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Literary Reading Performances

Haas Fine Arts Center | Room 162 (Foster Art Gallery)
Thursday, April 13, 2023

Session A | 3-4 p.m.

Reading sessions will be 60 minutes in length, comprised of four performances. Each performance will be a maximum of 15 minutes and length and feature single or multiple original poetry, prose and other literary readings. The purpose of a reading is to share your creative research with an audience. 

Professional Courtesy  

NCUR offers an opportunity for participants to observe, learn, and practice professional etiquette common to all disciplines. Presenters should remain in the room until all presentations in their sessions are complete. The other presentations may offer new insights, and all presenters deserve the same audience and respect. Spectators at sessions should enter and exit oral and performing arts session rooms between (not during) presentations.  Since the readings will be held adjacent to the art gallery, presenters and spectators are expected to adhere to customary gallery etiquette.


Reading Guidelines

  • Try to visit the location of your presentation ahead of time to familiarize yourself with the space. 

  • You should arrive at the gallery at least 15 minutes prior to the start of your session to check in with the room monitor

  • Plan to attend the entire hour-long session. 

  • You will go in the sequence listed in the conference program. 

  • Refrain from coming late or leaving early

  • Plan your presentation with your audience in mind

  • Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse!  

    • Practice without timing yourself first to get comfortable presenting.

    • Then practice timing yourself to see how long your presentation lasts.

    • Make adjustments as necessary

    • Notice any idiosyncrasies that may distract your audience (e.g., fidgeting, pacing, reading, voice too loud, voice too soft)

  • Think about your speaking style.

    • Can you speak loudly and clearly?

    • Can you modulate your voice appropriately?

    • Do you tend to sound monotone when you give presentations?

  • Show respect for fellow presenters – ask questions and pay attention when they’re performing and speaking. 

  • Consider planning out the answers to anticipated questions, regarding your sample, analyses, future directions, etc.

  • Avoid colloquial slang, derogatory terms, etc.  

  • Thank your mentor(s) and others for their contributions. 

  • If someone is attacking you or otherwise being rude, remember that this usually comes from someone who wants to show off or appear smart in front of everyone. The other audience members will recognize the rudeness and be on your side!  Stay calm, answer as best you can, and acknowledge it when they make a good point (smiling and nodding can disarm an attacker). 

  • People will often talk to you right afterward. Avoid running out right after your presentation if you can help it. 

  • Audience members may email for a copy of your presentation or to ask further questions. Be sure to follow up with them.

What to Avoid

  • Avoid reading from prepared notes; the audience will maintain interest better if you can speak extemporaneously directly to them. It's also hard to make eye contact with the audience if you are reading from notecards.

  • Avoid distracting behaviors or verbal tics (“um,” “like,” and “uh”).

  • Consider your body language (e.g., arms crossed can come across as you not wanting to be there). 

Handling Audience Questions 

  • Be sure to leave some time in the end.

  • If a questioner is soft-spoken, repeat or paraphrase the question so everyone hears. 

  • Avoid long, meandering answers. 

  • Don’t make something up if you don’t know the answer. Offer to look it up and get back to the person, and be open to someone in the audience knowing the answer. 

  • Give positive reinforcement to questioners (smiling, nodding, “that’s a good question”). 

  •  Avoid turning your back to the audience.