One of the first things you’ll learn in Toastmasters is that you should never read your speech to your audience.
Never except when there is no other way.
Never except when your employer insists on it.
Never unless you are being quoted word for word.
Never unless you are speaking at a lawyer’s convention.
So when never becomes your latest endeavor, how do you proceed?
How to Read a Speech Effectively
1. Use the Ronald Reagan Method. Our former president was a master of reading from a script. His secret… He would look down at the written word and quickly memorize the first sentence. He would then look up at the audience and read the sentence from memory. He would then look down, memorize the next sentence, and then look back up at the audience and deliver. He would never speak while looking down. With practice, he carried this off as if he had no notes at all.
2. Use a Teleprompter. Presidents and other politicians use teleprompters all the time. The secret is to make them invisible by looking past them at your audience. Making eye contact with your audience builds rapport, so with practice, you’ll be able to see the words and your audience too. The further away the Teleprompter is the less your eyes will move reading the text. CuePrompter.com is a free site that will quickly turn your computer or iPad into a teleprompter. Just paste in your text into the onscreen box, set your speed, and viola, you have a the text scrolling in a very smooth fashion. Using this with an iPad is wonderful, because you can place your iPad on the lectern and have it prompt you without being intrusive. The ProPrompter app for the iPad gives you additional flexibility since you don’t need a web connection to use it.
3. Use the Second Grade Teacher Method. We have all had books read to us as a kid by our parents or teachers. They just open the book, read the text, and then show us the pictures. While this may not be the preferred method, it does work in a pinch when presenting to small groups. It is especially effective if you you treat your adult audience like second graders, by saying class… pay attention and other phrases only a librarian would be proud of.
Overall: whichever reading method you use be sure to enhance your presentation by using vocal variety, generous gestures, and making eye contact with your audience during pauses. The big secret to making this work is to practice, practice, practice. Once you get the hang of it, your audience will hardly notice you reading at all.
Question: What method do you use to read a speech?