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7. Setting Up To Succeed

There! It happened! In presenting my poem, "Watching You From the Beach," I flubbed a line. Flubs are inevitable. Honestly, it was a relief to get it out of the way. It let us address the unrealistic expectation of perfectionism and talk about strategies for recovery.

We wondered where it's best to start over. From the beginning of the phrase, the line, the stanza, or the whole poem? We agreed the decision is the poet’s best judgment on the fly, and we talked about ways to set ourselves up to succeed.

  • Print poems in a larger font, and consider using serif fonts, which are designed to guide the eye in the act of reading.

  • If the lectern is adjustable, lift it to a comfortable height just below your chin or hold your page up. This way, your voice and eyes can easily project out to your audience, and the visual adjustment between the audience and the page is reduced.

  • Mark the score as an actor or musician would, using diacritical marks or inventing your own. Note even where you could pause, smile or acknowledge laughter or other audience response.

  • Adjust where the podium is in relation to the light, if necessary.

  • Practise looking from the page to focus points around the room and back to the page.

  • Use your finger to mark you place while you look away.

  • Maybe it’s time for new glasses! If you’re getting progressive lenses, give yourself time to adapt to the experience of different focal ranges before you schedule your next presentation.

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