Do you know how to read a script? There is a way to do this with charisma. Whether you are reading a toast, reading from a teleprompter, or a marketing script, here are some tips for you:

Dictate Your Sentences

Try speaking your following script and using a transcription app or software instead of typing it out. You’ll have a double-combo effect with this one:

  1. It’ll sound more fluid
  2. You’ll avoid words and phrases you won’t usually say

Start by speaking first, then writing. You’ll sound much more natural as a result!

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Use Shorter Sentences and Short Words

Remember that shorter is (mostly!) better when reading and writing a script.

Instead of stuffing your script with complex words, aim for ones that you’d typically say:

  • Instead of “exuberant,” use “great.”
  • Instead of “somewhat,” use “kind of.”
  • Instead of “efficient use of valiant effort,” use “hard work.”

Remember to use shorter words, more straightforward sentences, and things you would say!

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Smile While Reading to Sound More Warm

You don’t have to smile while reading the script, but smiling can change the sound of your voice.

The specific way you smile can change the way you sound.

A smile adds a little bit of warmth to your voice.

Just as if you’d read a nice bedtime story to a child, you’ll want to smile if you’re going to sound happy, energetic, or passionate. Smiling can also help you sound more trustworthy—this is especially useful during interviews and when presenting to potential clients!

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Use the Right Microphone

Where is your microphone located? If it’s in a tough spot that hinders your bodily movement, you might be constricting your voice. Cues and other body language gestures are crucial to sounding natural—so if you’re able to move freely, your voice will free up, too.

If you can, grab a boom microphone or microphone you can move freely in hand. Once you add movement to your script-reading, you’ll instantly sound more dynamic!

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Use Your Hand Gestures While Speaking

Did you know we can “hear” gestures? Researcher Susan Goldin-Meadow’s book, Hearing Gesture, mentions the power of hand gestures and their effect on our voices.

Try this: Imagine you are giving a presentation at your next team meeting. However, your hands are tied together. How do you sound? Are you cheerful and dynamic? Or are you repressed and quieter?

Now, imagine your hands are freely moving. You may imagine you sound more confident, and your voice is more dynamic. Try giving your hands enough space when reading to amplify your voice.

Pro Tip: Holding a script or book in your hands? Try putting it to the side on a surface or holding it in one hand, with your other hand freely gesturing.

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Use the Power Pause Throughout Your Script

Most people race through a script to get to the end. But they don’t realize that we often pause in everyday conversation. We use pauses when we try to remember something, when we are about to say a powerful phrase or word or even when we want something to soak in.

A pause is what marks true speech.

For example, look at Steve Jobs introducing the iPhone at the beginning of this video. Note how long his pauses are:

You can also do that IN your scripts. Putting annotations such as double slash can help:

  • “And then we found // something surprising.”
  • “I want to show you // what we accomplished.”
  • “Let’s celebrate our victory this month // a 20% increase in sales!”

You can use a power pause mid-sentence to add drama or, at the end of the sentence, let a thought sink in. Use the pause to your advantage!

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Channel Your Role Model

Speaking of Steve Jobs, researchers found that we can use our role models to our advantage. 

Students were tasked with giving a speech, and when asked to channel their inner Steve Jobs, they were rated more charismatic!

Why?

Because when you channel someone else, you “become” that person. Whether you’re channeling Oprah, Dwayne Johnson, or your other favorite role model, find the person you want to emulate for a charisma boost.

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Try Your Script 4 Different Ways

Let’s be honest: reading scripts can get boring.

And we can feel the boredom when we read scripts. That means the listener is likely to feel that, too! So let’s get out of that funk by reading your script 4 different ways:

  • Read it normally
  • Read it like your favorite TV/movie character (Spongebob? Harry Potter? Mean Girls?)
  • Read it like a drill sergeant
  • Read it slowly

The point of this exercise is to change things so that when you read your script for real, you’ll sound less robotic and more fluid.

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Use Actual Emotion in Your Script

One of the biggest mistakes when reading our scripts is we strip our emotions.

For example, you might have seen a TED talk or other video with someone walking on stage and saying, “Hi, I’m so happy to be here,” without showing ANY happy emotion. Or perhaps you asked a stranger how they were doing, and they replied, “I’m great,” with a deadbeat face.

This may happen because we rehearse our scripts so often that they lose meaning. When reading your script, take note of certain parts that should convey emotion—whether it’s happy, sad, or any emotion in-between. You can also annotate your script with smileys or a sad face to remind yourself what emotion to convey.

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Know When to Skip on a Script

Sometimes, reading from a script isn’t worth it. Researchers at Quantified Communications used AI software to analyze speeches. They found that reading from scripts increased persuasion and credibility, but ditching the script altogether increased clarity and trust.

That’s why knowing when to use a script is just as important as how to read from it.

Use a script to sound more credible. Ditch the script to build trust and cooperation.

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The Half/Half Approach

If you want to sound both credible AND trustworthy, try the half/half approach:

  • When you want to sound plausible, read from your script.
  • Don’t use your script during the moments you want to build trust.

The trust-building parts of your script are perfect for anecdotes, stories, and other emotional points you want to convey. You might even find it helpful to add a short bullet point like “My personal story” within your script to remind yourself to go off-script for this part.

Now, you’re well on your way to sounding like a natural! Once you’ve read these tips, let’s cement them in memory. Try this article to increase your learning potential: 15 Effective Ways You Can Learn How to Learn.

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