There are many situations in which you may have to read aloud in front of a group. You might have to read a book for a group of children, a piece of technical documentation for your co-workers, or a religious passage during a marriage. You may worry that the audience won't understand or understand your message, or that you will make a mistake that embarrasses you. You can ease your concerns by spending time preparing and rehearsing your reading, practicing some public speaking skills, and learning how to deal with nerves. This will help you be calmer when you read aloud.
Part 1 of 4: Getting Ready to Read Aloud
Step 1. Underline the key words and phrases
Before reading aloud, review the text (if possible) and mark all key words and phrases. You will need to emphasize these important parts so that the audience can better understand your message. One of the ways you can emphasize these words or phrases is to speak more slowly, quickly, or gently; or with a higher voice.
- For example, if you are going to read the word "Boom!", You will need to increase the volume of your voice as you pronounce it. However, phrases like “Shh… Listen” may require a softer voice to emphasize them.
- If the text contains any dialogue, mark it as well. Consider using different voices to give each character personality.
- Do not trust yourself believing that you will be able to remember the points in which you will have to vary the speed or the volume of your reading. Make annotations in your text to know when to do it and to know the type of emphasis you should use.
Step 2. Determine at which point to breathe
Identifying the point where you should breathe will be vital to maintaining the continuity of your reading. You shouldn't constantly get out of breath in the middle of a sentence. Before reading the text to the audience, review it and mark the parts of the phrases and sentences in which you will take a break. You should breathe at these points.
If you need air, take a deep enough breath so that you can comfortably continue reading until the next marked resting point
Step 3. Plan the points where you will take a break
Choosing points in the text to pause at will provide emphasis and create a dramatic effect. This will also give your listeners a chance to take in what you just read and understand it. Again, mark the points in the text where you will pause, as this will remind you where to do it.
- You must indicate which marks represent the breath and which ones represent the pauses. The pauses should be longer than the time you take to take a breath.
- Pauses can also give you a chance to scan your audience and make sure they participate. You can modify your volume or emphasis based on audience reactions, if necessary.
Step 4. Observe others
It may be helpful to observe other people when they read, so you will take them as an example of what to do. As you observe them, pay attention to what they are doing to capture the interest of the audience or to make it easier for them to understand the text. Have a notepad handy so you can take notes as you talk.
Look for videos of interesting speakers on the Internet. A quick internet search will bring you some good examples, like Martin Luther King Jr. or former Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Study what they do and try to imitate them in your own speeches
Step 5. Practice
Before going out in front of the audience, practice reading the text aloud in front of a mirror or with some friends or family. In addition to calming the nerves you feel about reading aloud in front of others, this will also give you a chance to get used to what you have to say. Knowing the text will make your presentation more fluid and allow you to focus on actions that will help you connect with your audience and capture their interest.
- You may find it easy to practice reading in front of a mirror. Practice the types of facial expressions and body language that you would like to use during your reading, as it can help you connect with the text and the audience.
- You should practice emphasizing the words and phrases you have marked, breathing at the appropriate times, and adding any dramatic pauses that you have identified.
Step 6. Record yourself so you can observe your reading
Do a practice of your reading and record it on your phone or camera. Read the text as you would in front of an audience, using appropriate guidelines, breathing, and emphasis. When you're done, play the recording so you can see and hear yourself.
- Take note of the strengths and weaknesses you identify in the video so that you can stick with the things that work and change the things that don't.
- Pay attention to both your body language and your voice. You may notice peculiarities that you should take into account during your reading, such as poor posture or playing with your hair.
Step 7. Practice your reading in front of others
Before introducing yourself to your main audience, practice reading the text in front of some friends or family. In addition to providing an opportunity to rehearse, this will help ease any nervousness you may feel reading aloud in front of other people.
Ask your audience for feedback. They may be able to let you know if you need to speak louder or clearer. You can also ask if they were able to identify the key points in the text based on the emphasis you used
Part 2 of 4: Speak clearly and loud enough
Step 1. Keep your pace
When reading aloud, the speed with which you read can greatly influence your understanding and attention. Choose a pace that is not too fast or slow. You should read slowly enough so that the audience can understand everything you say and have adequate time to assimilate the information. However, you should also keep the story going and moving forward so the audience won't get bored.
- Nerves can make you speak faster than normal, even if it seems like you're not. Speak slower than usual when in front of an audience, even if it seems unnatural to you. You are probably talking faster than you think.
- When choosing speed, it is best to speak slower rather than faster. If you speak a little slowly, the audience will likely still pay attention to you. On the other hand, you could lose them completely if you speak too quickly.
Step 2. Practice the pronunciation
Muttering or mispronouncing words can make it difficult for your audience to understand what you are saying. You can improve your pronunciation by doing exercises that allow you to practice articulating some sounds with more emphasis.
- You can highlight each word that ends in the letters t, d, p, b or g; and pronounce them with a more pronounced tone. This will help you pronounce the words more clearly in your common speeches.
- Practicing tongue twisters daily can also help you articulate words more clearly. You can use a tongue twister like "Three sad tigers eat wheat in a wheat field."
- If there are words that you always mispronounce, spend some extra time learning the proper way to pronounce them, and practice them until you get it right.
Step 3. Warm up before speaking
On the day you are speaking in front of an audience, keep your voice warm and ready by singing or humming throughout the day. This will help to ensure that your voice is ready when you go to speak, so you don't sound fatigued. You can also repeat tongue twisters throughout the day to relax your tongue and lips.
