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Interpretive Reading; Impress Audience with 10 Tips

Updated on March 19, 2015
brakel2 profile image

Tips for writing and public speaking evolved from Audrey's participation in a Toastmasters' organization.

Elegant Reading Area
Elegant Reading Area

Types of Readings Impress Audiences

Today, someone may write a book and do a reading at a book signing or belong to an organization which teaches interpretive reading. On the other hand, a reading could take place at a church service or funeral or at for a children’s group at a library. Once a person has achieved a high level of public reading ability, the voice of that person can be an inspiration that soars like a songbird high in the sky and totally enthralls an audience. Success depends on interpretive reading. The art of public reading is fun, informative, challenging, but needs certain elements to be successful.

Vocal Variety. Tone, Volume


10 Tips for Readings

1. Voice Volume

Public reading requires that your voice is loud and clear. You must speak so that people at the back of the room can hear you, and you can hear your voice bounce off the wall. The volume will vary depending on the selection you are reading. If you are doing a scary tale, your voice may be very loud in certain parts, whereas a fairy tale might be a soft volume.

2. Speed

You must also read slowly and allow for pauses, often where punctuation marks appear. In must not pause at the end of a line but where the thought ends. You might slow down for suspense and speed up for excitement.

3, Interpret

You must do interpretive reading, and peruse selection, until you understand the author’s intention. If you are the author, you should be able to interpret your own work. It just takes practice and more practice until you can do it without even thinking.

4.Vocal variety

Using the correct vocal variety ensures you have read the piece several times and understand the author’s thoughts. Your voice might be dramatic, fearful, lilting, a low pitch, or a high pitch, all of which facilitate the reading.

5. Rhythm

Rhythm is to a public reading what it is to music by producing a beat. Long and short emphasis is given to words and syllables, and alliteration and personification help with the rhythm. Poetry has specific patterns for rhythm. When you do interpretive reading, the audience gets satisfaction from the rhythm in the selection.This element is very important in poetry, especially, so that you read, giving the poem the rhythm intended by the type of poem.

6. Tone

The tone is set by the words in a selection. It can be formal, informal, solemn, playful, or arrogant, along with many other options. Arrogance might be set by words such as smug, further emphasized by facial expressions. A scripture would be formal and solemn, while a meditation might be reverent and set with humility,

7. Eye contact

Even though you have the material on the lectern, you must know the material so well, that you can frequently look up to see the audience, focusing on an area of room at a time to impress your audience.There is a difference of opinion about eye contact when reading a poem and reading a play. Toastmasters International suggests that you not look at the audience for a poem or play, while other sources say to look up when reading a poem.

Eye Contact

Eyes show emotions.
Eyes show emotions.

8. Appropriate Selections

Not all selections are appropriate for reading aloud, so you must choose carefully. If you read an excerpt from a play, you must ensure that there are only about two characters so the audience can follow the progression. Some poems fit more easily; for example, Rudyard Kipling poems. A selection from a novel entails material that has a plot, and you must mark the portions that you select, and eliminate anything in between.

Three poetry contest winners in recent years spoke about the birth of a foal, knitting on a train, and life after a miscarriage. All three poems were filled with descriptive phrases which lent themselves to possible winners.The birth of a foal selection contained these words, "mare with wild eyes, breath filling cold air with steam."

Perusing Book
Perusing Book

9. Gestures

Some readers do small appropriate gestures, while others frown on this procedure. A woman read a meditation, selecting a few gestures, such as walking down a path and pushing something out of the way. She also closed her eyes for part of the reading. A critique showed varying opinions about this addition to the reading.

Interpretive Reading

Woman Reader
Woman Reader

10. Practice To Impress Your Audience

You can never practice too much for a reading; well, to a point.You should practice in front of a mirror, using all the elements in this piece. As you hear your voice tone and volume, the selection means more to you and will to your audience. Practicing for someone assists in the feeling you might get from an audience. A college student practiced every speech in front of a friend in a private dorm area, receiving outstanding grades on her speeches. You might consider any suggestions the listener offers as possible changes to the presentation. Select a listener you feel may have good ideas and some familiarity with speaking ability.


