The Benefits of Reading Out Loud for Voice Actors
How can reading out loud improve your life and also make you a better voice actor?
When you read aloud, you employ a great number of your faculties, and more often than not, the very act of reading aloud is a revelation in itself. However, for voice actors, reading aloud is the very basis of your craft.
Here are 7 benefits of reading aloud to motivate you to get started. This wonderful practice will help you build up your voice skills and become a (more) successful voice actor.
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7 Benefits of Reading Out Loud
Reading Out Loud Is a Key to Voice Actor Success
Love reading aloud so much you want to make it your career?
7 Benefits of Reading Out Loud
- Sharpens your focus
- Increases your vocabulary
- Results in greater reading comprehension
- Gives you an opportunity to play
- Exercises your body
- Challenges your use of intonation
- Improves listening and reading skills
1. Sharpens Your Focus
When you reading aloud, it becomes easier to put all of your energy into the task at hand without the temptation of distractions. You are so focused that you likely won’t even notice that you are strengthening your mental and verbal skills.
If you think about it, your mind is akin to a muscle. When it works out, you tone it and build up strength. When you read aloud, you are exercising the connection between your mind and your voice to the full extent which results in greater focus and cohesiveness.
This resulting focus and cohesiveness can help you when you read a longer piece of narration for a job and want to nail the read in as few takes as possible.
The spoken word is also powerful. It conveys so much more than what can be contained on a page. Instead of just hearing what a collection of words sounds like in your head, when those words are spoken aloud, you enter into the realm of performance and deeper engagement. This world you’ve stepped into is girded by the potency of words. Reading aloud gives you a greater appreciation for the role each word plays and its placement in context.
Lastly, the written word sounds more deliberate and meaningful when it is read aloud. Projected outward using the human voice, the words themselves are sharpened and take on greater effectiveness.
After all, the written word is usually present in the absence of its author. Think of letters sent by couriers in ancient times. The letters didn’t just carry information for one person to read alone and in their head, but many letters were sent with the intent that they be shared and read aloud to an audience.
The spoken word helps to not just focus on the speaker, but to put the words in focus as well.
2. Increases Your Vocabulary
Ever come across a word in a script that you are unsure how to pronounce? Reading aloud more often can help you become familiar with unfamiliar words. Saying something in context aloud is very powerful.
When you are reading in your head, you only hear the words internally and their effect on you is limited to how you interpret the script or other words during that very private experience.
If you choose to read them aloud, you may find deeper layers of meaning in the words because when they are spoken, they take on a life of their own and become a part of you. And, inevitably through comprehension, these words become part of your vocabulary and influence your use of language.
In addition to increasing your spoken word vocabulary, you also gain the joy of discovering the melody of words you have never spoken before. There’s more to words than their definitions, after all. Words are often strung together because they sound lovely when ordered a certain way. Hearing a new word is like a discovery, as if you’ve unearthed a precious jewel. New words destined for your vocabulary are just waiting to be found, but you’ve got to seek them out.
Some people collect hockey cards, recipes, or vintage cars. Others collect words (especially if you are an avid Scrabble player!). Reading books that were written in different time periods, about subjects you’re less knowledgeable of, and from distant places will give you an ‘around the world in 80-days’ style tour of language while expanding your vocabulary. Keeping a dictionary nearby is a must if you want to explore new vocabulary terrain.
3. Greater Reading Comprehension
People learn in a variety of ways: visual, aural, tactile, and so on. By reading aloud, you’ll stand a better chance of internalizing the words and making them your own before you perform.
Of course, this approach helps others who are not reading aloud as an actor, but for the sake of learning in general.
If you are an auditory learner, reading aloud will help the material to sink in and become ingrained, making it easier to draw on the information you’ve just ingested for when you need to reference it in the future.
Something you’ll want to think about is how important it is that you read a piece in its entirety before going ahead and recording it. Not only do you need to know how you should read those words, but you need to understand where those words are ultimately taking you. You need to know how the story ends before you share it with others.
