Blog Post: Three Tip Thursday – Attending a Reading

I recently attended the monthly meeting of a local writers organization where I am a member. I love this group – writers of all types, current information, networking, catching up with old friends and clients.  This particular meeting featured readers who had entered and won a prize in the writing contest we sponsored earlier this year.  As a committee member, I was especially partial to supporting those who attended to read their winning pieces, and hoped that they would feel at ease.  Here are some things that came to mind during the course of this meeting.

  • Our presenter had just finished saying what a great response we received from those who joined the club as a result of entering the contest (19 new members to be exact!), and introduced one of the speakers.  The woman started to arrange herself at the podium and while doing so casually mentioned, “I’m one of the ones who joined when I entered,” just to establish some rapport with those in the front row, within earshot, including the person who introduced her.  A few members of the audience quickly yelled, “USE THE MIKE!”  She looked a little confused since she hadn’t officially started reading, and said, “Oh.”  You could tell it threw her a little off track.  My thought is she should have had the chance to officially begin before anyone determined whether or not they could hear her. (It’s like those who are quick to say “shhhh!” at the start of a movie as soon as someone breathes.)
  • It’s good setup to have a microphone stand on the podium so the reader doesn’t have to hold the mic.  We had a podium and a hand held mic for this meeting.  Readers generally hold their papers, might need to have some water handy, and need to stabilize their nerves (sometimes) by lightly holding on to the edge of a podium.  If they are holding the mic in one hand, and holding the papers with the other, it’s a little awkward for them to flip the pages while still holding the mic.  They should feel relaxed and maneuvering the mic is just one more thing to worry about.  (In all fairness to those who have presented at several readings and don’t find this an issue, maybe there is an art to this that I just haven’t mastered or witnessed.  Please share!)
  • If poetry’s not your thing, or you’re a non-fiction writer and have no interest in hearing fiction,  inappropriate laughter at parts where the reader isn’t laughing might not be the best way to show yourself as a supportive audience member.  Just sayin’.

Readings are great; they give you the opportunity to be exposed to types of literature that you might not otherwise have read or encountered.  Have you attended any readings?  What are your tips for speakers and audience?

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