1. katnip
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    katnip Member

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    so i have to read a story of mine out loud in a group critique....

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by katnip, Apr 25, 2011.

    i've never been a public speaker, so this little stipulation to the workshop i joined has me sweating bullets all night thinking about it. i always mummble my words, ruin the pace of the piece by speaking too fast, etc, etc you get the idea. i hate that my poor public speaking ruins the effect of the story, and a bored listener's opinion of my writing

    any advice?
     
  2. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    I would say talk slowly and clearly. Perhaps take a pause at the end of each sentence and look up briefly. Practice it beforehand and time yourself, see what point you reach at what time, and try to keep that pace when reading it out loud (if there's a clock to keep an eye on).

    Of course it's so easy to forget the simple things when you're actually up there. Try to keep them in your mind, remember to breathe, and don't forget to pause.
     
  3. katnip
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    katnip Member

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    thanks:) i need to work on remmebering to think about those things
     
  4. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Practice. Sit up straight, so you aren't constraining your breathing. The thing that always got me through is realizing that if others are needing to read, they probably aren't even paying attention to me and are just themselves worrying about their reading, which was a relief of sorts.
     
  5. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also, trying reading in front of a mirror first. Sometimes this helps.
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Writers write, readers read. Don't stress about not being good at public speaking, because ultimately it's pretty irrelevant, and being good at one has nothing to do with the other.
     
  7. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    As long as you make the discinction between reading aloud in public and just reading, I'd mostly agree with this. A good writer needs to also be able to read a lot to learn his craft, and even should read his own work aloud to himself to catch mistakes. However, even though a great writer doesn't need to be good at public speaking or reading, it's a very useful skill to have, because writing and critique groups are a very powerful tool for any writer to leverage.

    Practice in front of a mirror, maybe try reading aloud to a few family members or friends first, and then, when it comes to your turn to read, just don't sweat it. Pretend you're reading it aloud to yourself, and remember that everyone there is being put on the spot, and you're likely not going to be the only one who's nervous about it. Public speaking and reading gets easier over time, so the more you do it, the more natural it will be to you.
     
  8. Schwinn57
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    Schwinn57 Member

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    However slow you think you are speaking, speak slower and then it'll come out alright in front of the crowd.
     
  9. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Actually, if you want to be a successful writer these days, it's hugely important to be good at reading your own work and public speaking in general. Best to start practicing early.
     
  10. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I'm gonna have to disagree...maybe if you want to self-publish and market your own work, then the ability to read your own work might be important, but I've never heard of an author being turned away from a publishing house because of an inability to speak in public. There's a reason most authors don't read their books when they're made into audiobooks.
     
  11. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Don't forget that virtually every single commercially published author does public readings and presentations as part of his or her promotion. Publishers will accept or reject books based on whether they believe they can work with an author, and though I don't know this for sure, I could imagine this might be a criterion that they would use. Either way, succesfully promoting a book often relies on it.
     
  12. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Exactly.

    They won't reject you because you aren't good at reading your own work, but rest assured they're going to expect you to do it.

    I suppose whether an author wants to be good at it is up to them (and not all are, of course), but that doesn't mean it's not important, and especially doesn't mean it's irrelevant.

    And not even reading one's own work, but also most writers don't make a living out of their fiction, so public appearances or giving lectures, teaching, all sorts of things, pretty much all of it involves public speaking, so again, best to get used to it early.

    And yes, most writers I know are terrified of it, but that doesn't mean you won't be expected to do it. If you do it well, that's one more advantage.
     
  13. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with both Arathald and Popicledeath. Authors are expected to do more PR work today than ever before - but don't let that put you off - as with everything else 'practice makes perfect'.

    You are doing the right thing by joining a group that enables you read your work out loud - the more you do this the easier it should become.

    The first time I read my work out aloud, I was shaking, my face was scarlet and I shook like a leaf as I stammered my way through my ordeal. But that was way back when.

    Now after being a member of a couple of writing groups (one of which reading your work out loud was encouraged), when ever I get the chance I am now one of the first people to volunteer to read my work out.

    So really as difficult as you may be finding this, stick with it - it will I'm sure prove to be of great benefit to you in the end.

    Good luck!
     
