Tips on Becoming a Good Ventriloquist

Here’s some other things you need to know about the art of ventriloquism.

➦ All men have an Adam’s apple. Just face that fact and wear the right kind of clothes to hide it. The best option would be to get used to the heat and wear a turtle-neck. Other options would be to wear a scarf, grow your hair, use make-up, turn your collar up and sit sideways. But all these options are more or less rejected for reasons too obvious to state.

➦ Elaborate your routine. Simple one-liners with you asking the question and the puppet answering with the punchline gets really old, really fast. That’s the truth of comedy in general, you always need to be original and innovate.
➦ Imagine ventriloquism as talking with a voice that comes from the belly. This will help you ease the load on the front of your mouth and the lips and help you control your throat and chest voice more.
➦ In all principles, singing is the same as talking, only with long and accentuated words. So it really is no big deal to make your puppet sing. It just takes a little extra practice.
➦ To the audience, it would help if you make them believe the puppet as more of a human being than a puppet. This is the harder part and you really need to work on controlling the puppet to the fullest. It will take time and patience.
Like I said, being a ventriloquist is very tough. You need to put in hours of practice and even if you do, you will be criticized for old, unoriginal jokes or a repetitive act. Climbing the ladder up to comic success is not for the faint of heart. So steel your resolve, put your hand up that puppet’s butt and make people laugh!

Ways to Become an Actor With No Experience

How to Become an Actor Without Experience?
What is acting really? They say it’s ‘make believe’, but I call it living an alternative reality. It lets you explore the various possibilities of what you could be. Just being your own self can be boring at times. Acting gives you an opportunity to be someone else for a while. It is voluntarily entering into the psyche of another personality and thinking according to a different set of values and constraints. It lets you explore the many parts of you, which you thought never existed. It lets you deeply explore what it means to be human. Some people dub theater as an experimental lab for psychology. I agree with them, but I consider it to be a ‘truth’ lab, where you explore the meaning of being human.

One of the best ways to begin your own acting studies is to start reading some good plays. Select your favorite role, from one of your favorite plays and prepare to act it out in front of an audience. To learn to act, you must act.

Understand Your Character Thoroughly

“With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it. There has to be, otherwise it’s just not acting. It’s lying.” – Johnny Depp

To play a part or a role, you need to temporarily shed the inhibitions and prejudices that make you. To act a part, you must embrace the character that you are playing with open arms. Understand the plot of the play, as well as the psyche of your character. Understand the circumstances in which the person you are going to play, finds himself. Try to understand why your character behaves the way it does. You must try and embrace the idiosyncrasies of the character and try to relate with it. This is the part of acting, which you deal mostly with your ‘brains’. Firstly, understand the rationale behind the play and the character.

Learn the lines or dialogs thoroughly and explore the thought behind every sentence. This will help you picture the circumstances in which the character finds itself. It’s reading between the lines. Some actors go as far as ‘living’ as that person for a while, to understand him or her. They even maintain a diary of a life lived as that character. The idea is to go as close as possible to being that person.

Draw From Your Emotional Memory

“Find in yourself those human things which are universal.” – Sanford Meisner
Draw parallels from your own life, which will help you relate to the character. In psychological terms, it is about delving deeper into your emotional memory. You have to draw parallels from your own experience and actually try to feel what the character feels. Say the dialogs only when you ‘feel’, the way your character does. Let it come out naturally. Let it flow.

No Substitute for Practice

“For most actors, success is achieved through study, struggle, preparation, infinite trial and error, training, discipline, experience and work!” – Robert Cohen
The process of transformation into a character is gradual. It may be that after months of practice, just a few hours before your performance, in a moment of reflection, you understand who that person really is. You get closer only through practice. Acting techniques differ a lot. You will develop your own process with experience.

Enjoy the Process and Go With the Flow

“An actor has to burn inside with an outer ease.” – Michael Chekhov

You don’t need to be worried about having no actual acting experience, as long as you have lived your life with awareness and sensitivity. Enjoy the drama and process of acting and go with the flow. All the rest will follow.

