One of the first things Mitali Perkins did after moving to California was hit a studio to record an intro for an audio book. She did an excellent post at her blog describing the experience.
I, of course, picked up on a minute detail and got carried away with it. Mitali described her history with reading aloud, including "...when I read in church, I strive for reverence and excellence..." I had to stop there and ponder my own sad attitude toward my moments at the pulpit. I read in church once or twice a year, and I tend to treat each trip to the front of the sanctuary as an opportunity to up my public reading game. Which, I guess, isn't exactly reverent.
I focus on using a little theatricality to convey meaning, which, of course, means I have to understand the passage in the first place. This can sometimes mean e-mailing the minister to say, "What the heck, Bob?" The version of the Bible my church uses has an on-line site where I can download the passage I'm reading and enlarge the text. Seriously, I mark it up for pronunciation and note spots I want to emphasize. I rehearse for a day or two ahead of time. Unless I'm really pressed for prep time, I try to be comfortable enough with the text so that I can periodically look up and appear to be making eye contact with audience members--I mean members of the congregation. That's why I like to read from the enlarged text I downloaded from the Internet instead of the pew Bible. The larger text means I'm less likely to lose my place after I've looked up at my listeners
I don't really worry a lot about going over the top with these performances because we're supposed to be a Christian community and be supportive of one another, right? Plus, if you end up reading in the summer, as I sometimes do, there's hardly anyone there to care. On top of that, I figure if the deacons don't like what I do, they'll have a board meeting and vote not to ask me back. Since I don't take offense easily, that's not a source of anxiety for me.
I suspect that now that I've read about Mitali's trip to the studio and I know that writers sometimes record audio for their own books, I will behave even worse in church.