Comprehension goes beyond just knowing what the words are; it involves understanding the bigger picture. When you understand the big picture, you will be able to more expertly relay information, tell a story or even a joke. If you’re like me, the jokes you tell tend to fall flat. Why? Perhaps the jokes were unrehearsed or the punchline was lost in its delivery. Preparation is important on many levels for a performer and key to comprehension.
If you don’t know what you’re saying or why you’re saying it, how will you ever be able to deliver those lines as the author intended them? Don’t fall into that trap. Get your audience hanging on your every word by having a clear understanding of what you’re telling them.
One of the biggest hurdles for good communication is neglecting to read the words out loud before they are delivered. Countless scripts and web copy mishaps (I know you’ve seen some!) could have been avoided if the author of those words had only read them aloud first. When you read copy aloud, errors not previously caught become glaringly obvious. Not all copy is written with the intention that it be read aloud (think an instruction manual for your new coffee maker in 12 different languages), but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be read well.
4. Opportunity to Play
When is the last time you read something aloud just for the sheer pleasure of doing so? Don’t worry about being in the recording booth or turning on your mic. Reading aloud should be fun. Otherwise, why would you feel drawn to voice acting? Take a nice break to read out loud just for fun.
If you are looking for an opportunity to stretch your imagination and explore the capabilities that may be hidden in your voice, read a children’s book aloud to someone you love. Read anything you can find! From cereal boxes, to instruction manuals to sample voice over scripts – breathe life into every piece of copy you come across.
Audiobook narrator, Ilyana Kadushin shares her tips on learning to become a great speaker and endure the challenges of reading long-form narration aloud. “Go to a senior citizens home or a place for the blind, or a place for children and read to people out loud and really feel what that’s like to have to sustain narration and to feel that someone’s listening,” Ilyana says. “Just feel that in your body. That, to me, is very important – to understand that someone’s listening and that what you’re doing with the language is landing in their ear.”
Can’t find a book that you want to read? Why not take a detour and read some poetry instead. You can have some fun with rhythm and cadence. Whether you’re into Iambic pentameter (think Shakespeare) or prefer the brevity of a haiku, reading something new or in a different style than you’re used to is fun and a worthy experiment.
5. Exercises Your Body
When people speak, we often involve more than just our voice in the projection process. In fact, many of us, attributable to culture or otherwise, make use of our entire body when speaking to get a point across. Physical expression adds or supports what we are saying and can also help your voice sound more engaging and animated – this is especially important if you are putting on a character voice.
Watch how the cast of Zootopia uses their hands when they speak as they step into their respective characters.
Now that you’ve seen how reading aloud can be good exercise for your body, remember that it can also be excellent exercise for your facial muscles! Remember, your instrument as a voice actor is your whole body. Another way to exercise your facial muscles while also getting your resonators and articulators going is to recite tongue twisters.
Here are some short tongue twisters you can try right now:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
She sells seashells by the seashore.
Red leather, yellow leather.
Unique New York, Unique New York.
6. Challenges Your Use of Intonation
When you read aloud, sounding dull isn’t an option, especially if you have an audience. Make use of the full range of your voice. By speaking the words as though you have full intention of them being heard, you’ll be able to discover and explore your range more deeply.
If you’re wondering how you sound, try recording yourself and then playing it back, noting where your voice goes up, down, starts, stops, fluctuates and even surprises you. Patterns of speech matter as they help to frame what is being said and how it is received.
Use a pencil and paper to mark your scripts to help direct your tone and vocal interpretation of the story or piece of ad copy. You’ll be amazed by how some forethought and attention to detail can make an enormous impact on your delivery.
Once you’ve got intonation sorted out, take the time to paint your words. Adding your own flavor to a script is best done through inflection. Inflection is key to sounding unique and making the words your own.
