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20 Tips For A Passionately Human
And Natural Voice Over Performance

By Elley-Ray Hennessy
Voice Talent & Coach

Voicing has never been more necessary as a mode of communicating with each other. 

In a world where people no longer speak to each another, but punch keys to express information digitally, it is of utmost importance that we keep the age-old tradition of talking alive. 

Oh, we are spoken to, for example, by Siri on the new iPhones, or by the digital voices in our cars, the "on hold" digitized message companies now use on their answering services, electronic cashiers at airports, supermarkets and vast check-out services and even services that take the written word and now give it computerized voices on most of our personal devices. 

I am horrified that we no longer need a human being to help us do things.

Am alone in this reeling from technology sensation? 


I want to talk to someone and have someone to talk to me. Is that so much to ask?  

We long for human contact and the greater sense of community that storytelling brings to us, as a people. 

So, my voice over friends, it is up to you. Get to your stations at the microphone and reach out beyond the keys that keep us silent. Give words, thoughts and actions shape and life through your instrument.  

"How?" you may ask.


Well, here are a few key tips to keeping communication vibrant, believable and life changing: 

1. Always have an opinion about what you are expressing. 

2. Emotionally connect to what you are expressing. 

3. Actively push the thoughts through the vessel, from the chest, not just the mouth. 

4. Intellectually connect with what you are expressing. Take the time to "consider" what you are saying. 

5. Imagine you are using the text to respond to a question you have been asked. 

6. Remember that you are always in conversation, even if the copy appears as a monologue. See and feel who you are speaking with. You are not alone in a studio. 

7. Always try to "help" the listener. Make their life easier. 

8. Give advice that can change the listeners' knowledge of something. 

9. Love what you are expressing. Make it the most important information you can impart. 

10. Tell the truth. 

11. Believe in what is possible through communication with community. 

12.  Honor your voice as a tool of change. 

13.  Have faith in your ability to change the world. 

14. Give thanks for the opportunity to change the world. 

15. Remember that communication is the highest gift you can give. 

16. Share your delight in expressing. 

17. Risk expressing differently. 

18. Play with how you communicate. 

19. Fear nothing and abandon old concepts of expression. 

20. Be uniquely you and find your own voice. 


I don't want to live in a world of "I, Robot" or Wally where we grow fat and stupid, allowing digital devices to do the work for us.

I am not a machine, but a living, breathing, vital being that has a mind that can formulate ideas. And I have definite opinions and emotional connections to these ideas. 

I am part of a large community of like-minded people who share the desire to reach out and express and stay connected. 


Let us use voices to change how we communicate to each other. It is time to take "the natural read" to the next level, where to be real is truly what we do not want to lose, as technology pushes us farther away from each other. 

To be real is what will keep our planet vibrantly alive and creatively functional. I want to be spoken to and to speak to individuals who know that my heart, mind, body and spirit are employed in what is being expressed. 

In this way, we can truly change the planet, 

Based in Toronto, and with over 30 years experience in voice overs, TV, film and theater, 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. 


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Comments (5)
Dan Deslaurier
3/3/2013 at 10:02 AM
Elley-Ray, thank you for a most heartfelt column. My students at school remind me every day of the power of my voice, and I keep that close and try to take that before the mic every night. It is sometimes easy to forget that it is the power of relationship that helps us to reach and make an impact on others, and our voice is the instrument that makes that happen..

Thank you, John, for another fantastic post!
2/26/2013 at 10:04 PM
Wow! What a great article! Thanks, Elley-Ray. I'm going to print that out and glue it to the wall in my booth!
Fred Humberstone
2/26/2013 at 12:06 PM
Elley-Ray, you are so right. I obtain much of my motivation as a voice performer from a quote I use on my web site taken from the tune, 'Keep Talking' performed by, Pink Floyd, with "vocals" by Stephen Hawking. The lyrics were written by David Gilmore and Polly Samson. "For millions of years mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination, we learned to talk. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking."
John Broderick
2/26/2013 at 6:51 AM
Wonderful - just going into record now and am taking these tips with me :-) Thanks for some wonderful insight to our craft,
Rick Lance
2/25/2013 at 3:47 PM
"In the year 2525..." Zager and Evans had it right with their 1969 hit song. Looks like we're right on track.

Elley-Ray, since I've met you before, I know your passion! And it certainly comes through in this article. I like the way you started out: "In a world where people no longer speak to each other, punch keys... keep the age old tradition of talking alive." So true! We as "voices" now have a chance to be heard and stand out more than ever. And become strong effective voices (besides just the loud voices of politicians, especially the blowhards up in Washington, DC) keeping the power of the well spoken word alive.

We do have a lot of power, although we sometimes feel we don't while interpreting someone else's words (script). I guess this is one thing that drives so many celebrity actors to speak up for causes they believe in and speak out against those they don't.

Having a voice that people will listen to is really a pretty powerful and fascinating thing. It also affords us great responsibility to uphold the things we say. And that's another matter!
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