A month or so ago, I was asked by our local public TV and radio station, WILL, if I would read an excerpt of Abraham Lincoln's writing, for the bicentennial celebration of his birth.
I was touched to be considered. Actually, you can't believe how touched I was;, it was as if Abe himself had personally extended the invitation. I am reading, on Thursday morning, a piece he wrote about women that helped the troops during the Civil War.
I agreed to do it immediately. You know, because you know how comfortable I am in front of a camera. How articulate. How cool.
I've had time, this time, to take Fightin Mad Mary's advice into consideration. I have practiced and practiced reading my piece, working on proper fluctuation, and pauses and pronunciation.
Thursday, I will be reading from a teleprompter, something I've only seen on TV shows. I don't have a teleprompter, so I developed, here, what I call my "Poor Man's teleprompter":
I have been given a 30-second reading to do, and a 1-minute reading. Here's my one-minute reading, with all of my super-secret notes to myself:
Fightin Mad Mary stressed, a year ago, that I get in front of a camera and practice, and play back the video and watch myself. At the time, it just wasn't something I had time to pull off, and when the time came, I sorely wished I'd have taken her advice.
This time, I did it. Clint filmed me with his camera. I see that I sway back and forth. Also front to back. I tilt my head when I accentuate a word. I don't smile.
So, I've practiced and practiced, and I'm getting a bit better, except for one thing.
That one-minute speech, when I read it at a comfortable rate, takes 1:35 to read. My technical assistant, Clint, can run the camera and a stopwatch at the same time, so we know it was 1:35.
I tried to read it faster, and shaved my time to 1:24. Faster again, and hit 1:16.
Just for kicks, then, I read the thing as fast as I possibly could. It's dark, but here's the video of my 1-minute attempt. I slur a few words, skip a few words, and changed a few words altogether, but kept going.
I spit it out, but honestly, did you hear a word I said? I have already e-mailed WILL and they have cut the text so that I can comfortably read it in my allotted 60-seconds.
I have one more evening to practice. And Thursday morning, I'll walk into a studio, wearing anything but green, as I've been instructed, and a little extra makeup, as suggested. My technical assistant Clint will be with me, reminding me to stand up straight, and to smile. I'm taking a bottle of water with me. I will NOT chew on tic-tacs. And I will press the palms of my hands together to calm my speech, like Boston Pobble taught me.
And I will try not to think about the sentence in the preliminary e-mail today that my appearance should be comfortable, and that I should wear "something that you will not mind being captured on TV for years to come."
Captured on TV for years to come?!!
Ok. My technical assistant has been upgraded. He is now also in charge of checking for spinach in my teeth, making sure my bra straps aren't showing, and signaling me if my mascara is flaking or running.
Wish me luck, I'll let you know how it goes!