Recently, I had a poetry reading coming up where some of my colleagues and I would be reading original poetry we had written. I was put in charge of publicity, and I really wanted to do a great job attracting people to the event.

After many interactions with various people, I began to develop a strategy that worked 4 out of 5 times. Now I want to share with all you poets out there trying to gain a following. Below I will walk you through the steps alongside a conversation I had with my friend in an attempt to convince her to come to the reading.

When I happened upon my good pal Sharon sitting alone, I thought what better than go up and convince her to support me that evening. I started off with the well-worn tactic of asking what she was doing that night. She took one look at my face, glanced down at my crotch (presumably to check for engorgement), decided I wasn’t asking her out, then said, “Oh, nothing much.”

Lucky for me, a full erection is easily concealed. This is the point where I decided to enact my step-by-step process, insuring Sharon would definitely attend my poetry reading.

Step 1: Hype up the refreshments you know they like.

Having free food and drink is a must, as some people will go to almost anything to get free food. Depending on who you speak to, make sure to hype up the refreshment most relevant to them. If he’s a drinker, talk about the booze. If she loves cheese, talk about that excellent spread you scored from your local gourmet grocery store.

Example:

“Well, I’m performing in this event tonight at 7pm if you’re free, Sharon?”

“Will there be food?”

“…yes.”  I knew I had just hit the point of no return, where I had no choice but to fudge the truth in order to get her there, and then apologize afterward, “There will be light refreshments.”

“Like what?”

I looked off in the distance, I had to think of a lie. My mind ran back to my days in an improv troupe looking for inspiration, which made me think of how it actually is a successful career, dad, because many improve alumni go on to stardom, such as being on SNL, like Robert Downey Jr., who most people forgot was on SNL, but Iron Man brought his career back and—I realized I had been silent for almost a minute now.

“Shawarma. We have shawarma. Complete with one of those vertical rotating meat sticks.”

She looked off in the distance, her mind running with wherever that description could take her. She returned, “Hmm, I’m more of a gyro kind of girl.”

Step 2: Find something in common with their interests.

Branching off from just food, try to find things about the event that spark their interest. If they have the hots for one of your friends attending, make sure to bring it up. If the reading is in a beautiful garden and they love nature, there’s your in. Don’t limit the event to just the poetry, develop the atmosphere.

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Example:

“Puppies!” I blurted out. “We’ll be giving away free puppies to the first 50 people to come.”

“What kind of puppies?”

“A variety. Warm and snuggly, all fresh from the oven. I mean, well, we have ten dogs all pregnant with five puppies.”

“That sounds like a big commitment. Not sure I want to raise one from birth.”

Step 3: Make them feel guilty.

If they’re still not budging, it’s time to play the guilt card. Oftentimes, you’re asking someone you already know to come see you read. Use your personal history with that person to make them feel guilty for not coming.

Furthermore, if you make it seem as if your future as a famous poet hinges on their attendance, they just might feel their conscience tugging them your way.

Example:

 “Well, do you want them to die? All unclaimed puppies will be sacrificed. So, we need at least 50 people there.”

“You’re killing the puppies? That’s horrible!”

“No, pssh, we’re not. It’s just that there is a giant pit at the other end of the room, and the unclaimed puppies might fall into it.”

“How will the puppies get all the way across the room?”

“The floor is slick with blood and afterbirth, and the puppies are being popped out with such immense force, they will just slide straight across the floor and right into the pit.

“I’ve seen dogs give birth, there isn’t that much blood and afterbirth.”

Step 4: Make it sound like an event not to miss.

Okay, now they may think you’re begging too much and that must mean the event will suck. Sweep that notion right off the table. This isn’t just any poetry reading, it is the poetry reading. If you make your event sound like it will be unimaginably awesome, an awesomeness the likes of which will never to be seen again, it is a difficult offer to pass up.

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Example:

“No, it comes from…pregnant women. See, after the first 50 people who receive puppies, the next 15 get a newborn baby, birthed right on the spot.”

“Is it five women pregnant with triplets?”

“No, three women with five babies each, each baby conceived from a different sexual experience. This kind of thing only happens once ever 10,000 years.”

“And are these babies sliding into the death pit, too?

“Nope, that would be inhumane. They have uncut umbilical cords that hold them back from sliding. We hand out machetes, and you have to cut the umbilical cord of the baby you want. Don’t miss.”

Step 5: Remind them about the free food.

Look, if you give your pitch and after all that they’re still giving you “Maybe” and “We’ll see,” bring the food back up. This time, make sure to make them hungry. It’s free food! They can’t pass that up. Remind them of the time they crashed a wedding just to get free cake.

Example:

“How are you getting these women to do this?”

“We put the entire budget into paying the pregnant women for their contribution.”

“Then where’d you get the money for the shawarma?”

“Well, we just put a giant spinning spike in the open pit and hope some of the puppies fall onto it. Then we take the spike out at the end, and voila, shawarma.”

“So the refreshments won’t be served until the end? Not sure I can wait that long.”

“It’s worth the wait, it’s veal good.”

Step 6: Make sure they like poetry.

Maybe this should have been the first step, but it’s far too obvious and successful to be used first. Simply ask friends who are interested in poetry to come to your event. If they kinda like it, then it’s the perfect way for them to spend a Thursday night and they’ll most likely say yes.

Example:

 “Say, what kind of event is this, anyway?” Sharon asked.

“Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that. It’s a poetry reading.”

“Poetry? I love poetry. I didn’t know you write!”

“Yeah, I’m just good at coming up with stuff, I guess.”

“Sweet! Yeah, of course I’ll be there.”

“Coolio.”

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