Writer’s Guide to Reading in Public: 8 Tips

Writers are solitary, work in silence, and are often intimidated by the daunting prospect of reading their work in public.  Robin Greene, MFA, the leader of our Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat attributes this fear to our collective wish to “get it right and not make mistakes.”  She says that imperfection is what makes us human and creates the relationship between the audience and the reader.  People enjoy it when you make a mistake, she says.  It makes you more like them.  And, we can transmit this tension and fear of public speaking as energy in the delivery of our words.

Robin Greene, MFA, introduces the readers

Reading is different from speaking, Robin goes on to say.  The writer has to do more work when putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to convince the reader that they should care about what we are writing.  This is what Robin calls, befriending the reader, and the relationship starts out as adversarial.

When reading aloud in front of an audience, we don’t have to convince them. They already care about and like us because they are there waiting to hear our words.

Janet Chavez Santiago reads from her memoir

8 Tips for Reading in Public:

  1. Track what you read with your finger.
  2. Always know where you are when you look up.
  3. Speak slowly–words evaporate.
  4. The more slowly you speak, the more your audience will digest and retain.
  5. Practice phrasing out loud in front of a mirror.
  6. Create a friendly reading space with chairs in a semi-circle.
  7. Add slash marks on the written page where you want to take pauses in the stanza.
  8. All communication is an act of love.

If you have tips to share, please add them in the comment section!

Click here for the next Oaxaca Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat. And, click here for more about Robin Greene, MFA.


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