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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