Join a Local Theater Group

“Work for the actor lies essentially in two areas: the ability to consistently create reality and the ability to express that reality.” – Lee Strasberg
In almost every city, there are theater groups looking for new talent. Join one and audition for a role. Your big break might not happen right away. There will be disappointments early on as you are just getting into the groove of what acting takes, but with dedication, being open to feedback, and the willingness to learn, you will do better.

Never Miss an Opportunity to Perform

“An actor must interpret life, and in order to do so he must be willing to accept all experiences that life can offer.” – Marlon Brando

To develop confidence in your acting abilities and overcome stage fright is to go up on stage and perform, as frequently as you can. Every venture on-stage and in front of the camera is going to boost your confidence to higher levels and will also help you fine-tune your performance.

Enroll For a Good Acting Class

“Study, find all the good teachers and study with them, get involved in acting to act, not to be famous or for the money. Do plays. It’s not worth it if you are just in it for the money. You have to love it.” – Philip Seymour Hoffman

There are several theater and film veterans who are willing to share their expertise with newbies, through their own workshops and classes. Find one and get enrolled. You will definitely benefit from their experience. Finding a good teacher, whom you totally trust, is half the battle won. Trust the training program he plans out for you and give it your best. Maintaining a positive frame of mind is exceedingly important.

Prepare a Few Performances

“The [Great] Actor is able to approach in himself a cosmic dread as large as life. He is able to go from his dread to a joy so sweet that it is without limit. Only then will the actor have direct access to the life that moves in him, which is as free as his breathing. And like his breathing, he doesn’t cause it to happen. He doesn’t contain it, and it doesn’t contain him.” – Joseph Chaikin

To sell yourself as an actor, besides your portfolio of photographs and resume detailing your past acting experience, what you need are some ready performances of your own. Through these performances, you can showcase the acting talent you possess, to the world. They may be your favorite parts from a play, a famous monologue, a film scene you enjoy performing, or even a self-written stand-up piece. It is essential that you develop such performances and be ready to present them at any moment. In fact, engaging stand-up pieces can even get you a gig somewhere.

Observe and Learn

“One of the most important things I’ve learned about acting is that you can’t separate how you live your life and how you practice your art.” – Larry Moss
You need to always be a sponge, ready to absorb, learn, and observe the performances of great actors, to learn the nuances of the craft. While watching movies, plays, and any performance, study the nuances of a role played by any actor, and especially the masters. By just keeping your eyes open, you can pick up a lot of things.

It Becomes Easier With Love

“Great acting is virtually always heroic and confident. It seems spiritual, easy and profoundly connected. Great actors seem like they are channeling the Gods.” – Anonymous
Why do you want to act? Is it for money, fame, mere validation of the ego, or genuine love for the art. Would you do it if you were not paid for it? If the answer and your motivation is love for the craft and the medium, you are bound to eventually succeed, for only love perseveres when all else fails.
When you need advice, it is always best to go to masters like Stanislavski. His books – ‘An Actor Prepares’, ‘Creating a Role’, and ‘Building a Character’ are highly recommended reading for anybody who wants to seriously learn acting. I wish you all the very best in your endeavors in the future. Your experience offstage and the awareness with which you live your life, is the key you need to unlock your acting potential. Confidence, sincerity, and the ability to let go of yourself will translate into a great acting performance.

Tips for Overcome Speech Anxiety

The crowd it cheered for the prefect to come up on stage and announce the yearly academic prizes. As he straightened his tie to get up there on that hot morning, there was a sudden slumping noise and then commotion. The prefect had suffered a sunstroke and had fallen over. Water was brought and people bent over in trying to revive him. And I? I found myself with a huge wad of notes of the speech that he was going to deliver. Someone said I had to take over since I was next in line. But, the mere thought of going up on stage and making a speech in front of the chief guest, the dignitaries and 500 odd students was enough to turn my feet ice-cold, to make my heart race like a thousand horse hooves over the ground and for a general surreal feeling of being stuck in a vacuum to come about.

