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Tuesday Tips: Read in front of people? Me?

cat, image by Annabel P., on Pixabay

Read in front of people? Me?

Maybe you’ve always hated to read out loud and never wanted the teacher

to call on you. Just the idea of getting up in front of people makes your palms

turn into sweatshops and your stomach start doing hip-hop. But sometimes

you’d like to share your poems with others. What to do?

Of course, practice helps. Practice alone, practice in front of your pets

or in front of your collection of teddy bears (been there, done that).

Practice with a friend who’s a good listener, or with your writers group.

A workshop leader once told us that sharing a poem is like giving a gift—

and should be presented like a gift. No need to be ashamed or make excuses.

A gift is something you want to give. And you give it… to someone.

Which brings us to our audience. Those scary, hard-hearted folks just itching

to criticize—no, wait, that’s not right! Some of them are smiling, some seem

actually interested. That one looks distracted, but this one nodded like they

were really listening.

Then how can you tackle the nerves? The Bible says, “perfect love casts out

fear” (from 1 John 4:18.) Please understand, I’m not saying that I love perfectly—

far from it. But I do love, and I try to love, and want my writing to do some good

in this world. So, how can we love an audience?

Personally, I try to say a silent prayer for myself and the audience before giving

a poetry reading. Asking that the Lord would help me to read correctly and to

read well. That He would bless all the people who are there, protect and guide

them, and meet their needs.

I look at individuals, look at their eyes. It helps me to connect with them—and

to remember that they’re people too, with feelings, hopes, concerns. When we

love our audience, it helps us not to be afraid. And when we’re not afraid, we feel

freer, and might even find we’re having fun. So take the risk, then relax and enjoy.

Grey and black-striped cat lounging on an elegant little cat-sized couch, image by photosforyou, on Pixabay.

cat on a little couch, image by photosforyou, on Pixabay

May, 2023

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