Tuesday, 27 November 2007


The Word of Wisdom this week is: emphasise. There are many ways of making a word or phrase stand out. The most obvious one is to speak it more loudly, but you can also make something stand out by saying it more quietly. You can go up in pitch, or down. You can speed up or, more likely, slow down. You can change the rhythm of your speech, or add repetition, or change your tone of voice or accent. Very effectively, you can put a little … brief pause of a fraction of a second … before a word or phrase you want to have a particular impact.

Become aware of these factors in other people’s speech and, in a subtle way, gradually work them into your own. They will enrich what you have to say.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007


The Word of Wisdom this week is: breathe. (Deeply.) But to do this the right way, focus on breathing out, rather than breathing in. If you take too deep a breath in, you are restricted by your solid ribcage and your muscles tighten up, limiting your voice. But you can always breathe out more, and when you do you will find that you are more relaxed and, like magic, you will have more air to work with. So the simplest voice exercise is slow, deep breathing, emphasising the outward breath and using the diaphragm – feel your waistband loosen. You can do this while walking, standing or sitting, but best of all is lying down, hips and knees bent at 90 degrees and feet supported by a chair. Gradually you will get in the habit of breathing better and speaking more strongly without forcing your voice in your throat. What is more, you will find that this is a great way of clearing your head and relieving stress. The say that 10 minutes of deep breathing is as good as 20 minutes of sleep and I’m not going to argue with that. Breathe!

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Think like a mathematician

Words of Wisdom this week are: ‘Think like a mathematician, a scientist, a pilot, a soldier, an investment banker, a statesman.’ Reason: because there are plenty of occasions when you might play the part of one of these, but few actors have much first hand experience of any of these roles. So, mix as widely as possible, observe how such people speak and behave and try to work out how they think. Watch TV programmes you wouldn’t normally watch. Acting should broaden the mind: the whole world is your subject.

And a quote from Tom Stoppard: ‘We’re actors, we’re the opposite of people.’