For content writers who double as poets or fictioneers, an open mic reading can be a great place to let your voice shine and attract new readers and clients looking to publish your work. If you’re hesitant about reading publicly or unsure how to bridge the gap between your creative and content selves, read on for some tips to handle a public reading with grace and authenticity to establish a powerful presence people will remember.
If you’re giving a reading of your work, that means you’ve either been asked to share your work or you’re in a public forum that encourages equal participation. In either situation, make sure to thank the organizers of the event for allowing you to read. Your “thank you” doesn’t need to be an Oscar acceptance speech; keep it short and sincere, and then move on to your reading. Also keep in mind that this isn’t the time to publicly disclose your nerves or make disclaimers about what you’re about to read. Project confidence by refusing to externalize any internal doubts. Have faith in your work, and the audience will have faith in you.
Make Eye Contact
This can be a challenge, especially in dimly lit spaces, but make an attempt to look up and make eye contact with the people in your audience. This will show that you care about communicating and making a connection, and it can be very heartening to see even a single face nodding along to your thoughts and ideas. Don’t worry about looking at every single person in the room, just try to make an authentic connection with a few folks over the course of your reading.
Plug Your Work
If you have a book or an article coming out or if you’d like to let people know you’re available for blog ghostwriting or other work, do mention it before you leave the mic. Again, keep this statement short and simple and invite people to ask you questions after the reading if they’re interested in hearing more about your work. If this is an event that features a host, you can also ask them to plug your ghostwriting services during your introduction.
Listen and Connect
Pay close attention to your fellow readers during the reading. This may sound like obvious advice, but if you’re nervous, you may tune everything out except your own inner anxiety. Paying attention ensures that you can participate in some authentic conversation with fellow readers and audience members after the reading. This can be a great time to make connections with potential clients; ghostwriters must network by necessity since their work is generally anonymous, but no one wants to talk to a self-centered pusher.
After the reading, be sure to follow up on any potential contacts by sending a friendly, professional note via social network or email. Provide a link to your portfolio or website and thank them for their interest in your work!
Caitlin C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.