Practicing a Live Reading

Readings can be daunting. This series looks at how to survive a live reading, with this essay focusing on practicing successfully.

Image Credit: 
© 2016 Epytome / Used With Permission

Follows: Preparing

The date of your reading is approaching. You’ve picked a suitable piece, checked it is engaging and within the required length, chosen an outfit, and now you’re ready to get started. Whether you are full of confidence, or feel more nervous than you’ve ever felt before, these tips should help you get in the mind-set of a performer.


Stand up, as you will be on stage, and read through your piece over and over again, out loud. Practice looking up from the page, glancing at your imaginary audience.

If you suffer from stage fright, or are nervous about reading in front of others, then rehearse whilst facing a wall. Stand as close to it as you can, with your face almost touching the wall, and then read. This creates a barrier that you cannot pass and induces a sense of claustrophobia; but whatever you do, don’t step backwards or the effect is lost.

Record Yourself

Most modern phones have a voice record function. Put your phone on the other side of the room and then stand and read your piece. This is both to practice vocal projection, to ensure you are loud enough in case there isn’t a microphone, and also so you can critique your own reading. Listen back to it whilst going through the piece on paper. Any moments where you need to alter your delivery will stand out to you immediately. If you sound too monotonous, or are not putting across the right emotion at a particular point, you can then highlight and address. Make notes for yourself on your practice sheet, then go through it again a few times. When you are happy, record yourself for a second time and listen back to check you are now speaking in the most effective and engrossing way possible. Repeat until you achieve the desired result.

Scale It Up

It often helps, once you are satisfied with your performance, to read it to someone. If you can, persuade a friend or partner to listen, and watch their reactions. Do they smile and laugh in the right places? Are they interested in what you are saying? Ask for feedback, not on the piece but on your delivery, and use it to enhance your presence.


By practicing you should feel a lot more confident about your delivery. This will build your confidence, and you can up it even further using simple techniques. Look into the mirror and tell yourself you are good at live readings. Tell yourself you will not be nervous. Tell yourself you are confident. By hearing these words aloud, rather than just as thoughts in your head, your brain will interpret them as external signals rather than internal, and give them more weight in your mind. Combined with the visual of seeing yourself looking into your own eyes whilst speaking, you can make your brain believe that what is being said is true. Keep practicing, right up to the day of your performance. You may still feel nervous, but at least you’ll be prepared.


Next: Performing

Seb Reilly is a writer, fiction author and occasional musician. He lives by the sea in Thanet, Kent, with his family and two cats.

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