Several things are needed to keep your skills moving forward: ears, mouth, heart/gut, mind, and body. Your ears are the most important. Listen to commercials, video games, cartoons, documentaries, and corporate narrations. Figure out what works and what doesn't. You can easily do this every time you turn on the computer, ride in the car, watch TV, or see a film. Listen for patterns, inflections, melody, tempo, and emotional shifts. Figure out where the voice is placed. Check to see if the styles or trends have changed. Mimic what you hear. Develop your own personal style that is current and interesting.
Learn how to use your body for optimum impact. We gesture every day, yet many readers get stiff and don't move when they read. Movement adds personality, emphasis, and ease to the delivery. It also helps with timing. A quick body movement replaces a dead, pregnant pause and creates change in the tone, attitude, and rhythm. Explore how specific movements influence the sound. Using the right hand, left hand, and both hands together give you three different vocal pitches. Jiggling the head, tilting it at an angle, or nodding offers additional nuance to the words. Shrugging the shoulders makes a word or phrase sound effortless. Squeezing the buttocks muscles deepens the voice and adds tension to the read. Opening the eyes wide, squinting, and moving the eyebrows up and down also change the voice. Explore how your movements alter the voice. That's part of learning to play our instrument.
Use your brain to comprehend the message and make script analysis choices. Then, put it on hiatus. Everything you say needs to sound believable and truthful. Connect the message to your heart and gut. If it stays in the brain, the listener will know you're lying. Bring passion, authority, and believability to everything you say. Placing your hands on your heart adds warmth and empathy, putting hands on the hips make a person sound confident and cocky, and arms above the head make a person feel and sound happy. You can use body movements to connect with your emotions and share them with the listener. Visualizing a situation that's important to you is another way to feel and share your emotions. Smiling adds positive impact.
After you've done your homework - understood the message, loosened up the body and opened yourself up emotionally - it's time to speak. Like an athlete or musician, warming up has a direct impact on the final result. Warm up the voice. Open your mouth and let the sound out.
Excerpted from third edition of "There's Money Where Your Mouth Is," by Elaine Clark. To order a copy visit: Amazon.com