Andromeda/Your Turn: Open Mic Tips

Anyone else out there recovering from a bout of chest-crud (for lack of a more technical term)? In our house, we’re on week two, with the coughing spells waxing and waning and patience long gone. Throw in several feet of snow this week, and a visit to the car mechanic this morning (cost of repair=more than the value of car, as always seems to be the case), plus some Internet connection issues at mid-day, and I was going to skip posting.

But wait — tonight is 49 Writers Open Mic night! If you plan to go, read on. If you attended and are reading this later, tell us how it went, what you experienced, what you learned. Several of my 49 Alaska Writing Center students reported being nervous at the last reading they did, but all said it was a great experience.

I scanned the web for Open Mic tips and here are a few I found– and agree with:

1. Obey the time limit provided. Time yourself in advance, and don’t exceed. Better to leave your audience wanting more, not less.

2. Plan not to apologize, over-explain, or waste the audience time with too much nervous preamble. A quick hello in order to bond with the audience, a sentence or two at most to give the piece a bit of context (but only a very little bit!) and then get reading.

3. Print out your pages. Reading from a laptop or other gadget is distracting and unreliable. If there is a time for your computer to freeze, this will be it.

4. Format your pages. Whether or not you have middle-age eyes, it can be helpful to print your reading in larger font. Number the pages in case you drop them at the last minute. BOLD any sections where you want to slow down, or make other performance notations as needed. The experts say you shouldn’t staple the pages — turning them makes too much sound.

5. Practice. Read to your pets or your plants or your friends.

6. Go slow. And if there is a microphone, don’t do the old “I don’t need this thing” shtick — you probably do. Unless the mic is buzzing and squeaking. Then step away and project.

7. And most of all, try to enjoy. The audience wants to see you succeed. Nine times out of ten, you will feel nerves and hear tremors that they can’t perceive.

But you knew all that, right? Now tell us how it went!

2 thoughts on “Andromeda/Your Turn: Open Mic Tips”

  1. Never underestimate the power of faking confidence. Project the confidence that you wish you had and the audience will see it shine from you. If you make a mistake or fumble over your words, just smile and repeat. Over the years I have learned that a graceful recovery is just as important as practicing aloud beforehand.

  2. Thanks to everyone who came last night to the open mic. We had an even larger crowd than the first reading. Each time there are new people in the audience and new readers to hear. We'll do it again in February.

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