Like any art, there are technical aspects to acting that cannot be overcome through instinct or intuition alone. An actor will often realize this fact when they take to the stage the first time. Acting in classes, small rooms and even on camera is quite different from walking the wooden planks of a stage and trying to have your voice be heard by everyone in the audience.
Even the best actors will oftentimes have to develop technical strategies to overcome this limitation, especially those that are normally soft-spoken. Here are some strategies the professionals use to make an impression on every single person in the theater, even those in the back row:
Stiff muscles and posture will prevent you from projecting to your full potential. By loosening up your muscles and especially your jaw and chest, you will free up a greater range to amass the breath needed to speak loudly.
Start by yawning to reduce stiffness in your jaw. Also do neck rolls, shoulder rolls and oblique stretches to loosen up your body and avoid being held back by stiffness or awkwardness.
2. Learn to Breathe
This point may sound patronizing, but it is true! So many people are unaware that their breathing technique is patently wrong. We often teach our bodies to develop breathing patterns that are inefficient compared to our natural breathing.
The discrepancy comes from people who feel the need to fill their chest with air, since they assume that the lungs are where breath should be concentrated. In truth, our chest is not where air is drawn in but rather our bellies. When we expand our diaphragms, we are increasing the volume of our chest and reducing its internal pressure. To equalize this pressure, air rushes in to fill our lungs.
In other words, focus on the diaphragm, not the chest! This simple tactic will mean a world of difference for your ability to project more air and, consequently, more sound.
To practice, lay flat on your back and place your hand on your belly in the space between the very bottom of your rib cage. Practice filling your body with air only by moving your belly up and down. Note that it may feel weird since most of us do not exercise our diaphragms because of improper breathing. Train your diaphragm to take huge breaths, then move onto projecting loud, steady sounds as you breathe out.
3. Aim Out
Many people have issues projecting because they are trying to talk to other actors, not their audience. Cure this mistake by aiming for your sound to hit the very back of the auditorium. Pretend there is someone seated in the last row or even further away. Learn to be heard by this person and everyone in the audience will be able to hear you, too.
4. Be Confident, Have Fun and Relax Some More!
Another common culprit for low volume is that the speaker is not entirely confident in his or her performance. Learn your lines backwards and forwards, rehearse your scenes in ways that break up the monotony and, most of all, enjoy yourself. Taking these steps will infuse energy into your performance. Your volume should follow suit. If you have trouble breaking through your nervousness, practice yoga or any sort of deep breathing and stretching to get rid of the jitters and build coordination through your breath.
We hope these tips will give you the chance to shout your lines from the rooftops and blow your audience away with an arresting stage presence. Children of all ages can get experience projecting their voices early on by participating in our fun and engaging summer camp classes. Click here to learn more.