Reading Your Work

Prepare
Print out your work double spaced in a large font (courier size 12 or 14 is extra legible). Make sure page breaks occur at natural pauses, not in the middle of a sentance. Warm up your voice (see below) then read through your entire text–out loud, at full voice, standing up–at least five times and preferably ten. This will help you memorize portions of the text so you can make periodic eye contact with your audience.

Mark your text with red or pink where you will pause, or take a breath. Underline difficult or important words in light blue. You might need to edit out some dialogue tags or long descriptions. Read slower than you think you should, especially at the beginning. Be animated. Act out the voices. Vary your pace and your pitch. Enlist friends to help you and ask them for feedback. Give your audience something they can’t get simply from reading your work.

Physical preparation
Do a few stretches to keep loose. Warm up your voice with humming, singing, yawns and tongue twisters. Blow your nose. Check your teeth and your fly. Don’t wear a hat. Do wear your hair away from your face. Put on lip balm so you won’t need to lick your lips.

Verbal warm ups
Hum the theme to the Lone Ranger. Sing scales.
Repeat the following tongue twisters three or more times each;
You know New York, unique New York, you know you need unique New York.
Red leather, yellow leather.
Peggy Babcock.
Lilly Lolly.
Whether the weather is good, or whether the weather is bad, we’ll be together whatever the weather. Whether you like it or not.

At the reading
Keep a glass of water handy. Walk calmly to the podium. Stand for a moment before you begin to let your audience take you in. Remember, you’re a messanger, not a beauty contestant. Don’t rush through your text. Imagine your voice projecting to the farthest corner of the room. Breathe. Make eye contact with all parts of the room. Have fun.

It’s better to be silly than dull.  Better to be too loud than too soft.  Better to be too slow than too fast.  Better to be too brief than too long–Max DeLaure.

Public speaking tips from Toastmasters International.

Thank you to University of San Francisco instructor Max DeLaure, and Speech Coach Nancy Shelby for these tips.

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