Have you ever gone to a conference and attended any pre-conference events, such as an open mic where you can read from a selection of your own work? The prospect is both exciting and terrifying. You don’t like to speak in public, but… you want to read something.
What do you do?
First of all, don’t panic. Here are some tips to help you successfully make it through an open mic reading.
- This isn’t a competition. An audience at an open mic is friendly and supportive. They want to hear what you have to read and they want you to do well.
- Don’t apologize.
I don’t know when it became a trend to apologize for a work not being completely finished or for not being “as good as” someone else, but it is a trend that needs to stop. Don’t apologize for your work. Don’t apologize if you stumble over words because you’re nervous. Again, remember the people attending an open mic want you to do well. They will forgive you for things you think are unforgivable. There is no such thing as “unforgivable.”
- Have fun.
The idea of open mics at pre-conference gatherings is to get to know your fellow conference-goers. No one expects a professional-level reading. You are there to network, learn, and have fun. This all starts at the open mic.
I can’t promise that these tips will completely get rid of your nervousness when you step up to the mic, but they will help. If you were to follow one tip at the exclusion of the others, that would be “have fun.” If you do that, the other two are pretty much moot.