A young woman did a reading at a Toastmasters' meeting on "Forgiveness." The reading impressed one listener to the point that she planned to immediately forgive someone. Another person gave a reading on wearing hats for warmth and coolness that made the audience laugh. Readings that inspire laughter can change the mood of someone's day. At a funeral, the words of the readers can console the listener. Readings should be so masterful that they spur emotion or action in the audience.

Famous statesmen have left words for posterity without ever realizing that fact. While you may impress an audience by using the 10 tips for an interpretive reading, you may never be famous. However, any effort to follow the lead of these dignitaries and this piece, will remove you from the realm of the ordinary into an attempt to elevate the level of public or interpretive reading into the sublime.

This hub is dedicated to the late Jim Verdugo, an outstanding toastmaster, from a club in the greater Oklahoma City area. The author was a toastmaster for seventeen years where she learned about the topic of this hub and performed selections.

Poetry Reading

Michelle Herman and Excellence


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    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi drbj Thanks for reading my hub and for your comments. Vocal variety is very important, as it does keep your attention and makes the speech more interesting. I love to read your hubs, and think you are so funny. One story was so funny, I memorized it and told it to others. I will drop by soon. Blessings, Audrey

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      4 years ago from south Florida

      All your speaking tips are important but vocal variety may be one of the most significant, Audrey. A speaker who doesn't use it causes me to lost interest and want to pinch myself to stay awake.

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Thanks so much for reading my hub and making kind comments, Jo. Speaking is not my favorite thing to do right now, but I needed to have the experience. When I was younger, I loved it, but now I love to teach about public speaking and reading. Sometimes things are more fun at different points in your life, I guess.They do say some writers hate to read their own creations to an audience, so you are not alone. I enjoy your hubs and will return to read more of them. Blessings, Audrey

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Although I'm required to teach students and do presentations for work purposes, I don't like public speaking, I dread having to read my poems to an audience. Mayby one day in the not too distant future I'll return to put this interesting hub to good use. Useful and informative.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      4 years ago from New York

      Holding an audience's attention is certainly based on everything you've said here. If you don't look up from your reading you won't know if your audience has fallen asleep!

      Seriously everything you've said is helpful.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Catherine. That is great you do public speaking, and I'm so glad you stopped by to read my hub. Thank you for voting it up and for your kind words. I dreaded Speech in college, but then I loved it and took another semester. You are right that some speakers don't give a speech successfully. You are a good speaker, I am sure. Blessings. Audrey

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      4 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I do public speaking and you are absolutely right. How you say it is as important as what you say. I attended a lecture yesterday. I think the speaker had some interesting things to say, but unfortunately I'll never know because no one ever taught him what you teach in this hub. Voted up.

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Faith - Wow, what wonderful words. You hit the nail on the head about the importance of practicing to become an interpretive reader. You have made me feel so humble with your words and sharing. It is such a great feeling to impress someone or an audience. Your writing has such an impact on folks that you understand the importance of doing your best to make an impression. I love to read your hubs. Blessings. Audrey I need to check on your very latest.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      4 years ago from southern USA

      What an interesting hub, Audrey. You provide great insight and tips here. It sure does take a lot of practice to where it just seems natural. It is amazing to me how one person can do this so well as to move an audience and then another may read the same piece but not have the same impact.

      Up ++++ tweeting, pinning and G+ The HP share button is not working at the moment.


    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Flourish - I wish I could put the humor that you do in certain topics. Maybe you could write a hub about it. I know it makes them more interesting and funny. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. I took this hub from an old defunct site and added a lot of material to it. It really helps to save all hubs to a flash drive or something similar. Anyway, I do appreciate your great sense of humor and your dropping by my site. Blessings, Audrey

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      Good tips, Audrey. Thanks for sharing.


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