When you bring your own experiences and motivations to a read, you make it special. Have you seen the animated film, Inside Out? If so, you are likely familiar with how memories can affect us and may appreciate how actors can use memories as fuel for their performances (think method acting). Let your voice and artistry shine by infusing your words with rich color and meaning that comes from your own experiences.
7. Improves Listening and Reading Skills
Lastly, reading aloud will make you more aware of things that you read, hear, and also help you to identify proper grammar, sentence structure, and so on. Reading aloud also does much for shaping your interpretation of what is being said.
You’ll be able to read with more efficiency and richness, expand your literary horizons and also experiment with the many ways you could interpret the written word, then translate your findings through spoken word expression.
Reading Out Loud Is a Key to Voice Actor Success
Reading aloud can help you gain valuable skills that can be applied to your personal life (think of reading aloud for leisure) as well as your professional life (help you become more familiar with the pronunciation of words and can help you develop better enunciation skills).
Take some time out of your day or week to read aloud to a willing audience, or even yourself! There are many voice over sample scripts online that can help you, including samples of voice over narration scripts, video game sample scripts, voice over scripts for eLearning, and more! Just wait and see what improvements this new habit can have on your voice over performances.
Love reading aloud so much you want to make it your career?
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Great topic today! I read aloud to my kids daily. It gives me some quality time with my family and as a voice actor a bit of a verbal workout. Anything by Dr. Seuss is great but “Fox in Socks” is my favorite. Lots of tongue-twisters and difficult to nail in one read!
I can add to your list of the joys of reading aloud. I was a speech major in college with an emphasis on the “Oral Interpretation of Literature”–STORYTELLING! Did you know you could MAJOR in that? Oh, well, it was the Seventies. I joined the university’s Forensics team (that’s competitive speaking, folks, not medicine)and traveled to other colleges around the country performing stories, cuttings from novels and plays and reading poetry. It wasn’t memorized, but it was “performed” with all of the accompanying characterizations and body language. Some of my favorite pieces were a play called “Where Are You Going, Hollis Jay?”, a very dark short story called “Silent Snow, Secret Snow,” a hilarious JOHN STEINBECK short story that he wrote in the style of Edgar Allan Poe called “The Affair at 7, Rue de M–” (you can find this online, I think), and just for fun, “McElligot’s Pool” by Dr. Seuss. These are all pieces MADE for reading aloud. My husband also competed on his Forensics team in college (we met in a production studio doing commercials together), so naturally our daughter benefitted greatly when it came time for bedtime stories!!!
Thanks for letting me share.
I love reading aloud to children! I’ve directed an elementary aged musical every summer for four years and we always end our day with me reading a story to them. It’s a great way for them to focus their energy and their reactions are a wonderful way for me to guage how I expres the story.
I’ll have to check out Pat Fraley’s book, I bet it’s full of fantastic advice.
Thanks for the great article!
Obama and I have something in common–we both read the Harry Potter books aloud to our kids. Well, he made it through all of them and I made it through four, but he obviously has greater determination than I.
Now my kids are teenagers and we all remember those readings as a great part of childhood. Of course it’s a good workout for voice actors! You have to keep yourself interested, focused, and performing well in one take.
And all the science on early childhood development points to the importance of verbal intelligence–meaning use a good vocabulary with kids and read aloud them! It will change their brains, and probably yours, for the better.
I have 4 wonderful kids who were all read to by me reguarly using my skills as a Radio Newscaster and aspiring Voice Actor. They enjoyed the enthusiasm and imagination I put into what I read to them and feel it also helped me professionally. Reading aloud to kids is something I have encouraged others in radio to do and they have told me they have enjoyed it.
Dan Gorham Kingston, NY
Reading aloud is something I tell my students to do to improve VO skill. It dramatically increases the Eye-mouth-brain coordination that enables you to be able to cold read copy as if you’ve read it 100 times!
This skill is essential if you want to get into longform narration or audiobooks.
I suggest that my student read a book –any book– to tape for Christmas present for mom… just to get the practice.
Ooops! Stephanie, does that violate copyright law? 🙂 Good article the other day on that, by the way!