My speech anxiety had already caught up with me.

Identify with the feeling? Speech anxiety (Glossophobia) is one of the most common forms of anxiety that people suffer from, did you know? And what is rather incredulous to note is a study that shows that Americans are severely more anxious about speaking in public than facing death. To feel anxious before any important event is a given, but when that fear turns into something more intense and brings with it certain symptoms, then we can term it as being a speech anxiety. Which of course puts us to question how to overcome speech anxiety. But before that, let us learn something more about what speech anxiety entails, its causes and symptoms and how to overcome the same.

What is Speech Anxiety?

Speech anxiety is the general fear of public speaking that people develop. In its extreme forms, it is taken as a social phobia whereby people develop the intense fear of facing an audience and speaking. Why? Because they convince themselves of the fact that if they speak in public, they will bungle up the speech in one way or the other by forgetting something important, fumbling with the words and making a fool of themselves, or worse still, not being able to convey what they want to. It is the fear of undergoing an embarrassment that causes for this phobia to come about. But, why does a person end up feeling this way? There could be several causes of speech anxiety. What are the causes that lead to a fear of public speaking? Let us get into details of the same in the following section.

Speech Anxiety – Causes

  • The fear of failure that leads to anxiety symptoms to make way. Which over time, leads to speech anxiety.
  • An earlier failure in course of public speaking that has led to the conditioning of the mind to associate public speaking with failure, and therefore, the tendency to avoid the same comes about.
  • Less preparation of the speech that causes for the anxiety of failure.
  • A person, who has low self-esteem and keeps feeding himself with negative and self depreciating thoughts (to the likes of him not succeeding at all) will find that he is setting himself up for failure and that is what will lead to speech anxiety.
  • The nature of the audience can also lead to developing these feelings. If the audience is hostile, restless or seems disinterested in what the person is saying and the orator catches on to this, it could lead to the development of the symptoms of social anxiety. Similarly an unfamiliar environment or a very large audience could lead to feelings of the same.
  • If a person has never spoken in a public arena before, it could definitely lead to the emergence of speech anxiety.

Speech Anxiety – Symptoms

  • A cracking of the voice that lends to an uneven voice quality and lowered volume.
  • There is an increase in the heart rate, pulse rate and blood pressure as well.
  • Excessive sweating also comes about as a general rule. The hands and feet will get sweaty and sticky.
  • The throat feels scratchy and dry and you keep feeling thirsty that no amount of water can eliminate.
  • A person starts stammering and stuttering along with fumbling in his speech.
  • A person gets very restless and fidgety. Which is apparent in his stance and the way in which he moves.
  • There might even be the emergence of nausea and shortness of breath.
  • There could be chances that you’ll end up forgetting more of your speech.

Overcoming Speech Anxiety

It never is an ideal situation to be stuck with any kind of social phobia, in this case speech anxiety. It cripples and limits. That is why there is a need to undertake some measures to overcome this anxiety. What are the ways in which one can overcome this phobia?

Be Thorough in your Preparation
Understand the topic at hand completely. Find out all there is to find out about it. That way, if there is any doubt about the topic at hand, you can clear them and prepare a speech that is thorough and well researched. Making clear notes about the same is seen to help make the speech even better.

Usage of Props and Other Equipment
Another effective way in which you can tackle speech anxiety is by using different visual aids like charts, powerpoint presentations, slides, audio and video clips and the like. This works in two ways. One, it enhances the speech and gives it more character, and two, it reduces the actual speech time. One does not have to merely concentrate on the speech anymore and can use that time to explain the speech better with the help of the aforementioned props. This also helps the audience in understanding the speech better.

Practice in Different Scenarios
So, you know your matter and you know your audience and that will help you in perfecting the speech well. But to ensure that the speech goes according to how you have planned it, there has to be a lot of practice done. There are several ways in which this can be achieved. You can practice in front of a mirror to study and improve upon your style of delivery and body language. Another way to perfect your speech is to practice in front of a small audience of family members and friends so that they can give you a feedback when needed. Similarly you can either audio or video record your speech to check for the same and bring about a change.

