Reading out loud is one of the best ways to get in speaking practice. Whether you’re working on diction, expression, breath work, or something else, grabbing some reading material makes practice a lot easier than taxing your brain trying to come up with original content.
Just about anything can be fodder for your speaking practice. Books, magazines, and backs of cereal boxes are all fair game. It does help, though, when you pick reading material that is likely to suit the specific skill you want to practice.
When I’m teaching new skills, especially when it has to do with expressiveness, I usually need to get my learners to go “over the top.” Go completely crazy with it – whatever you are doing right now, dial it up 10x over and blast it out of the room. This helps with exploring different levels of intensity or excitement, and even more importantly, it helps us get over our reserve, inhibitions, and natural sense of embarrassment.
If you want to practice taking your expressiveness over the top but aren’t finding any inspiring material, I strongly suggest raiding your kid’s bookshelves or heading to the library and grabbing some picture and board books.
These books are meant to be over the top. The good ones have plenty of illustrations to give you ideas about moods and subtext you can try. Well-written kids books tend to be absolutely hilarious to boot. There is nothing subtle about these things, and they give us buttoned-down adults permission to get downright ridiculous.
Find the funny, silly stuff rather than the sweet and syrupy books. If you’ve got a kid you can read them to, even better. They’ll love this. If you are really embarassed, do it on your own. When you are feeling brave, read them to another adult. Give yourself permission to blast out the over-the-top expressiveness these books demand. It’s really, really fun!