Types of Speeches: The Interpretive Reading

If you decide to become a professional speaker or use speaking as an integral part of your marketing strategy, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the various types of speeches you might be asked to give. In this series of posts, I’ll give you the basics on a variety of types of presentations you can prepare. At the end of this post, I’ve listed previous articles in this series.


When I was competing in speech in high school and didn’t make it to final rounds (yes, it happened on occasion), I would always sit in on the finals of the dramatic reading. There was this one young man who competed with his interpretation of The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. He was amazing. I saw him perform this several times and it was always entertaining.

When done well, an interpretive reading can be as entertaining as any skit, play or musical performance. In fact, you can often catch a version of the interpretive reading on PBS … they periodically air “concert” versions of musicals. No costumes, no acting … just the performers reading and singing their lines standing in front of a conductor stand and microphone.

If you are a fiction author or poet, mastering this type of speech can really help you sell more of your work. If, when you do live readings, you can dramatize your selection and make it entertaining beyond the words, you will engage the audience and inspire them to open their pocket books to buy a copy of their own.

Even if you are not an author, it is possible that you may be asked to do an interpretive reading of someone else’s work. In fact, most interpretive readings are just that … interpreting a story, essay, speech or other work written by someone else.
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Speech Critique: Carma’s Humorous Speech

A few weeks ago, I gave my first speech for my current Toastmaster’s club, Speak Out! It was probably the most challenging presentation I’d ever given. The goals of the speech were:

  • Entertain the audience through the use of humor drawn from personal experience and from other material that I had personalized.
  • Deliver the speech in a way that makes the humor effective.
  • Establish personal rapport with my audience for maximum impact.

And I had to do all this in 15 to 20 minutes.

Of course, not to do things the easy way, I added on the additional challenge of making it an “Icebreaker” or introductory speech that helps the club get to know me.

To be honest, I was so nervous that I was seeing blue and purple in the edge of my vision. I was almost afraid that I might faint during my speech.

Thankfully, my public speaking experience took over and I did fairly well. I asked several people if they could tell I was nervous … not a one had noticed. But now that I’ve seen this video, I can pick out my tells. The video is just under 20 minutes … can you find my tells?
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