Happy Holidays – Be Back Next Year

By brockvicky

I know that everyone is busy getting ready for the holidays, so I am suspending this blog until the New Year. If you’re interested in getting help with Reading Aloud, feel free to contact me: evelyn@evelynbrookins.com.

I wish you many, many blessings for this precious holiday season and abundance now and for the coming year.  Please feel free to leave comments. More later.

Notes from Evelyn


yelnoc's photostream

Have a happy holiday and feast-day and gratitude day. The blog site will return next week. Please check back – and post any thoughts you’d care to. So glad to have you visit this blog.

Als0, share with your friends!  Many blessings, Evelyn

PS. I’m grateful for all of you for visiting!

Public Reading & Speaking in the Media

What does Veterans Day have to do with one of the most common grammar mistakes?

by dcdan

Here’s an interesting site that clears up some of the confusing rules about the proper use of apostrophes. Test yourself to see how well-versed you are – and more importantly – things you need to know when using these words. This sight contains a full dictionary as well as some interesting puzzles and grammar assistance.


Tips from Speak for Yourself

More from Jessica Driver on Breath Control

 Words from Speak for Yourself about breath control. There is more on this in the chapter “Natural Use of the Voice.” Here are some highlights:

Observe a healthy baby. What is the technique that enables him to express his feelings so perfectly with his voice that his mother can tell from his cry  whether he is angry, hungry or in pain? And he can change a lusty bellow to a gentle coo with no indication of a strained throat.

    The secret of his splendid voice control is, first, an open throat which permits deep breathing; and second, his focus on what he is doing, which brings the right amount of breath to express each of his needs. He is not sidetracked from his purpose. When he cries, he cries from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. He breathes the same way–deep, rhythmic breathing. It is the lack of these two things which causes a voice to sound old. When the throat is partailly closed by negative thinking or when the attention is not wholly on what one is doing, deep breathing is inpossible and the result is usually can unpleasant voice. Indifference, instead of absorbing interest, keeps one from responding to the idea and expressing its qualities in the voice.

The throat should be as an open gate, its one business being to keep out of the way. You might think that this would be easy to do but almost any mental disturbance affects the throat.

Breathing should be a natural and unconscious process, even when you are speaking or reading, and it will be if you focus on what you are saying and keep an open throat. It is not necessary to draw in air through the nose when you breathe, raising the chest and tensing as you do it. You will never see a healthy baby do this. Air comes into the lungs as easily as it does into a hot water bottle when the stopper is out and you separate the two sides. On the same principle when you want to say something, your valuing of the idea causes a pickup, an unconscious expansion throughout the body. Air constantly moves in to fill this space without your actually drawing a breath.

Put your hands on your sides, a little below the waist; relax the root of the tongue to open the throat and, without any consciousness of breath, say the vowels positively, each complete in itself, not looped together:  A…E…I…O…U… If you have an open throat and are mentally focused upon what you are doing, your hands will feel an expansion with each sound. This is the same action which takes place in a hearty laugh, often called a “belly laugh” in show business. If your speech is as natural and wholehearted as your laugh, you will feel this same action.

Feel that you are in breath, not tring to get it. Notice how the body tenses if you draw in a quick breath before speking. This method causes a tight quality in the tone.

You take a breath automatically for everything you do when you are at ease.

But when you start to read or speak, you may make yourself tense by inhaling ana bnormal amount of air. Breathe often in reading. Let fresh inspiration come as you start each phrase. The seeing of the idea causes a natural expansion.

Right breathing will come easily if you will let that lift, that oomph which you hear in a happy folk song or popular tune, come into your outlook. Enjoy life, be grateful for it, and you will breathe deeply. Put all you have into the business of the moment, and you will breathe deeply. The deeper you think, the deeper you breathe.

Other Voices

"What I Like About Your Reading"

By Hebe designs

Recently one of my regular reading-aloud pupils related this about the compliments being paid to her reading skills: “What we like about your reading is that there is no “self” involved. We are able to hear the message without interference from your personality.”

Is that a compliment you would like to hear? I think it’s a WOW!  Because that is probably the most important point about reading in public – especially when you’re reading from The Bible or Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. These profound and life-changing passages don’t need personal interpretation. But they do need to be read with a depth of understanding and profound interest. If the reader is totally engaged with the ideas and listening for the deep meaning being conveyed, the listeners will be truly blessed. They will be inspired, enlightened and educated -  not by the reader but by the message itself.

Can this be achieved without some coaching? In most cases, probably not. To convey these passages with feeling and insight, you need to pursue some form of training and evaluation. It takes effort – an effort that is totally a labor of love. But when you hear remarks such as the above – you know you’ve reaped the reward you were working for.

Notes from Evelyn

Let's Talk About Breath Control

by Tojosan

“Take a deep breath” advised our song leader.  But there is more to singing and breath control than taking in lots of air. We all breath naturally – something we’ve been doing since the day we launched our first cry. No one has to teach a baby how to breath – it is something that is done naturally. Air moves in to fill all available space.

But when we read aloud, or sing – or even speak – we automaticallytake in the right amount of air. The control of our voice comes from controlling the air that flows over the vocal cords. This control comes from the muscles in the abdomen and the muscles in our lower back. When the air comes in, we support the air-flow with these muscles.

By all means, take deep breaths. But learn to support the diaphragm and control the outflow. Your vocal sounds float on the top of this air and make your reading aloud, speaking and singing sound free and musical.  On Wednesday, I’ll share some notes from Speak for Yourself with some exercises that teach us how to control the expelling of the air and to improve the vocal quality at the same time.

