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Find The Truth: Set Your Brain
Aside, Let Body & Voice Take Over

October 4, 2013

Note: The author presents Musicality: Finding the Melody of Your Reads, a training session available on demand at Voice Over Virtual, the online voice over conference now live through November 30, 2013. For details, please visit The following is an excerpt reprinted with permission from her book, There's Money Where Your Mouth Is.

By Elaine Clark

Voice Talent, Coach, Author
Owner / Founder Voice One

When all the intellectual choices have been made, the performer has to trust the homework: use imagination, load up emotionally before speaking, use the body to connect with the reality of the moment, and fly blind.

The brain has to step aside and let the body and voice take over.

An emotional build occurs as the actor reflexively offers information to the listener through natural movements one would use with a friend. The actor believes the message, and the listener connects emotionally with the resolution.

The product "meets the need" of the consumer. Truth, believability, and reality are achieved.


This is my performance mantra. Use it! It works:

Trust - Relax - Breathe - Believe   

My talent agent for many years explains the processes of finding the truth through right-and left-brain functions.

John Erlendson, owner, JE Talent in San Francisco:

Voice acting is demanding and immediate. Actors are expected to deliver a performance in five minutes that is 95 percent there. That is the equivalent of five weeks' rehearsal for a stage actor!

To  get a presentable performance that quickly, there has to be a strong physical commitment.

The idea is to work from the body and not the mind. It's the challenge of finding freedom. There are no judgments, only free-form creation.

This is not to deny the acting pedagogy: Stanislavsky, playing objectives, pre-life, given circumstances, etc. It's the concept of breaking through to an unconsciously competent state. It's active acting.   


Staying in the head immobilizes an actor. The left side of the brain is the analytical thinker. It re-creates because it is not grounded in truth. The right side is abstract and creative, but the intuitive side is afraid of failure.

The actor's process is to find the truth. When an actor is immobilized by staying in the head, the actor has to break out of that familiarity.

The internal work - empowering yourself to break out and direct yourself and feel your way through it - is the vessel of truth.

The actor has to go from the outside in to find a "physical reality." Then, when the actor plays a vocal action, the body can physically react. Actions with feelings and feelings with actions have to be wedded together. It's a question of working inside out or outside in.  


When the actor moves in truth, there is no denying the rightness of the action. Whether it is appropriate or not to the situation defines whether it is right (truthful) or wrong (untruthful).

The choice will not be a bad choice if it is truthful. This process expands the odds of success.

When the actor moves in a truthful physical reality, active acting from the body occurs. The body physically reacts. The extended realism makes other things - like the product - become important.

An actor is able to communicate the truth of his or her feelings to follow the body rather than the mind; feel the action and integrate it into the work.    


There are two types of conditioning: acting conditioning and reading conditioning.

Patterns have to be let go. Expect and want a vicarious experience from your listening audience.

Use your emotions. Come from a feeling. Take action to express that feeling and trust that feeling vocally and physically.

Create a "what if" situation. What if ..."someone asked me to be a farmer?" Begin with, "I feel..." and own the feeling before you start talking (take action).

The key is to open with a feeling and stay in the moment.     


You have the power to make people feel. Let a sense of "Dis-ease" drive your character forward to ease. Always find the Dis-ease. It's the fire in the furnace.

Adjust the heat in the furnace and take action on it. If your character is at ease at the beginning of the commercial or narration, there is no problem to solve! The stakes are low and ultimately there is no feeling to be expressed.

Many truthful choices may be wrong to the situation but they will not be bad (untruthful).

Elaine Clark is an award-winning actor, voice talent, director, producer, certified teacher and author of the book, There's Money Where Your Mouth Is (from which this article is excerpted). She is also the founder and owner of the Voice One in San Francisco, a major voice over training company offering a wide range of voice over classes.
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