. Don’t speak to fast. Enunciate your words. As my mother-in-law says, “Use. Your. Top-ah. Lip-ah!”

Relatively simple stuff, but as writers we need to remember that writing a story is only part of the work. To present our stories to a live audience – requires us to work on presentation skills and embrace the audience so they in turn will embrace the experience we are providing them with.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Sounds groovy Paul!