Why do people go to literary readings? To support their friends, to see what’s new, to meet other literary types, for a drink with extras. So you’ve got the audience there. A fantastic opportunity to let your words out in public. Let them go on their own. Trust them to do their job. Don’t go on stage with them. When my daughter, aged three , danced as a goldfish in a production of Pinocchio, much as I would have liked to, I did not accompany her on to the platform. I put my trust in her ballet teacher and her own ability to entertain. She did brilliantly.
Your words can do brilliantly too. They don’t need the accompaniment of jokes about microphones, whether or not to sit, ideas behind them or works that influenced them. What they do need is clear, confident delivery and silence afterwards both to indicate that you have finished and to give the audience time to digest them.
Of course it takes experience to be able to let your words out on their own. Just like children, the first time they go off to school on their own, you can’t help following them to make sure they get there safely. Once you see they can do it, you leave them to it.
You brought your words into the world with purpose and deliberation. Set them free.