Think Before You Speak

11 January 2022
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Think Before You Speak

By Dan Friedman

For over 20 years I’ve been directing and coaching voice actors. If asked, “what is one thing that every voice actor can do to improve?” I would say, “think before you speak.”

There is a reason certain phrases stand the test of time. When it comes to script analysis, this is one area where people tend to rush it and not put in the time to really understand what the script is meant to communicate. They do not … think before they speak.

Think for a moment, how often do you perform a script the instant you receive it? You see the first few words and immediately launch into a delivery. By doing so, you are making assumptions rather than connections. This leads to deliveries that sound “wishy-washy” at best. Furthermore, it inhibits you from looking and seeing other possibilities. You get locked into a belief about how the script should sound.

Even the most seemingly simple scripts can often be heavy on emotional intent. To communicate effectively, voice actors must understand the script on an emotional level themselves, before they will be able to connect to the listener. This begins with understanding your own place and perspective, who your listener is, and asking all the other questions we should be asking ourselves but often don’t take the time to thoughtfully answer.

Scripts have meaning. The words themselves are a voice actors road map to connection. Taking the time to analyze the script and identify the highlights and hurdles, before performing it, will allow you to make better, more informed choices when it is time to perform. This preparation allows you to feel more free during your performance. You know what you need to communicate and you do it more naturally and conversationally.

Script analysis and/or … doing the thinking first, can be tedious. It’s why beginners don’t like doing it and why seasoned voice actors can get complacent about it. The good news is that it does get easier and faster with practice. Experience is the best teacher.

I challenge everyone reading this to spend the next week putting in a little extra time toward analyzing your scripts before you perform them. Understand the intentions and feel the connections. I hope you discover that you feel more thoughtful, connected and better about your performances and audition submissions. Good luck!

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