Let’s talk about ENUNCIATION and ARTICULATION! And so much more!

Sho nuff, iffin you guyz wanna be doin’ dem dare ‘mercials n’ movies, y’all needs to lernt to talk!

In reading a script, you need to be aware that if the writer wants you to drop every “G”, it will be written that way: “Nothin’ ”,
“Goin’ ”, “Likin’ ”, etc., etc. If the “G” is there, please pronounce it!

If the writer wants you to say “git” instead of “get” it will be written that way.

You need to recognize the nuances in the script.

A new pet peeve of mine is, “Don’t chew know…”, “Can’t chew wait…”, “Did chew hear…” and so on and so on… Hey, folks… The middle word is “YOU”, not “chew”!

Someone has been paid a lot of money to write each of those words, whether in a commercial or a feature film or industrial or whatever! And I guarantee you, they don’t want the actor to change one syllable!

You need to learn to breathe and speak from your diaphragm. I constantly hear talent run out of breath even while just saying their names. A certain rasp intrudes on their words.

Recently, an actor named Jennifer John took 2 classes with me. During the Advanced Class I learned that she is an ASHA-Certified Speech Therapist, licensed by the State of Texas.

Luckily, she was able to share some wisdom and articulate a few pointers to the entire class.

When preparing this column, I asked that she contribute some of those pointers so that I could share them with all of you.

Here’s what she has to offer:

“Intelligibility refers to how well you are understood by others. As adults, we should be 100% intelligible. (Really, by age 4 or 5 we should be 100% intelligible.) As actors, we should be 100% intelligible! When I first started acting classes, I learned that acting is all about connections. An actor has to connect to self, to others, to given circumstances, to the text, to the character, and to the audience. Intelligibility and connection to the audience go hand in hand. Sure, you may look great and the script/text may be amazing, but if your audience can’t understand what you are saying or what product you are selling, then you can’t connect with them, and all your work is a wash.

Have you been told by a director or acting coach that you tend to “mumble” or that your speech is “not clear”? If so, here are some tips to guide you to clearer speech:

– SLOW DOWN (This one is especially for all you kids and teens out there. Seriously, slow it down.) Yes, you may have a scene where you are directed to talk fast, or maybe it is a character trait. It is definitely possible to talk fast and be clear, but it takes practice! If the script or director does not tell you to talk fast, then don’t.

– Practice “over-articulation” at home. Find a passage, read it out loud, and practice saying every single sound as clearly as possible. Imagine you are talking to a group of people who can’t hear you and must rely solely on lip-reading. This is something you can practice on a daily basis. It will help build awareness. After time, you will not only hear yourself mumbling, but you will feel it. That will help you self-correct when it happens in real life situations. You might also find that you tend to struggle with certain sounds more than others and you can modify your reading to focus mostly on those sounds. And, guess what? This exercise will force you to slow down.

– Whenever you are talking, try to focus your attention on the end consonant sound of a word. Dropping sounds at the ends of words is one of the biggest factors in reducing intelligibility. Again, this is something you can practice at home by reading sentences/passages out loud. But, this is also something you should be doing in real life – so start paying attention to it and focusing on it.

– Take a breath when you need to, even if that breath is in the middle of a sentence! That is okay. Trying to talk on one extended breath will make you rush through your lines. Some people benefit from doing breathing exercises at home, and then pairing those breathing exercises with speech exercises in order to work on breathing for speech. I won’t get into all that detail here, BUT, I will tell you that it starts with awareness of your breathing. When you can, focus on your breathing. Are you breathing deep (rib cage and stomach expand) or are you breathing shallow (only your chest and shoulders are moving up and down)? You should be breathing deep into your diaphragm.

For this column, I really only focused on one process of intelligibility: articulation. But, the truth of the matter is, intelligibility is so much more than just articulation! Intelligibility depends on respiration, phonation, articulation and resonation. Is your voice hoarse, breathy, strangled? This impacts how an audience interprets your message/understands your message. Do you lose your voice a lot? As an actor, we use our voice A LOT and many people actually MISUSE their voice. This can actually lead to vocal cord damage! Do you have a hard time getting loud? Are you able to use your voice appropriately for different settings (stage performance versus speaking into a microphone, for example)? Do you sound hypernasal when you speak? These are all factors that play into intelligibility.”

Thank you, Jennifer, for your knowledge and generosity in sharing this information. Should you readers wish additional information, please contact Jennifer at: jenjohn24@yahoo.com

Thanks to all of you who have been kind enough to write about the monthly column. And, as always, thanks to Dan Eggleston for his approval in doing this and posting it to his various sites.

Let me know if you have any specific questions you’d like answered.

And remember, I am expressing my opinion only, not that of any other CD. Also, always keep in mind, that your agent has the final word on everything pertaining to your career, so listen to him/her!

Happy April Fool’s Day (no fooling!), a Happy Passover, Good Friday and Happy Easter!

Hope to see you at the Network Austin Mixer on Wednesday, April 8th when we are featuring a panel of Casting Directors! Scheduled to appear are Sally Allen, Vicky Boone, Toni-Cobb Brock, Brad Burton, CSA, and Kimberly Burton, CSA. Non-represented talent are invited to bring 3 headshots/resumes to be given to the CD’s. Be sure and visit www.networkaustinmixer.com for additional information.

Donise L. Hardy, CSA
© April 1, 2015

Posted by: Donise Hardy on April 1, 2015 @ 5:16 pm
Filed under: For What It's Worth

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