Vocal Exercises To Expand Emotional Range

by Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. on October 6, 2015

Drama MasksOne aspect of reading copy that must be correct is the em0tion.  This applies to  broadcasters and voiceover artists.  Even though most of us would agree this is true, I know plenty of professionals who have a tough time getting emotion across with their voices.

Last month’s Voice Update dealt with the topic of slowing down and noticing emotions in copy.  This month I’m going to give you some of my favorite vocal exercises to expand your range so that you can get those emotions across with your voice.

First of all, it’s important to know where the emotions can be found in your copy.  I suggest you zip over to this blog post that I wrote a while back on that topic if you have questions about how to pinpoint emotion.

So let’s get down to some exercises.  Here are my favorites to expand your emotional range.

First, write down three sentences that have totally different emotions (or you broadcasters can use “headlines”).  I’ll give you an example of three:

“A plane crashes in Denver, killing three on board.”

“The City Council has passed a new tax bill.”

“A lucky lottery winner just became a multi-millionaire.”

Now read those sentences out loud exaggerating the emotions as much as you can.  Make the first one sound like you’re crying.  Be super serious in the second one, and be as upbeat as you can in the third.  Practice them like this several times.  Now pull the emotion back, but still have enough of it to let the listener know what emotion you’re feeling.  If you practice this every day for a few weeks, you’ll expand your range.

The next exercise involves a fairy tale (yes, you heard me right!).  Find one on the Internet and print it out.  Read it out loud and, again, make the emotions as exaggerated as you can.  Pretend you’re sobbing when the ogre takes the princess away.  Sound really scared when the wolf is after Little Red Riding Hood.  Push the envelope of what you can do with your voice even though it feels silly.

Both of these exercises will probably be outside your comfort level, but that’s where they are meant to be.  By exaggerating, just like an improvisational actor, you’ll loosen up and expand your ability to express emotion when you’re reading copy.

For more on sounding conversational, instantly download my ebook, BROADCAST VOICE HANDBOOK by clicking here!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Natasha Marchewka October 9, 2015 at 12:23 pm

Great ideas! Reminds me that I can exaggerate characters when reading to my kids in order to find that same experience for VO practice. Thank you!

Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. October 20, 2015 at 2:22 pm

That’s right, Natasha, reading to your kids is a great time to practice expanding your emotional range! Thanks for the comment!

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