This week I was invited to participate in Frye Festival, Atlantic Canada’s largest literary happening held each year in Moncton, New Brunswick. I was asked to give a short reading of an unpublished manuscript at an event cleverly titled Drafts and Draughts, which took place at a small coffee house-type venue at the main festival hotel, Delta Beausejour. The thought of reading a draft piece of work in front of an audience made me a bit nervous but I was excited to do it. Here’s how I prepared.
1. Scope out the venue in advance
If you have any nerves at all, you can put them to rest by simply going to see the venue where you will be speaking. Sometimes it’s the fear of the unknown that gets the best of us, but by checking out the venue in advance, you can figure out the setup for the stage, podium, lights, and audience seating.
2.Choose your reading bit
Don’t be egocentric by arriving at the event and reading any old page. You need to consider your audience, the theme of the event, and how much time you’re going to have. In my case, I was asked to read an unpublished manuscript for 5 minutes. So I knew I had to find an interesting short story within my larger manuscript, one with a strong beginning and ending and emotional appeal.
3. Be part of the audience
While you’re waiting your turn to read, make sure to enjoy the event by listening to the other authors read their stories. Remember that the evening is not all about you (unless it really is all about you because you are the only author reading!).
4. Practice your reading
Just like any great vocalist, you need to practice your reading before you get on that stage. You may think that because you wrote the piece you can read it, but this is not so. All great vocalists will tell you that they warm up before performing for an audience, exercising their vocal chords and mouth, and saying tricky strings of words over and over again until there’s no hesitation or stammers.
Finally, remember to breathe. It will help with the nerves and ensure you don’t rush your words.
Happy reading, everyone!