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Stop the Stumbles! A Quick Way to Get the Brain & Mouth Working Again
By Peter Drew
Voice Actor
©2008 Peter Drew
Ever have one of those days behind the mic?

You wake up - bright-eyed and bushy tailed - all set for the voice-over sessions you’ve booked.
But then as soon as you put your face in front of the mic, your mouth and brain just don’t seem to want to cooperate.
  • It could be just one particular word your tongue can’t wrap itself around.
  • Maybe it’s one of those high-speed disclaimers that seems insurmountable.
  • Or you keep missing a word.
  • Or you change a word on the page to some other word.
Sure, it’s really funny when you watch a blooper video of some celebrity screwing up like that, but it’s not so funny when you’re the one with the problem.
So, what can you do? Draw a circle.

For example, you get through the initial take OK, but you and the folks on the other side of the glass, ISDN, or phone line know you’ve got a better take in you.
On take two you stumble. Take three, it’s worse. By take four, you and the client are wondering if you’re speaking the same language. It’s only a couple of words for heaven’s sake!

After pre-reading the copy, rehearsing a few times, and then doing a few actual takes, your eyes, mouth, and brain can go on automatic pilot a little.
You haven’t quite memorized the copy, but you’ve become familiar enough with the words, so that an occasional disconnection occurs between your eyes and brain.
Either your eyes don’t scan the lines, or your brain doesn’t register what the eyes are looking at. Whatever the reason, you just keep stumbling, stuttering, skipping, or mispronouncing the same word or words over and over again.
You need something to break the spell. And that something is … the circle. (Cue trumpet fanfare.)

Simply circle the word or words you keep messing up.
The circle or circles will interrupt the semi-automatic pilot scanning of your eyes and brain, and pull their focus right to the word or words.
You’ll really see and interpret them again, so you can get through them without a problem.
Give the circle a try. You might find it will help you from going around and around next time you get a case of stumblelips.
(Disclaimer: Use only as directed. Your results may vary. See your voiceover coach, if symptoms persist.)
Peter Drew, a freelance voice-over talent and copywriter/producer with decades of experience, is heard on radio and television stations, corporate presentations, web sites, and messages-on-hold across America and countries around the world. To send an email regarding this article, please visit Peter Drew Voiceovers at
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