How to Perform a Dramatic Reading

You have been asked to read a story to an audience. Whether you are reading your own work or a story by a famous author, there is a lot more involved than just opening the book and reading aloud. A little preparation can ensure that your reading of the story is as memorable as the story itself.

Select a story. Make sure it is one that your audience can appreciate with a structure that will be easy to understand.

Analyze the story. In order to convey the story to your audience, you must thoroughly understand it. Read it several times. See if other writers and critics have written about the story.

Act each part. Each character with dialogue has a different way of speaking. The narrator also has a speaking style. Practice reading your story, acting the part of each character. Be excited when the character is excited, pause when the character would pause. Remember that it is a dramatic reading--it is your job to be dramatic!

Build toward the climax. Begin and end the story with low energy and make sure that your biggest gestures and loudest volume occur at the climax of the story.

Rehearse. You should know the story well enough that you can look up from the book and make eye contact with the audience without getting lost. Practice your gestures until they seem natural. You may want to record your rehearsal to see how you look and sound.

Perform the reading. Do not let nervousness make you forget all your hard work in preparing for the reading. Take a deep breath and a sip of water, then begin.


Give a short introduction to the story and the author before beginning to read.


If you elect to hold the book while reading, cradle it in one hand and use the other to gesture.


The bigger the audience is, the bigger your gestures will need to be. You will also need to read more slowly.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Text of your story
Cite this Article