7 Ways Reading Out Loud Improves and Enriches Your Life
How can reading out loud improve your life and also make you a better voice actor?
When you read aloud, you’re employing 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 (more) successful as a voice actor.
7 Benefits of Reading Out Loud:
|1. Sharpens your focus|
|2. Increases your vocabulary|
|3. Results in greater reading comprehension|
|4. Gives you an opportunity to play|
|5. Exercises your body|
|6. Challenges your use of intonation|
|7. Improves listening and reading skills|
1. Sharpens Focus
When you’re reading aloud, you will find that 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 are reading 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 express intent that they be shared and read aloud to an audience.
The spoken word helps to not just focus the speaker, but to put the words in focus.
2. Increases 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 go exploring 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’re wanting 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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