I have a long history of public speaking–lectures, workshops, panel presentations-facing with a group of friends or hundreds of strangers makes no difference to me. When I can work from an outline or talking points or questions, no problem. Humorous and lively.
When reading aloud in public, the problem is that it is reading! This photo from my reading during the first week of Nimrod this year depicts the problem perfectly.
I have not yet mastered the ability to read something verbatim while maintaining eye-contact with the audience. Awkward. And distancing.
On the other hand, reading aloud to myself is essential, especially dialogue. It’s like practicing job interview questions and answers aloud in front of a mirror. Sentences are a whole lot smoother in thought than in practice. If the words do not fall smoothly from my lips, it can not ring true in the reader’s ear. It is absolutely necessary for dialect. Does it sound overdone? Reading aloud can work for narrative as well, Identifying sentences that are too long or stilted. Sometimes, it is helpful to have someone read your work aloud while you listen. Good luck!