Do you hate to read out loud? A lot of people seem uncomfortable reading orally and are really bad at it but it is so fixable. You see, reading should be like talking, not reading. If you read the way you talk, you know, comfortably, with pauses and gestures and facial expressions and ups and downs in your voice, then your audience will want to listen to you. For those who are drawn to acting, pretend you are in character and the casting director yells, "Action." If you read like you're reading a script, you will not get the part. If drama isn't your thing, then imagine you are telling a funny or amazing or really sad story to your good friends or family. The thing is...read as if you want to be heard.
Here are some great tips to help retrain your brain from poor oral reading habits:
- Open your mouth. Don't mumble or barely open your mouth to let the sounds escape.
- Hold your head up. Look up some all along your reading and look at different people or spots in the room.
- Speak phrases not individual words. After a few words, stop a little for effect. Make listeners want to listen.
- Use ups and downs. Pretend your voice is on a gentle roller coaster. Monotone is the best way to kill your listeners and they will tune you out and off. You're not dead when you speak so don't be dead when you read. Stop killing your listeners and they will pay attention and support your presentation.
- Punctuation is your friend. Question marks mean your voice will end up because you are asking a question. Exclamation marks mean your voice should be louder because you are amazed, excited, angry, scared. Show the emotion in your voice. Commas mean you should actually stop between the words or phrases for dramatic effect. Periods are calm so you can be too. Parentheses are like what you say as a side note or when you're whispering a secret in someone's ear or talking about someone who just walked by and you sort of don't want him or her to hear.
- Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Soften your face and eyes and relax while breathing. It's OK for people to see you breathe. They do it. Why can't you?
- Your audience is on your time schedule. Slow down, take your time. Relax. Do a good job. It's your time.
- Move that body. Shrug your shoulders, raise your eyebrows, smile, frown and use your hands. Put a hand in your pocket. Keep one leg slightly bent. Seem comfortable and you will start to feel comfortable. Don't keep your head down. It looks terrible, sends a message you have zero self-confidence and it blocks the sound from leaving your throat.
Read like you speak and you'll speak better when you read:-)