Hi Julie et al,
Thank you so much for sharing your stories and memories of reading aloud!
To answer your question Julie, if the works are in the public domain (really old, published before January 1st, 1923 in the US), they are in the clear.
Looking forward to hearing more stories 🙂
My favorite (and my kids too!) was “Are You My Mother? I added a lot of extra sounds and we had great time.
Great topic, thank you. What you suggest here is very true….I often read to my husband! Of course he is very polite and never says “be quiet” so I get lots of practice! Kidding…..
Great list Stephanie and very useful advice for us aspiring voice actors. In my experience (especially in foreign language learning), however, I find that reading aloud makes it more difficult to comprehend what one is reading as one’s energy is focused on performance, not understanding. That said, for those listening to what your read, auditory input certainly does tend to trump reading to oneself when it comes to comprehension and retention.
Thank you for this response John, I agree with you and all my students would attest the same. What I tell my language students is to read the material aloud and for comprehension separately. I teach Esl and put reading (literature and stories for language and conversation development and articles for English knowledge development, it actually a system I have devised) as the core of the program. Reading aloud is a way that they ‘fool’ their mind into believing that they are actually speaking the language (mimicking native speech through reading) and this transforms into speech (learning language as separate components turns into mechanical speech). So long story short – do the two separately (reading for comprehension and reading aloud for the sake of sensual stimulus and acting).
Enjoyed your article, I suffer from a strange ailment where I am constantly harassed in my mind by the voices of some real undesirable people / ghosts / conciousness / ??? reading aloud is a great thereputic practice for this condition. Gives me peace of mind, a much needed break and time to myself and I get to enrich the lives of the horrible souls that torment me. I’m really enjoying reading aloud.
I am 38. All my life I have always struggled at learning in school. I always wondered why I simply cannot remember or comprehend what I am read. When I read quiety my mind seems to get distracted easily. I also feel sleepy. I am realizing that I enjoy reading out loud. I have to keep assuring myself that “I am OK” when I am doing this. I found I remember things better. My self confidence also improves. Do feel to give me suggestions how I can improve my learning experience. Thank you for writing this article.
I like audio books for the reasons you’ve adumbrated in your article. Especially it comes to really technical subjects, I find that it improves my comprehension and my grades.
I too read aloud. Many people avoid me by saying that by this way I waste my energy but this data has really helped me for overcoming from all those comments. I want to thank you for enriching my spirit and empowering me.
Good job Tania. It was and is usually wise to follow your own gut feelings – it sets apart the leaders from the followers.
I have been thinking about trying to start up a group for adults reading to adults at our newly built local branch of the Chicago Public Library. An interest in history would provide an initial common thread. We would come together with our digital devices and/or hard copy books, magazines, etc. with the expressed intent to simply relax in the presence of others and to read aloud whenever we come across a particularly interesting paragraph from our non-assigned materials. Hopefully, the evolving format would also encourage spontaneous shared discussion and surfing.
I’d love to hear your constructive comments about this idea and if you know of any similar adult reading aloud groups. For me, “Internet Elbows Out Loud” as a group name would convey the combination of person-to-person interaction in conjunction with digital exploring.
I’ve been reading to my little sister every night before bed and I just wanted to say that it feels so good. She loves it and always tells me to never forget to do it. I’m 16 and she’s 10, and I’m telling you, it’s so great being able to have these special moments with her every day. It’s more than just reading to her, it’s like we’re creating memories. And I hope that when we’re older we won’t ever forget all these special times we’ve shared.
Hi there! I resigned from my job and I feel bored at times staying home, suddenly I realized why not practice reading at least to enhance my reading skills. Now during my bored times I just read books out loud, either magazines, newspaper or any other article that I can read to improve my English.
I work in business. If i read out loud in the morning, I am far more influential and confident throughout the day.
Being a bit of a loner or a perceived “quiet one/introvert” reading aloud is a fun way to escape my mind when it sometimes feels like a prison
I’m glad you found this article to be useful! Thank you for letting me know that you’ll be linking to it!
