1. Limit the patter
Poet [name redacted] is famous for introducing his poems by telling a story that takes ten times as long to tell as it does to read the poem. You can give me a bit of info that will help me understand the poem. But reading a poem is like telling a joke: set it up without telling me the punch line.
2. Read slowly
Read like you enjoy the words on the page. But don’t stretch it out so much that each word loses any relation to the next. Varying the speed of your reading can be a good tactic.
3. DO NOT PAUSE AT THE END OF EACH LINE.
Seriously, folks, you’re driving me to all caps.
4. Don’t touch your hair or face while reading.
Watching someone constantly flipping her hair out of her face is distracting. As is watching someone scratch his face or, god forbid, take a drink of water in the middle of a poem. Put your hair back. Don’t twitch out of nervousness. Make sure you’re comfortable with your face cream and the cut of your shirt, and try to stay hydrated.
5. Don’t apologize or run down yourself or your work.
Poets walk the thin edge of obsolescence every day. Don’t give your audience one more reason to check their facebook status on their phone. Be a performer. Present with confidence and personality. You don’t have to believe in yourself, but believe in your work.
What am I forgetting?