My 'Read, Look Up and Say' Method for Public Reading

In this article - a short course, actually - you will learn the skills to enable you to read a speech or a story while maintaining eye contact with your audience.

The skills you learn here will help you in Public Speaking, the topic of another article for the future. So, because you have subscribed to my blog, you won't miss it.

Let me begin by saying that there are two ways to read:

1. Privately, to yourself.

2. Publicly, to an audience ranging from one to more than one person.

And, there are two situations in which you would do reading (out loud) in public. They are:

· Reading a prepared speech.

· Reading a story to someone e.g. your child at bedtime, or to your class at school.

When you read to yourself, you don’t usually read aloud. For most of the time, you read with your eyes, perhaps occasionally murmuring, or whispering the words as you read. As well, you can reread parts, if you do not understand those parts the first time.

Private reading, therefore, is for pleasure (a novel, a short story, or a poem) or for study (a textbook).

On the other hand, public reading involves public speaking while making sure you read every word that’s written, and perhaps having to correct yourself if you discover that you made a mistake.

There are two ways to read in public.

· Head and eyes down, concentrating on the text.

· Reading the text but maintaining eye contact with your audience.

So, let’s look at the first way. You are reading the text aloud, not looking at your audience. You finish, you look up, and your audience has fallen asleep, are busy checking their phones, or have left the room. Or your child, to whom you’ve been reading a bedtime story, fell asleep ten minutes ago.

But, you don’t want to make a mistake in your reading, do you? Of course not! So, you concentrate on reading every word, possibly word by word by word.

As well, if your head is down, you are not projecting your voice because your throat is constricting your voice. You sound bad.

Overall, then, your reading performance is not an interesting and engaging experience for your audience - or you, as you appear to be more interested in your written speech than your audience.

Obviously, the second way is preferable.

Learn this technique and you will not only sound and appear better, but your audience will be more engaged with you, as you will be with them.

When you read aloud in this manner:

· Every word you say will be loud and clear.

· You will be showing interest in your audience and your audience will be showing interest in you and your speech (as long as it's an interesting topic of course!

· Most importantly, you can check to see if your audience is understanding what you are reading.

Simply put, the method I will teach you is this:

Read, Look Up, and Say. Repeat.

It’s not a revolutionary method; it is well known. But, for this course, I believe it is fundamental. It is the basis for other skills in learning English. As I said, it is why it is the prerequisite for the follow-up article on Public Speaking.

And while it is a simple concept, it must be practiced until it becomes automatic.

In effect, you are training your eyes to help you become a more ‘active’ reader. (More on that later.)

OK, so let’s break it down, step by step.

Step 1: READ

During this part, you’ll be reading with your eyes, not your mouth.

To make that clear, here’s something to try.

Read a sentence aloud and time it, or have someone listen to you read and they can time you.

Ready? Read this sentence:

“To make that clear, here’s something to try.”

How long did it take to read it (with your mouth)? 3 seconds? 4 seconds?

Now, try reading it with your eyes. Do not speak it as you read.

Read this sentence: “To make that clear, here’s something to try.”

Maybe you also read the part at the front: “Read this sentence:” as well, with your eyes.

How long? Maybe a second, including the extra part. Certainly not 3 or 4 seconds. Like taking a photograph: CLICK!