  14. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know how you feel. My hands shake, blush, voice goes really high, I keep swallowing and misreading things etc. because of how nervous and scared I am. Yeah, I absolutely hate reading aloud, but writers are expected to read their fiction and make public speeches etc. nowadays to promote themselves.

    I guess try and not think about the people you are reading to as much. Try and focus on what you've written and really get into your story and telling it to them. Take a deep breath before you start too perhaps, and think to yourself 'I'm only reading my story out, no big deal'. I know it's easier said than done, I never do any of this because I'm just in panic mode, but it might be worth a try. Basically, don't overthink about it. Good luck.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    tape yourself reading it... redo it till it sounds good... by then, you should be able to do it well enough in public...

    but just in case you freeze, bring the recorder and play the best reading for the group, explaining that the alternative is having your death on their hands...
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Speak to the person in the farthest corner of the room, but make brief eye contact with people in various partgs of the room. Take a deep breath before speaking, and speak more slowly than your instinct tells you.
     
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  17. katnip
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    katnip Member

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    ahahhahah. that might work.

    thanks for all the advice guys^^ deelpy appreciated
     
  18. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Hearing things like this make me glad that starting in elementary school they made us take turns reading out loud. I love public speaking :D For all of you who are afraid, maybe you could look into volunteering to read at a school or a library for a children's hour or something? No, you won't read in the comical voice of a lion when you read to adults, but children will tell you if they don't like you so they're pretty tough critics :D They're definitely a great start to get over the fear.

    As far as reading to your peers the best thing I can say is to remember that most people have a fear of public speaking so they're just glad it's not them. If you get nervous and feel like your going to freeze, say "Oh my gosh, I'm so nervous. If I pass out, just kick me out of the way and get on with it." And smile. Unless they're complete sticks in the mud, they'll laugh and everything will be fine. You'll be more at ease, and they'll be in a more receptive mood. If you make a mistake don't panic, just keep going, if you do it more than three times or it starts getting crazy, laugh a little and say "Whoops, remembered my shoes, forgot my brain." Smile. People will feel compelled to smile with you.
     
  19. LaGs
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    LaGs Banned

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    I have a kind of phobia of public speaking...the last time i had to speak in public was in mass at a relative's funeral where i had to say a couple of prayers. I was absolutely terrified, started stuttering and my breathing went all funny. I'm scarred for life so i know where the OP is coming from haha
     
  20. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    That's terrible. I'm so sorry to hear that. Funeral's are very hard, as using jokes would be highly inappropriate so it's a hard place to start. Also the subject usually makes you tear up and can make speaking difficult. I've had to do several, and I'm sorry this happened to you.
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That is not uncommon. A significant number of people are more frightened of public speaking than they are of death.

    But it can be overcome. It helps to remember that everyone else in the room is in the same boat. Each of them has stood, or will stand, where you are. You will all be brought closer together by this shared obstacle.

    You may even learn to enjoy speaking before a group. I did.
     
  22. LaGs
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    LaGs Banned

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    My aversion to public speaking is probably one of the reasons why i enjoy writing so much, in that it is quiet, reclusive and solitary. it's not that i'm a reclusive person, i get on well with people, it's just that i've found if you put me in a room where i have to speak to more than five people at once i panic! I noticed this unbelievably when i first went to university, and in retrospect, i made a big mistake in the course i've chosen lol
     
  23. TheSpiderJoe
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    TheSpiderJoe Senior Member

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    I might be the minority here but I love public speaking. Of course, this trait might hearken back to my days as an actor/amateur filmmaker but I digress.

    It sounds a bit odd that a workshop asks you to read your story out loud (but then again I've never been to a writing workshop before). My guess is that so everyone has a chance to hear your story instead of picking and choosing the ones they want to read. Extra exposure isn't a bad thing but I can empathize with your fear.

    To be honest, I have more of an issue publicly speaking in front of my friends/family than strangers. My best advice would be to practice in front of someone you trust and/or practice in general. You'd be surprised how easy the words flow when your doing it in public after a few practice sessions at home. Your mind will essentially memorize the flow and sort of carry your body through the presentation and before you know it, it'll be over.

    Big round of applause!
     
  24. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Minority yes, but certainly not the only one.

    It definitely comes easier with practice. Do it enough, and you'll begin to not only be comfortable with it, but you even might start to like it (yes, really).
     
  25. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Great advice. I'll make a note of it. Thanks Cogito.
     

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