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Overcoming the Fear of Reading Aloud

Updated on December 16, 2017
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

Reading aloud can be rather frightening. It does not matter if you are reading in front of your class or reading during a wedding. It doesn't matter if you are a child, teen, or adult. Being in front of others makes our knees shake. Speaking clearly with others watching is indescribable.

This can happen to anyone at anytime. Getting in front of any crowd is nerve wracking. The good news is that you can overcome it. It just takes a little hard work and determination.

Real to Us

Yes, fear of reading aloud is psychological. Knowing that does not take it away. The fear is real. Why are we so afraid to read aloud? We want to succeed. We don't want to embarrass ourselves.

What if we look funny? What if we have food all on our shirt? What if everyone laughs? What if I mispronounce words? All these “what if’s” are real. They can make a grown person cry. They can cause a child to hate reading. It doesn't matter that they haven't happened or might now. The fear is real within us.

Know the Subject

If you really want to overcome the fear of reading aloud or help your child conquer the terror, start by getting familiar with reading in general. If reading is dreaded when it is done silently, how much more despised it is when forced to be done out loud in front of other people about something they can't understand.

Let's say I had to read an article out loud that was about engineering. I would be stumbling over every word as so many would be unfamiliar with me and the concepts foreign. I would feel awkward reading it and very self-conscious. If I was talking about my hometown or a favorite history topic, I would sail along and not feel too uncomfortable. The fear of being in front of people would be lessened because I had confidence in my knowledge of the topic.

The more confidence you have in your abilities, the more confidence you'll have to stand before others and discuss them. Don't try to speak in front of others when you are unsure of your topic.

Prep

Read silently and gain confidence with books before even attempting to read out loud. Don't just suddenly stand in front of a group of people and feel like you can successfully read out loud to them.

Once standard reading confidence is obtained, reading aloud can be tackled. Do not jump into reading before a hundred people. Begin reading in front of a mirror. Progress to reading in front of a parent or spouse. Make sure that you gradually increase the size of your audience. When reading in front of one person is comfortable, read in front of the whole family. Take a part in a family read night and get in some practice.

Before long, speaking in front of ten, twenty, or thirty people will not be so terrifying. The fear does not go away over night and can sometimes resurrect itself. Always take a deep breath before reading and never rush. Rushing causes mistakes which increases the fear.

Reading aloud can be very enjoyable once fear has been conquered. Do not let fear control you and deprive you of such reading pleasure.

Talk About Your Fear

Fear is powerful. When we keep it bottled up, it grows more powerful. This is true about anything that controls us. Ignoring it gives it more power. When you talk about it, you expose it and take away the power.

Bring your fear to the surface. Deal with it. Don't let it control you. Find someone you can trust and talk about the fear controlling you. This person will be one who doesn't judge and has the ability to just listen as you talk. It could be a teacher, a mentor, an older sibling, or a pastor. This is someone who won't mock you but encourage you.

Talk to Others Who Fear the Same

You are not alone in this. There are many other people who feel the same way. Talk to them. See what they do to overcome their fears. They might have insight to unique techniques that most people don't think of. Also, you can be supportive to each other and be great encouragement when the fear strikes.

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