A conversation with a choir member who is a lector led me to try something new, and I pass along my experience in the hope of helping others who read only occasionally in a formal, public venue.
As I always do, I printed my text in a large font with generous spacing between lines. The trick I learned, however, was to break up the text into logical chunks and to put a single chunk on a line. (If a chunk was too long, I indented the continuation line.) A chunk is basically text that, when read, is surrounded by pauses but has no internal pauses. Not everyone will want to read a passage the same way, so I will not offer rules for parsing a text, but I will give a sample of what I did. Consider this sentence: The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” I printed this sentence as follows:
I used a finger to keep my place as I read, and I looked up after mentally taking in a line—most lines, anyway. I tried to look in the general direction of everyone in the congregation over the course of the reading. (This takes some effort in a church like St. Paul’s, Mt. Lebanon, where people are seated in a long nave and two transepts.) It was particularly easy to read slowly, as my preparation had made me very confident. (Reading fast is usually a sign of nervousness.)
The man said,
“The woman whom you gave to be with me,
she gave me fruit from the tree
and I ate.”
Apparently, my technique worked fine, as I received several compliments on my reading, and I have reason to think them sincere.