I rather quite say that I indeed enjoyed reading this Stephanie. I thank you for such an eye opener on these things you have mentioned. I also thank you for the eye catcher on how you automatically grabbed me in within the topic. I say so myself that I need to read aloud more often and also work on my speech, tone as well too. This was indeed inspirational and fulfilling to read today! 🙂
I am retired. I belong to a group of seniors called Books Alive. We read in schools to young children. Books Alive is associated with Maggies FarmTheater. Maggie’s Farm Theater presents community theater here in St, Louis Park. I enjoy reading aloud to children and would be interested in reading for adults. I used to teach First Aid and CPR, so I am comfortable in front of adults as well as children.
It was a use full topic which u have discussed. I had always found difficult to study silently. Many told that reading out loud will waste ur energy and end up reading slowly. I think every one could be fast loud Reader if u practice regularly As good as silent reading.
I loved this article. I have learned a lot since signing up with Voices.com. Thank you so much. My original and main language is Spanish and sometimes words, that might be used incorrectly just jump at me, particularly when reading out loud. This was the case with the following paragraph:
2. Increases Vocabulary
Saying something in context aloud is very powerful. When you are reading in your head, you only hear the words internally and their affect on you is limited to how you interpret the words during that very private experience.
The question is: In this case, shouldn’t the word be, EFFECT?
Thank you for taking the time to read this article!
That’s an excellent catch – I believe you’re right. It should be ‘effect,’ as ‘affect’ is used as verb.
I’ve updated the copy to reflect the change. Thanks for letting us know!
All the best
Ball players practice. Singers and actors rehearse.
I have renewed my Voice Over career and you have given me a wonderful medium in which to …
PRACTICE & REHEARSE…MANY THANK YOUS!!!!!!!!!…Gene Call
You’re absolutely right Gene! Reading out loud is a phenomenal way for voice actors to stay sharp. And just in case you haven’t come across our sample voice over scripts yet, you can check them out by clicking on the link or by visiting the resources section of the blog 🙂
All the best & happy reading,
My son was told by his teacher that he is so good in all his subjects (awarded for top student) because of the reading aloud I did to him when he was a child. He would be playing and I would be reading to him thinking that he was not paying attention, when I asked him (age 4) what I read to him he could replay the entire book to me (this particular book I speak of “I see the moon and the moon sees me) verbatim ( I followed the words of the book with my eyes in disbelief). He became an avid and voracious reader. Now I tell everyone to read to their children from the time they are born because it is learning they will not have to do later (in the bag education – what you read to them when they are young ‘is in the bag’). In Islam there is a tradition that says what a child learns is like carving in a stone but what an adult learns is like writing on water”. I hope this supports your current beliefs on reading aloud.
I thought that it was interesting when you said that one thing to consider when you are reading a book is to consider reading out loud in order to enhance your understanding and comprehension of the material. I have been thinking about setting goals to read more throughout the year but I have been worried that I will end up getting distracted. I will be sure to consider reading out loud in order to help me focus and understand better.
I was out of work for a few months and I rarely used my voice. I communicate with others primarily through texts and emails. When I went back to a job with lots of people around me all the time I felt self conscious about getting tongue tied, slurring words, muttering and being asked to speak up. I decided to start reading out loud to myself to strengthen my voice, it really has made a difference! I have found my voice again.
Me 2! Its amazing ?
this website helped me so much on my school project. Thank you.
Great article Stephanie, very well-written!
Reading is known to shape the way a person thinks about the world. It is one of the most effective ways to advance their thinking, keeping the mind as active as possible.
Thank you Stephanie.
A very inspiring article. I love reading.
I love reading but not loud now I know the important of reading loud wow im so impressed
Great topic. Honestly I don’t read at loud very often but after read this article and knowing all the benefits. It make me feel that I want to read a loud every day.
It was so interesting discover how little changes can change our life.