Speak Easy 2016… and Tips for Spoken Word First-Timers

SE_PNGA new year, a fresh new look for Speak Easy at The Sip Club in Stretford, Manchester. After a successful first three events in Autumn last year, we’ve gathered our gorged selves and turned to the giddy horizon of 2016 with a bold new poster and a fresh outlook. We’re excited to see how Speak Easy will develop over the next twelve months and we’re starting to formulate some rather thrilling plans behind the scenes.

But first we need readers. We ain’t gonna survive if no-one turns up to read. So pick up, buck up, and sign up: send an email to events@thesipclub.co.uk to bag yourself a slot at one (or indeed more) of our first three 2016 events. Here be the dates:

  • Thursday 14th January
  • Thursday 4th February
  • Thursday 3rd March

As ever, we are especially keen to encourage first timers to the Speak Easy stage. We’re lucky to have a particularly stress-free environment and a delightfully welcoming audience, perfect to calm even the nerviest of nerves. No pressure, no heckling – not even a microphone to make your voice sound all big and scary. Just a quiet room with some warm people and a little nudge of gentle encouragement.

And in the spirit of encouragement, here are my top 5 tips for Spoken Word first-timers:

  1. Slow Down – relax, take your time, tell the story. Read slower than you think you should. Allow time to let people laugh at the funny bits and reflect on the sad bits. Don’t worry about going over time because…
  2. Practice Beforehand – …you will have already practiced. In most cases you’ll know how long you have on stage (usually around 5 minutes), so time yourself so you know you’re hitting the mark. Also, its good to let your mouth get around the words as well as your eyes – so practice out loud!
  3. Look at the Audience – this is often a big fear but looking at the audience can genuinely help you to calm down and it will draw them in. You will get them on-side. You will dominate them, command them, make them tremble at your 5 minutes of glory. So don’t hide behind your paper, don’t look over their heads. Look at them. Into. Their. Eyes
  4. Print your Words Big – do your future self a favour and make the text big. You never know how dimly lit a stage will be and not being able to see the words can derail your momentum at any given moment.
  5. Perform it – Spoken Word is just another form of theatre. Don’t be afraid to get your whole body into the act. Get your hands moving, gesticulate, use props, dress up in costume – everything and anything goes, generally speaking. As long as it entertains the audience, its fair game. So don’t hold back!

For more tips on performing literature, do have a look at my longer blog post on the matter. And if you’ve made a new year’s resolution to read your writing to an audience, do come and join us at Speak Easy.

David Hartley


Flashtag presents… The Short Short Story Slam

April 22nd. Writer vs Writer. Blood and ink will flow. The Flashtag Short Short Story Slam is back…



Here’s how it’s all going to go down. Twelve psyched writers will be paired off into head-to-head skirmishes, and then take turns to read out a tiny story. The audience votes for story and/or writer they liked the best and that guy or gal goes through to round two. If they survive another round, they reach the final. If they win that, they win cash. It’s like Street Figther but real, with cash, and without Ryu’s hadouken. Although you never know what tricks these writers will pull out of their bags when cornered…

The first Short Short Story Slam was held in Didsbury in 2013 for the Didsbury Arts Festival and it went down a storm. Didsbury Life described it as “…perhaps the best of the Didsbury Arts Festival – something unique, home-grown and radical, a real stand-out event.” The winner that time was one Trisha Starbrook who took to the stage having never read her stories aloud before. She won the crowd, smackdowned the opposition and grabbed the coveted victor’s belt while shouting; ‘Are you not entertained?!?’ Trisha is back for the second slam and angrier than ever, apparently. Other fighters this time include writer and film-maker Simon Sylvester, poetry slam regular Mark Mace Smith and one half of Manchester’s Bad Language collective Joe Daly.

This is an event not to be missed. This Tuesday, April 22, Gullivers Pub, Oldham Street, Manchester. The fighting starts at 7:30, the entry fee is a measly £1. Not for the fainthearted.

www.shortshortstoryslam.co.uk / flashtagmcr.wordpress.com / twitter.com/flashtagmcr