In recent weeks I’ve done two open-mics – my first two, ever. Here are my tips:
- Go to some open-mics as an audience member. I found this especially helpful to learn how to introduce a poem.
- Take a selection of poems to read. One event was extremely busy so open-mic poets were limited to one poem each. The other event was quieter, with two halves – poets could read one poem in each half. Be prepared!
- Take different types of poems and, if possible, take at least one poem which might raise a laugh or a small chuckle – just in case.
- Be prepared to assess the atmosphere and tone of the evening – of the two open-mics I attended, one was more boisterous and jovial (I wish I’d taken a small-chuckle type of poem to this one – unfortunately I’d only packed one poem), the other was more sedate, even though alcohol was involved.. which leads me to..
- Have a small drink of something once you arrive at the venue (but not too small). If you don’t know the difference between large and small, stick to cola or orange juice. If alcohol isn’t your thing, I’d recommend a flower remedy or deep breathing techniques – whatever it takes to keep you calm. I know that some people avoid alcohol until after they’ve read – only you know how it will affect you! But before this..
- Practise reading your poems aloud. Use a recording device (I’ve started using my phone).
- Practise what you’ll say to introduce your poem/s. Keep it short but say something – for instance – how you came to write it, what the poem’s about (without giving everything away), whether it’s in a particular form, etc.
- Learn your poem off by heart. You don’t have to read it without your book/pamphlet/sheet of paper, but if you know your poem inside out and back to front, you’ll feel more confident and you’ll be able to look up at the audience from time to time – you’ll know from your research as an audience member that this makes the audience feel more included – you want them on your side.
- Remember to greet your audience, say hello, hi, good evening, and tell them your name. Thank them for listening.
- Stand up straight (unless you’re a stylish sloucher).
- Wear something comfortable that you don’t have to worry about.
- Enjoy yourself.
I would LOVE to hear your top tips and experiences at the open-mic – how was it for you?