Tell the story!

Here’s irony for you: I’m a voice actor who was just assigned to help coach visual presentation.

In my case, that’s not really so peculiar. I’ve been a public speaker and stage performer for decades longer than I’ve been a voice actor. By conservative estimate, I’ve delivered in the neighborhood of 5,000 presentations before audiences ranging in size from a half-dozen to several thousand. As a facet of my communications consulting practice, I also coach businesspeople on individual speaking and presentation skills.

So, when the musical leadership of my Internationally ranked a cappella chorus, Voices in Harmony, asked me to join a newly formed visual coaching team, it made at least a little bit of sense.

In truth, performance is performance, whether executed in front of a live audience, a camera, or a microphone. It’s all about unlocking the freedom to openly express one’s inward thoughts and emotions. That freedom comes more naturally to some people than to others — I’m fortunate to be one of those to whom it “just happens.” But I’m convinced that anyone who wants to be an effective performer can become one, with training and practice.

The venue, however, makes a difference as well.

I was surprised, given the depth and diversity of my performing and speaking experience, how intimidated I was the first few times I stepped into a voiceover booth and found myself staring a studio microphone in the diaphragm. I’m completely fearless on stage, but I discovered that the combination of mic, script, pop filter, and dead acoustical space unnerved me just a little.

That is, until I reminded myself that performing is performing… because performing is communicating… and communicating is communicating.

In the booth, my mission is the same as it is when I’m standing behind a lectern, or wandering a dais, or acting on a stage, or even singing on chorus risers: Tell the story. The techniques may differ from one setting to another, but the goal does not: Tell the story. As long as I remember to tell the story, my voice — like my face and body — knows exactly what to do. I don’t need to analyze it. I don’t need to micromanage it.

I just need to tell the story.

That’s what I hope to share with my chorus mates as we prepare for this year’s competition cycle. Performance is not about mechanics. It’s not about rote memory, or choreographic precision.

Just tell the story.

If you do that one thing, everything else will fall into place.

Explore posts in the same categories: Reflection, Voice acting, Voiceover

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