When you're an actor, or any other type of performer who needs to be heard, your voice is one of your most valuable tools.

It is your job as an actor to engage the audience. That means that you need to keep the people who are watching involved and interested in your performance. There is nothing worse to an audience than not being able to hear or understand what is being said.

Actors train hard to make sure their voices are loud enough to fill a theatre. Making your voice loud is called projection. To be an actor, you must learn to speak loudly, or project your voice, without damaging your throat or losing your voice. You know how it feels if you've been yelling a lot! Actors practise centering their voices so they don't hurt themselves, even if they have to speak loudly on stage day after day.

You might also have noticed that actors exercise their mouths and faces to make sure they speak clearly and can pronounce words properly. Speaking words clearly is called articulation.

Not all characters in plays sound the same. An actor also knows how to change his or her voice so that it suits a character:

  • You can change your voice's rhythm, which means how fast you speak, how long or short you make words or parts of words, and which parts you stress.
  • You can change your voice's pitch, making it higher or lower.
  • You can also change the tone of your voice, making it sound flat and boring, or highly excited and enthusiastic (or anywhere in between).

This is how the voice can communicate even without words. You can often tell what people are saying and what they are thinking, just by how they say it, even if they are speaking in a different language.

Another way your voice can help create a character is by using a different accent. Very good actors can hear an accent or the way a person speaks, and copy it almost immediately without even thinking. Like with any worthwhile skill, you have to practise!

The better you train your voice to be loud, clear and have variety, the more interesting you will be to an audience.

Next: Find out how your voice works >