Dont Read Your Paper Aloud

The only good advice about reading a paper aloud to an audience is 'Don't'. It is boring and ineffective. Possibly at some time in your career you will find it necessary to read a paper to an audience because the person scheduled to present is absent. However never let this happen when you have time to prepare. If against your best wishes you are ever forced to read a paper, the solution is to know the material so thoroughly that you are able to look frequently at the audience, project your voice enthusiastically, and only occasionally glance down at the print.

Sadly enough even though they know better, occasional presenters still read instead of speak their papers. Perhaps they believe their English will sound better when they read, but this is never true. Listening to someone read a paper is always difficult for an audience. When someone reads science aloud the voice tends to become sing-song and monotonous, whereas the information becomes alive and interesting when an audience can see a speaker talk, look, smile, and gesture. So do whatever you can to make your information new and exciting. Permit yourself to have a communication with the audience that goes beyond words.

Speakers' success suffers when they read papers aloud because they are forced to bend their heads to look at the paper. This not only prevents the audience from seeing their facial expression but it constricts their throats so that their voices are harder to understand. The final sadness is that when speakers read to an audience, they usually hide behind a podium or table. Standing behind a table or podium is always a disadvantage because it signals that the speaker wants distance from the audience.

However, if, for one reason or another, you cannot avoid reading a paper aloud, you can somewhat compensate by looking up at the audience as frequently as possible and keeping at least one of your hands free to establish nonverbal communication (see Chapter 8). You can consider preparing your paper by:

• Putting accent marks on syllables to be stressed.

• Marking places where your voice should pause.

• Underlining phrases to emphasize.

• And, above all, practicing aloud (see Chapter 8).

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