sign up for our

Home Shop Subscribe Advertise Articles Directories Classifieds Calendar FAQs Contact Us Login

Tricks & Treats To Keep Your Voice
Over Auditions From Getting Spooky!

By Elley-Ray Hennessy

Voice Talent and Coach

I have done literally thousands of auditions throughout my career in theatre, film, TV, radio and animation, and have discovered a code which I will share with you, to overcome having a horrifying experience. I call it the four P's:
How you PREPARE, PRESENT, PARTICIPATE, and PLAY is how to PLEASE the auditioners and yourself.
These are key ways to keep auditions from getting spooky!


Know that you learn from every moment spent in front of a camera, microphone and artistic team. You can never predetermine the outcome.

And rest assured that you will make mistakes as well as brilliant discoveries if you are open to my three favorite ingredients: LOVE, JOY and RISK, which = PLAY (one of the four P's).

Manifest your desires and outcome before you do anything. Know with complete confidence where you are expecting to arrive in your career. Celebrate every opportunity.


When coming to the audition waiting room, don't waste your precious creative energy chatting and catching up with other actors or making small talk because you've got jitters.

Check in. Find a quiet place to review your lines and set the emotional tone required.

Do not over-review your lines, though, as this will make things spookier.


Keep your lines top of mind - not on which actor just got a series! The quickest way to disconnect with you and your character is to take on another person's energy through chit chat. So ZIP IT!

If you have to wait a while, take your mind off nerves by reading, writing or playing a game on one of your personal devices. Internalize your energy and be one with yourself! Become a ghost in the room!

If you see an actor you'd like to network with, ask to go for a coffee after the audition or make a date.


When leaving the audition waiting room after your audition, the same rule applies. Silence is golden.

Don't chat with actors waiting to audition, as they should be preparing, as well. Don't discuss your audition with other actors, as each of you are unique and if you laughingly share a moment you created that made the client/producer laugh, it might undermine another actor's choices.

Thank the secretary and wish everyone in the room a great audition, break a leg or knock ‘em dead! Then vanish into thin air and your graciousness will linger.


Come to your audition knowing everything possible about the team you'll be working with:
  • the company you are auditioning for,
  • recent commercials done by them, and
  • recent successes that you might congratulate them on. 
If auditioning for film or TV and some radio, know the director, their style and what excites them. If a director likes you, he or she will be pushing for you at the audition and putting in their two cents.

I am asked for by writers, producers and directors with whom I have made it my business to compliment and be up on their latest projects.

Know everything about the casting director and recent castings you might compliment them on.


Do your homework! Know your lines inside and out. Repetition is key.

Associate responses with the line previously given, so know the whole script even if you only have a few lines. These lines must be ingrained so that you could recite them backwards.

Consider the lines you would like to personalize and embellish. YES! You can improvise, as long as you say everything written and connect it so that the listener doesn't even realize you improvised something clever.

This is how you will be remembered. 


I won a McDonald's national commercial because the woman in the ad had eaten the new BIG meal or something, and the take on it was her voice had gotten really big and booming and large, and her friend was surprised to hear how changed her voice was.

My character had to say something to the effect of, "Oh don't worry it, it always comes back," which is said in the low, deep voice I had affected.

But as I got to "comes back," I let my voice slide into my signature register and giggle without a beat and said "Oh there it is now" and no one else thought to do that.

You can only be spontaneous if you know the basic map of the lines. Let them haunt you.


How you enter the room and engage the auditioners is key.

Your slate can make or break your audition. Confidence is imperative.

I always say "How ya doin'? It's Elley-Ray." That's my natural relaxed greeting.

You are meeting your teammates. We all play the game of storytelling, we just have different positions on the field. We are a money-making TEAM.

Head held high, straight back, chest forward. Remember, auditioning is FUN!


Never leave an audition beating yourself up. Love the opportunity to perform and engage every single time.

If you are loving, joying and risking, so is your auditioner. Don't overcompensate and bring too much EGO into the room. Humility is key. Leave your critic and monitor outside the room. No self-judging allowed.

Also, leave your emotional baggage outside or bury it. If you are having a bad day because you fought with your spouse or got a parking ticket or lost your wallet -no one cares!

When you finish your audition smile with confidence and thank everyone: directors, reader, producers, casting agents, and scene partner(s) if applicable.

How you treat them is how they will treat you. Remember these people all want you to do a good job. They are on your side, no matter what you think, so first impression is key.


You have only a certain amount of time. Present your choices and then wait for a re-direct. If they say 'thank you' you should smile and thank them and leave.

It doesn't mean they don't like you, but rather, time is a ticking and the meter is running. Don't linger, explaining other ideas you have or how you think you could do it better. The auditioners have generally made up their minds in the first 30 seconds


Feed your spirit with energetic conversations and debate verbally. Read, fill your mind, body and spirit with experience. Laugh regularly and LOVE large. Feel as much as you can. Risk being ridiculous and making mistakes for this is how we learn.

Live knowing that everything is possible and then you can't help but WIN the audition!

Halloween is a time to dress up and ignite the soul inside the pumpkin, to receive sweet gifts and give a smile to those who open the door to hear our delightful screams!

It is a bewitching time indeed. Let us borrow from this magical time and bring the essence of surprise to our lofty storytelling, and create BOO-tiful audition practices.

Live the dream! 

Based in Toronto, and with over 30 years experience in voice overs, TV, film and theatre, Elley-Ray Hennessy is a leading voice talent and coach, specializing in animation, commercial announcing and multi-voice. She's won multiple awards, having voiced thousands of TV and radio commercials and countless animation series and films. 


Your Daily Resource For Voice-Over Success
Tell Us What YOU Think!
Please Note: Since we check for spam, there will be a slight delay in the actual posting of your comment.
Your Name:
Your Email Address (will not be published):
Your Comment:
Your Comment:
Security code:     
Comments (1)
Jack Bair
11/1/2012 at 11:34 AM
Elley-Ray and VoiceOverXtra, Wow, this is most excellent. Such wisdom can only come from someone with so much experience and one as Elley-Ray, who is fully engaged in everything she does. Beautiful article, you made my day! Jack
Back to Articles
Inspiring interviews help your VO career
On Michael Langsner's Voice-Over Roadmap Podcast
Email alerts to new VoiceOverXtra articles
With Sean Daeley and Paul Stefano - check it out!