At a recent book event, I listened to several authors discuss and read from their books. I was surprised by how many authors mumbled, spoke too softly, and failed to engage the audience while reading an excerpt. No matter how eloquent the prose or how descriptive the scene, failing to captivate the people who came explicitly to learn more about your books can only result in missed sales.
To maximize your reading opportunity, select an ideal passage, and then read it with aplomb.
Choose what to read
First, select a passage that best represents the book. It does not have to be from the beginning, but can come from any part of the book just as long as there is a definite beginning, middle, and end. Pick a scene that demonstrates conflict or dramatic tension or that showcases an underlying theme. Pick something that does not require a lot of plot explanation or backstory—something that can stand on its own. Most important, make sure the selection piques the listeners’ interest and leaves them wanting more.
Remember, you don’t have to read verbatim. You can choose parts from a long scene that make sense, just as long as there is an ending.
Read to engage the audience
To be an effective reader, you need to create an illusion of spontaneity. To do this, pay attention to pacing, animation, tone, inflection, and pauses.
Pacing refers to the speed or tempo you use to read the passage. Usually a comic selection is light and quick, while a serious one requires a slower reading rate. Just don’t be monotonous. Use rhythm (the cadenced flow of vocal sounds) and inflection (changes in pitch) to increase the auditory experience for the audience.
Become a ham. Use gestures, facial expressions, and body movements to draw in your listeners and make them part of the story.
Make eye-contact with each person in the room. Use your finger, a ruler, or piece of paper to help you keep your place as you look up from the book to catch someone’s eye, and then look down again. Look at people in different parts of the room.
To become a successful book reader takes practice. Read and reread the passage out loud. Don’t memorized. If needed, mark the book with pauses. Use arrows to indicate inflections. Do whatever is necessary to make yourself comfortable with the reading. Your audience will love you for taking the time to do this.
- How to Read To An Audience
- 3 Practical Tips on Reading Your Work to an Audience
- Choosing a Book Excerpt
Have you read a excerpt from your book? How did you select the passage? How was the reading received? Leave a comment, we’d love to hear.