Know your Audience
How does knowing the audience help? Studying the audience helps because you know their general psyche, what they expect from the orator, what makes them tick and what doesn’t. This can be deduced from a number of factors like age, background and the like. Knowing the audience will help you formulate the speech to make maximum impact on them.

Psyche yourself for Success
Some people are so tensed when giving a speech that they don’t realize it when they set themselves up for failure by constantly feeding their minds with things like ‘I am going to bungle this up’, ‘I’m going to forget my lines’ etc. Refrain from doing that and give yourself auto suggestions of succeeding at the task on hand instead. Keep telling yourselves that you are going to give a perfect speech and everyone is going to love it. This will add up to all the preparation and research that you’ve done and help you achieve your goal.

Use Relaxation Techniques
For all the physical and psychological symptoms that speech anxiety brings along, there needs to be a solution found. It has been studied that using relaxation techniques, which primarily focus on breathing exercises are known to reduce this anxiety and bring about calm. Some people will meditate, others will concentrate on deep breathing, still others will probably listen to a soothing song or take a walk. The point being that each one of us has to find a tool that helps us in relaxing and reducing considerably, if not completely, the speech anxiety that makes way.

When one poses a question to the likes of ‘How to overcome speech anxiety’, it goes to show that they are serious about finding a solution. Let’s just say then that this is the best phase to be in because you are willing to do something about it and put in the required efforts to bring about positive results. With a comprehensive and detailed account of this phenomenon listed above, as well as the different tools to overcome the fear of public speaking provided for, one needs just make the effort and be persistent with it. That’s all. Then no stage will be a hurdle. Not really, not at all.

Ways Develop Public Speaking Skills

Public speaking skills can help professionals express themselves in a better way, in front of a large audience. Apart from professionals, the importance of these skills for students cannot be ruled out either. Effective oratory techniques can help win the confidence of other people and ultimately benefit the speaker and his enterprise. Developing these skills has been a crucial factor in the success of powerful and influential people around the world.

Ways to Improve Public Speaking

Develop Your Language Skills
One of the most important steps is to develop your language skills. You should be good and fluent in speaking the language in which you will be interacting with the audience. Learning a language is a task which needs time and consistent efforts. It certainly cannot be accomplished in a day, being a cumulative process. Practice conversing in the language fluently, without fumbling and falling into very big pauses. You can also consider approaching a language teacher for the same.

Observe Great Speakers
A person can learn a lot if he has good observation skills. There are many people around you how have mastered the art of public speaking. You should minutely observe how they speak and conduct themselves in front of a huge crowd without being self-conscious. If you get a chance, go and interact with them personally. Ask them questions about confidence, positive attitude, success etc. Learn from their answers and try to implement their suggestions for your own benefit.

Deliver the Speech Confidently
Reach the place where you have to speak on time. If you have prepared well, then there is absolutely no need to be nervous. Meditate for a few minutes and get going once you stand in front of the audience. Be aware of what you are saying and maintain good eye contact with the people present.

Prepare for the Speech Well
Good preparation is the foundation of a great speech. You should know exactly what you have to say. For this, a deep research and study of the speech topic becomes necessary. You can conduct many mock speech sessions for yourself and judge your strengths and weaknesses after every attempt. Try to minimize your mistakes with every new attempt. You should make sure that your speech is to the point and all the facts which you will be mentioning, are correct. Any error in this regard can really affect your prospects in a negative way.

Be Confident
Being confident and having faith in your own abilities is extremely important. There are many people who have stage phobia. These people do prepare well for their speech, but are afraid to face an audience. The key here is to be calm, cool, and relax for a few moments.

Instead of thinking how the audience will react to your speech, think about what you have to say and how can you make the speech interesting and engaging for the people. Be positive and optimistic to emerge as a winner.