Exaggerately repeat a phrase that helps you stretch your jaw and gives your tongue more flexibility
Step 4. Drink water and do not consume caffeine or greasy foods
What you eat and drink can influence the sound of your voice. You should drink plenty of water, including a glass before and after consuming a caffeinated drink. It is best not to consume caffeinated beverages at all, if possible. Mints, nuts, and other greasy foods can cause heartburn or hoarseness, so avoid them whenever possible.
If you can, bring water with you when you go to read. If your voice is a little hoarse, pause and take a sip of water
Part 3 of 4: Connect with the public
Step 1. Make eye contact
It can be difficult to make eye contact with the audience, as you will also have to read the words on the sheet. However, this will help you connect with your audience and get them interested in what you say. When reading aloud, look at the page for a brief moment (if possible) to preview the text. Then raise your head, make eye contact with the audience, and repeat the words you've read. Hold one finger on the last sentence to keep your location in the text.
- You should see the entire audience when you make eye contact. Look at the people in the front, center, and back; and on each side of the room. If you have trouble remembering it, take notes in the text to serve as a reminder.
- Also, make eye contact with specific people. Regardless of which direction you look, fix your gaze on one person as you say an entire sentence. This strategy can help you establish a deeper connection with your audience.
Step 2. Encourage the voice
Reading monotonously will not only bore your audience, but will also make it difficult for them to follow you and understand the main ideas of the story. When reading aloud, use inflection (which consists of emphasizing certain words or phrases) and change the pitch and volume of your voice to generate
- For example, if you're reading a story, speak higher during a very exciting part, and use a lower tone for thoughtful or sad parts.
- If you are reading a story with several characters, give each one a different voice. This can be difficult, but determine how each character's voice should sound and practice them ahead of time.
Step 3. Use appropriate facial expressions
When reading, remember to use facial expressions to enhance the text. You can use facial expressions to show surprise, happiness, disappointment, concern, anger, relief, and many other emotions.
- For example, if you smile, you will show the public that you believe in what you are reading. In turn, the public will be more interested.
- If you are going to read an excerpt in which a surprising event occurs, show the surprise on your face by widening your eyes and opening your mouth.
Step 4. Use body language
In addition to using body language to express confidence in your message (such as maintaining eye contact and smiling), you can also use it to convey the message you are trying to convey with your reading. Move your head, arms, and body in ways that reinforce what you want to express. Any body language you use should be purposeful and premeditated.
- An example might be nodding your head as you read a section of text that you want the audience to agree with.
- Don't use body language that doesn't contribute to your reading. For example, you can distract your audience by waving your hands for no reason while reading.
Part 4 of 4: Dealing with your nerves
Step 1. Breathe
Doing a simple breathing exercise before reading aloud can help calm your nerves. By learning to control your breathing, you can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and bring your body into a state of calm and relaxation. Calm your nerves with the following breathing exercise:
- Sit still and with good posture in a comfortable place.
- Close your eyes and begin to inhale and exhale through your nose.
- Inhale for 1 second, hold your breath for another second, and then exhale for a count of 4. Count 1 second before breathing again.
- Set a timer for 5 minutes and practice this breathing pattern the entire time. When you're done, you should notice a difference in your mood.
Step 2. Take a confident posture
An open and powerful posture can help you look and feel more confident. Keep your shoulders and hips at a right angle, and sit or stand up straight. Keep your feet firmly planted at about 1 foot (30 cm). Maintain a firm posture both before and during your presentation to reduce nervousness and help you connect with the audience.
If you have a podium or table in front of you where you can rest your text, rest your hands there and lean forward a bit as you read. This can help you look (and feel) more authoritative
Step 3. Focus on the people who are interested
Regardless of the topic, some people in the audience may not agree with what you say, or are bored, distracted, or even asleep. Ignore them and focus your attention on people who are interested in what you read. Focusing your attention on these people will help you feel more relaxed and confident.
Look for people who nod their heads, sit upright, and make eye contact with you
Step 4. Turn nerves into excitement
It is normal to feel nervous if you have to do something in front of a group of people. You could show signs of nervousness, such as sticky hands, sweating, shaking, or butterflies in your stomach. However, when you start to feel nervous, repeat something like, "You're not nervous, you're excited!" If you convince yourself that you are excited (which can present many of the same symptoms of nervousness), this can help you relax and feel more confident.
Step 5. Don't expect perfection
Despite the saying, "Practice makes perfect," accepting ahead of time that you are going to make mistakes can help you deal with any jitters. No matter how hard you practice, chances are you will stutter a word or two while reading. Fear of public speaking is common, so many people in the room will be sympathetic to any mistakes you make.
If you make a mistake, just keep going. For example, if you use the wrong word or omit a line of text, chances are the audience didn't even notice. It continues as if nothing had happened, unless the error affected the understanding of the public
- Do your best to relax while you read. If you are nervous, this can cause you to make mistakes. If there are certain actions you can take to calm yourself, do them before reading aloud. Try different strategies until you find one that works for you.
- Keep in mind that no one expects you to be perfect. People generally know that reading aloud is stressful, and most of them will be understanding if you make a mistake.
- Keep hydrated. Drinking a lot of water can help prevent your voice from cracking or draining, especially if you read aloud frequently.