Last Saturday, Laura Lee Bahr and I held the "Rock Your Reading" workshop at the Fairy Cottage. Everyone read their work and flb gave notes.
Then Laura coached on how to present to an audience.
Here are some tips:
Learn your piece in advance, as you would a piece of music. Say the sticky parts over and over until they flow.
Your reading starts the second you get up from your chair and walk to the stage. It ends when you sit down.
Own the space.
Project your voice as if trying to hit it against the far wall.
Look up and make eye contact at important moments.
Let your vulnerabilty shine. Laura says one of the greatest readings she ever attended featured a writer who shook and mumbled the whole time. But the power of her emotions deeply affected the audience and they leaned in to hear and feel her.
You don't have to "act" out the character dialogue but try to embody the energy of each character.
Create a world with your words.