Speak Easy! Pt. 5 - Live on the Air!

    Before you read your poem at a poetry venue or radio program, remember that there are two types of people who participate in open mics: Those who just want to share their words with others; and those want to seriously pursue poetry and spoken word as a profession or a ministry. Regardless of your motivation for stepping up to the mic, it's always best to be fully prepared if you want to get and maintain your audience's attention.

     If you are calling in to read poetry on an Internet radio program, be sure that you know ahead of time the exact time zone of the start of the program if it's different to yours, and type of show you are participating in. It may also be a good idea to just listen in to the show at first, to hear the content. A caveat: Remember that each poetry show has its own set of rules ...and caters to different audiences! If you decide to read a poem on a particular show, make sure to follow the voice prompts that will put you in the line-up to go on the air, otherwise the host will not know that you want to read. Callers go on in the order that their hands "go up", meaning, that if you call in at 8 PM, but don't decide to notify the host that you want to read (by pressing a number on your phone's keypad) until 9:00 PM, everyone who put their hands up between 8:00 and 9:00 will read ahead of you. Some shows will have automated systems that will inform you that you are in line to read, "in queue"; others will not. Most shows have online chatrooms where callers can communicate with one another and also see where they are in the line-up, so you can watch the chatroom activity while listening to the show, or you can turn the volume down on your computer while watching and listening by speakerphone.

     When your turn comes up, the host will call out your prefix and say something like: "Area code 347 is on the air," or if there is more than one person on the call with the same area code, they will say the area code and first 3 digits of the number you are calling from.  Be ready with your paper, phone or document screen open and ready to go when you are called on.When the line is opened for you, don't be shy! Turn the volume down on your computer if it's up to prevent interference, speak out, introduce yourself, and tell the host the title of your poem. If they want to share small talk, feel free to communicate with them, and let them know it's your first time calling in. That helps them to gauge where their audiences are from. The rules for a radio show are a little more relaxed than for a poetry venue, and hosts are very friendly towards newcomers. Read your poem clearly, take your time and don't rush through it.The most important thing to do is to choose a poem that you feel comfortable reading to others, and read it with confidence and feeling. Make sure it's no longer than 2 to 2 1/2 minutes in length, although shorter poems are OK, too. Remember that you are sharing your truth with the world, and people need to hear what you have to say, so command their attention! Don't try to sound like other poets or spoken word artists you have heard or admire, find your own style and do what feels and sounds most natural to you. If you make a mistake, keep on going. It's always a good idea to read your poem over a few times by yourself before going on the air, just in case you get anxious, but don't  ever apologize for being nervous, or for making a mistake. Relax and have fun! remember, that the hosts want and need people to call in, so that they will have a show.  When you are finished, it's good to take a short pause and say: "End poem", some poets say: "That's that piece" to let the host know that they are done.  The host will usually ask you where people can find more of your work. Again, don't say much more than that, or break the flow of your poem in any way that will distract the listeners. If you have a blog or social media page and would like for others to find you, that's the time to let them know. 

     If you register for a free account on the website where the radio show is being hosted, you can also drop a link to your website where others in the chatroom can see it. Most shows are recorded and archived, so you can always go back and listen to them later.

    In Part 6 we will talk about live open mics and poetry venues...so until then, keep writing and sharing your truth!

    *Note: If you're not sure of where to start looking for online poetry shows, there are several that you can choose from on: www.blogtalkradio.com, and www.talkshoe.com.

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