I so enjoyed my PEN reading last night—and everyone else seemed to, as well. I don’t know the count, but the theatre was almost full, so my guess is about 150, perhaps more—which is excellent.
This time I followed some of the advice given in one of the workshops I had taken at the SMA Writers’ Conference this last weekend. The workshop was on giving readings, by Terrence Hill, author of the delightful “Two Guys Read…” series, and a fabulous presenter himself.
It’s not a reading, it’s a performance.
Wear something odd, or come in costume.
Know exactly what you’re going to read.
Select your reading based on the audience.
Select readings that form a story.
Offer to write your introduction.
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
Time your presentation.
Arrange for someone to ask the first question, in order to break the ice at the beginning of the question and answer period.
Arrive early and see what’s missing. Check the room and the equipment.
Show your book to the audience, but don’t read from it. Read from an edited print-out.
Write out everything, even the asides.
Prepare a closing: “Thank you for listening.
I very much like Terrence’s approach. In many ways, I’ve been doing much of it already; he confirmed that I was on the right track. I much preferred reading from copy in 16-point type than from a marked-up book, which can be difficult to handle.
One thing I used for the first time was a spring-loaded notebook, a gift from the wonderful writer, Merilyn Simonds. Instead of a scramble of loose sheets or cards, this time I had this elegant portfolio that lay beautifully flat on the podium. It has become essential to me now. I highly recommend it.