In the last post, we talked about your body language when speaking. In this post, we are going to talk about reading to your audience.
Public Speaking is Counter-Intuitive
What your intuition tells you is a good thing is not always the truth. And what your instincts say not to do is often the best thing to do. Your natural intuition when you find out you have to do a public presentation is to write it all out and, read it to the audience word for word. That way you won’t mess up and your safe, and won’t have to experience that sinking feeling that comes when your brain blinks out leaving you speechless.
There are Situations Where Reading to Your Audience is called for
You may have a passage from a part of your research that is key to what you need for them to know. Or there may be quotations that are too long to just quote and you need to read them. The are various situations where reading to a group of people is called for. In those cases, be prepared for that to become part of your presentation. You should practice it and have some techniques down before the situation comes up. Then, pausing to read a segment of your presentation is not going to be so disruptive.
The Biggest Issue in Reading to Your Audience is Maintaining Eye Contact
Maintaining a continuous eye contact with your audience should be the first commandment of good public speaking.
The more you can look at your audience, catch their eye and maintain that relationship, the stronger your presentation. If you take a minute or two or three to look down and read to an audience, you lose all of that contact with them and momentum. As children, when you’re not looking at them, they will naturally begin to fidget and drift from what you’re doing.
The Truth is that People Don’t Like to be Read to
When you look down to read, your voice is no longer projecting out to the audience but down to the page. You lose at least half of the force of your diaphragm because you’re looking down to the power of your talk is vastly reduced by that simple interruption. When you look up again, you may have no idea that you have lost their attention and the forward motion of your talk is damaged.
Hand the Passage Out to The Audience as They Come In
One way to lessen the disruption of a reading passage is to hand out the passage to the audience beforehand and then direct them to it as you need to in the body of your talk. This gives them somewhere to look while you read. Then when you do read the material, don’t put it on the podium and look down at it. Hold it up to just below face level. That way you can read it and still maintain the force of your diaphragm and your eye contact over the top of the book or page.
Prep is Key
Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that because you’re going to read some or all of your presentations, that reduces your preparations. If anything, you should prepare more. Be sure you’re very familiar with the text so you’re not so much reading it as reciting it with notes. By giving them the text, you’re not so concerned with having to read it word for word correctly and because people read faster than they listen, they will be a step ahead of you and understand the text better.
Practice Reading the Passage
Resist the urge to read monotone like you were reading the phone book.
Learn to read the passage with inflection, with emphasis and even with emotion.
Work the passage into the flow of your presentation so you come right out of the reading and make the points from the reading that you need to make right away.
These techniques overcome the issues that reading to a crowd create in a presentation
Using them you will find success because the reading you need to have will flow naturally in the other parts of your speech. And when you can do that and you don’t lose your audience, you will have made a step forward in your public speaking evolution.
In this article, you learned why reading to your audience is usually not the best way to keep the attention of your audience to your speech.
Make sure you look for my next post as we will be discussing maintaining focus while speaking.
Keep the Shiny Side Up,