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How A Simple 'Psychological Gesture'
Helps You 'Act Out' And Express Freely

By Moneen Daley
Voice Actor & Coach

Let’s talk about the “Psychological Gesture.”

If you’ve done stage work, you are likely familiar with this term. If not, it’s simply something physical you do to increase your psychological energy.

For instance, Sir Anthony Hopkins uses an interesting inverted hand over part of his face when his characters feel shame (you can see this in the films Howard’s End and Nixon). Sir Anthony has revealed in interviews that this gesture in particular makes him feel so shameful, he needs to hide. Very powerful.

Let’s go over how this technique can be helpful with voice over.

Employing a psychological gesture is always helpful when working to express yourself fully. We have the liberty to “act out” and be physical in the booth with voice over work.

Here are some examples:

Voicing an engineering tutorial?

Let’s say the copy says “Select the green toggle switch. Flip upright. Wait 5 seconds.” Maneuvering your hand to “select the green toggle switch and flip upright” gives you the sensation of doing said task in real time. You can even wait the 5 seconds. This keeps your read, understanding and empathy lively.

Voicing a Parisian Café Character?

The dialect is difficult enough – Bravo & Brava if you can do it! To stay in character and add that certain j'nai sais quoi; throw a scarf around your neck – have some delicious pastryon a delicate plate and play with them. Careful to not get lost in your props, though. Rather, simply create an environment to explore and live as your character would. Remember voice actors are paid to feel and transmit said feeling – not to read.

Voicing as a sports figure?

If there is a tennis match going on, run around to get breathless – not panting, obviously, but slightly out of breath for true effect and to feel active. Taking on that tennis stance makes you feel anticipatory, ready and alive!

Voicing as an elder character?

Fondle a string of pearls or button up in a cardigan – these simple psychological gestures allow us to fully feel/explore more deeply – these efforts come through in your read!

Voicing a children’s bed time story?

While standing is preferable for most any recording, having an upright seated position where you can nestle more softly with your mic is essential, too. Sometimes you want that proximity effect – you’re softly in the listener’s ear. Remember, whisper tones only – actual whispering is not good for your vocal folds.


On your next high stakes audition, employ a psychological gesture and see if you feel more authentic and expressive.

As always, please be in touch with comments or questions. And may all your recording days be happy, healthy and in good humor!
Moneen Daley of MoVibe Productions is a passionate and life-long storyteller. From radio and stand up to voice over and acting, client and colleagues note that compelling content is her vibe! Moneen records and coaches from her Seacoast NH studio featuring a Neumann U87 mic. She adores talent of all levels and finds it a complete pleasure to share her decades of experience, unique education and personal philosophy with private clients. Moneen is a proud Brand Ambassador and Graduate of The Todoroff Conservatory in NYC. She has also studied business with Fabienne Fredrickson and graduated Wisdom School with Cynthia Bourgeault.



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