Toastmasters Advanced Manuals: Interpretive Reading

Continuing on from last week’s post, here are my thoughts on Toastmasters’ Interpretive Reading manual.

This manual seems to be one of the best-kept secrets. It’s certainly not what I thought Toastmasters was about the first dozen times I heard about it. It’s also one I’ve only seen two other people do so far. It is, however, one of the best ways to practice expressiveness. Compared to a standard informative speech, interpretive reading requires a lot more effort with the voice.

The projects in this manual are:

1. Read a story – 8-10 minutes – I’ve done this project five times, always reading my own work.

2. Interpreting poetry – 6-8 minutes – Supposed to be one long poem.

3. The Monodrama – 5-7 minutes – I blogged about this before

4. The play – 12-15 minutes – Portraying one character was hard enough. But two? This was good practice but I have no desire to do it again.

5. The oratorical speech – 8-10 minutes – To be honest I’m not sure what the point of this project, in which you find a famous speech and deliver it, is. If I’m just doing a speech I want it to be one I’ve written.

I find that the Interpretive Reading manual, in particular, is one where I have to keep my goals in mind when planning a project. For example, all the stories I’ve read for project 1 are stories I’ve written, so editing them to fit the time slot is a very different process than it would be if I were reading someone else’s story, as is getting the author’s point across. In some cases I read 2-3 very short stories instead of one longer one. Is this exactly what the manual says to do? No. Is it what I need to do to practice the skills I need to learn? Yes.

It’s also one where you have to train the audience and evaluator. No, I’m not supposed to make eye contact with the audience. No, reading a story does not mean acting. My club does seem to enjoy it though. It’s a nice change from the usual speeches.

For a writer, doing this manual is a no-brainer if you ever plan to give a reading. Well, unless you do the Specialty Speeches manual instead, because that also has the Read a story project. More on that manual next week.


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3 Responses to Toastmasters Advanced Manuals: Interpretive Reading

  1. Thank you, Elizabeth! I am just starting this manual, wondering what to read. Since you’ve done it, and the manual doesn’t say that it has to be work by someone else, I’m going to read one of my own stories.

    Linda Anger
    Toastmasters Walsh College Troy (Troy, Michigan)

  2. Our club has tied in historical (Oratorical) speeches with the original dates they were given. Churchill’s Blood Toil Tears Sweat (May this year), Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (Nov this year), and now FDR’s Day of Infamy speech (Dec this year). Tying it in to the original date of the event, dressing like the original speaker, helps it become a more entertaining speech for the audience and the speaker.

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