Public Reading & Speaking in the Media

The Caterpillar, the Butterfly & Public Speaking

Sandra Zimmer, the Founder of the Self-Expression Center in Houston, TX, shared this wonderful video that uses the metamorphosis of the caterpillar becoming a butterfly as a metaphor for the evolution of humanity on her blog, and as I watch my Monarch caterpillars progressing on their own journey each day, I thought it was very much worth sharing. Here’s an excerpt from Sandra’s blog post & the video. Enjoy!

“Learning to speak in front of groups is similar to the caterpillar’s process.  The high intensity of energy that gets stirred inside your body when you become the center of attention requires a meltdown.  You have to melt into the feelings of physical tension and emotional overwhelm that get stirred up inside.  The lovely thing is that all that high intensity energy is passion that is trying to flow through you.  And like the caterpillar who must surrender to his meltdown before he can quicken into his higher form, you have to practice being in the soup for a short while until you stabilize your energy and can be present as a solid strong and present being in front of others.  If you are willing to go through the process with acceptance of your human feelings and emotions, then you can emerge as a speaker who really can make a difference.” (Read the full post HERE)

Tips from Speak for Yourself

The "Rhythm of Youth" from Speak for Yourself

Speak for Yourself

Jessica Driver’s “Speak for Yourself” has a wonderful passage on the rhythm of youth that seems very much worth sharing and thinking about as we begin the transition into a new year. Take this into your New Year’s Resolution planning!

“Youth, not spoiled by pseudo education, is ready and willing to accept new rhythms. This kind of youth has nothing to do with years. It has to do with expectancy, spontaneity, relish, flexibility, courage, simplicity, expressiveness. Youth moves in rhythm. Age sets itself, is cautious, lives in the past, is blase, refuses to yield to ideas. Again let me repeat that youth and age are qualities of thought, not quality of years. Keep in the rhythm of your times and you stay young and continue to grow.” – Speak for Yourself, page 46

Other Voices

Defining Success: The First Step Towards Success

Leona Laurie

The title of this blog post might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often people set out on a path towards “success” without fully defining what it is. Success differs for every person and every situation, which means that knowing what it is for you in a particular situation is the best way to ensure that you’re walking towards it and that you’ll recognize it when you get there.

A few years ago, I was working as a publicist for a handful of musicians. Each one had entirely different goals, but at the outset, they were all on a very similar path– the conventional path that takes aspiring musicians towards record deals and into stardom. As you can imagine, if every musician on earth was vying for a record deal and stardom, most would walk away disappointed! Once we defined what success would be for each of them, though, we wound up with as many distinct paths as we had musicians.

One defined success as earning a steady income from working with music, not caring if he ever saw his name in lights. That was a very attainable goal, and as soon as he’d locked it in, he started making significant strides towards it.

One defined success as keeping her momentum going as her family grew, making sure she continued to write and perform music, and using music as a means to express her faith. Another attainable goal! All she needed to do then was write and sing, without worrying about who would hear her or how much she would make.

The need to define success in order to attain it is present in every aspect of our lives and careers. Recently, I encountered it when considering my future in public speaking. I knew that I wanted to get more training and to make more progress, but until I defined what I was trying to accomplish, I was floundering. I sat down and started thinking about where my career would benefit most from additional training in speaking, and almost immediately I realized that my pitch skills had atrophied a bit in the wake of a lovely couple of years of referral business. I’d had to introduce myself to so few people that my business cards, professional wardrobe, and elevator speech had gotten severely out of date, and my pitch had lost all of its impact. Voila! I now knew what I was aiming for, and even before beginning my new training regimen, I started making progress towards my goal.

If you take a moment to think of all the things we strive for in life, you’ll immediately recognize a difference between popular definitions of success and your own definition. When you plan your meals and workouts, are you trying to look like a supermodel, or trying to be your best, healthy self? When you nurture your children in sports and education, are you only aiming for a professional contract or an ivy league school, or do you aspire to some other mark for your them? If you’re working to improve as a public speaker, are you trying to become the next Abraham Lincoln or John F Kennedy, or do you just want to be able to give a presentation at the office or read aloud to your children at bedtime?

When you have a quiet moment today, think about the things you’re working on and ask yourself if you’ve really defined what success will be on each front. If you haven’t already done this, you’ll be so glad you did!

- Leona Laurie is a freelance Public Relations practitioner specializing in social media strategy and training

Notes from Evelyn

"Voice Power" – Here's a Book for All Readers and Speakers


In looking for up-to-date information about developing a good reading/speaking voice, I found this book: Voice Power, Using Your Voice to Captivate, Persuade, and Command Attention, by Renee Grant-Williams. If we are going to be using our voices for public benefit, we need to understand how to improve our vocal tones, breath control and word production.

Most actors, if not all, and certainly all singers, use techniques to warm up the voice, increase articulation, and be sure their words/notes will be clear and enduring. Anymore than an athlete would walk onto a football or baseball field without preparation, the reader/singer needs a similar means of warming up. I have found the means in this book. Some of the ideas are already included in Speak for Yourself and I can’t urge you strongly enough to pay attention to this need. Read Jessica Driver’s chapter on “Natural Use of The Voice,” but also find a copy of this book and follow its instructions.

You will be oh so glad you did. But don’t just read it – practice it. It’s rich in valuable instruction.