Interpretive Reading Advanced Manual Review with Carol Prahinski

The Interpretive Reading manual is one of the most specific set of speech projects.  Each of the presentations require a different Interpretive Readingset of skills.

All of the speech projects are read, not performed like a speech.  Eye contact and body language are not to be evaluated.  This makes evaluating these speeches very problematic for newer Toastmasters or those who haven’t had time to read the manual objectives.  The evaluator has to understand the techniques that the speaker is trying to develop.

These projects are somewhat older styles of entertainment.  Monodramas are rarely performed anymore.  The National Speech and Debate Associate (NSDA) for high school speech students has speech competitions in various catagories that include presenting a previously written speech.  However it’s simply not a common activity now.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t skills to be learned from trying out these project.

Our guest is Carol Prahinski, the former Region Advisor for Region 6.  Carol talks about what it took to get started, how she selected her pieces, and why the Interpretive Reading advanced manual is one that she’ll do again.

Interpretive Reading Advanced Manual Projects

Every project in the Interpretive Reading manual requires a lot of time to research to find appropriate materials.  Many struggle to find poems that are long enough for the time requirements.  Monodramas are hard to find.  Famous speeches that can be cut to the time requirements tend to limit our choices – or lead to extensive editing.

My advice:  talk to a librarian.  They can lead you to materials that you can use, probably faster than you’d find them yourself.

Reading Poetry is probably the most relevant project in the manual.  It’s important to understand the techniques of reading a poem and how we often fail to do the work justice.  When we fall into the rhythm/rhyme cadence that many poems use, we often can mangle the words into a sing-song voice.  That’s rarely the poet’s intention, unless they’ve Dr. Seuss.   Try taking time to practice reading out loud.  Don’t use the not the format of the stanzas but the punctuation to indicate where to pause. Poetry is able to become what it’s meant to be:  a vocal presentation of literature.

I have a friend who assigns Shakespeare’s plays to be read by her students.  I think this is a mistake:  plays are written to be performed, not read.  Poetry is the same way:  it’s meant to be read out loud for the audience.  That’s why the sounds of the words is so important to the writer, and we, as the performers, need to honor that.



Our music today is from
“Rumination” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License


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