Why you should try reading out loud, even if you hate it

I don’t like hearing the sound of my own voice. But the longer I’ve been writing, the more I’ve learned to appreciate the value of reading out loud to improve my work. Here’s how you can use this trick to improve your writing.

Slow down

Reading out loud forces us to slow down. Research shows that our brains work faster than our mouths, which means that when we read to ourselves we’re prone to skipping over things that might contain errors. Do you remember that word illusion from puzzle books all those years ago?

paris_spring_puzzle

When we read out loud, we have to focus on each word, which makes it easier to find spelling mistakes, missing or duplicate words, and grammar mistakes that we might otherwise miss.

Do a sound check

Making shapes with our mouths and forming sounds with our tongues shows us how the words in a piece fit together. If you stumble over a phrase when you say it out loud, chances are your future reader will stumble too.

On paper, the sentence “Eddie edited it,” makes perfect sense. But when you read it out loud, you realize that it might flow better if you said, “Eddie made the changes.”

Conduct the symphony

When we read out loud, it’s easier to spot language that sounds too formal or too casual, and we can catch places where we’ve accidentally switched from one to the other. It also shows us where we need to breathe. This helps us find long sentences that might need to be broken up.

Whether you’re writing web content, an instruction manual, or the first chapter of a novel, reading out loud is one easy step you can take to improve the quality of your work. So go ahead — find a quiet space where no one can hear you, and use this trick on your next piece of writing.