Voice Over Experts The Voice Over Training Podcast

5 Areas of Active Listening


By Stephanie Ciccarelli

May 6, 2008

Comments (2)

Join Voice Over Expert Marc Cashman as he teaches you about "5 Areas of Active Listening". A critical skill to hone, listening can help you to become objective about your performances and will also assist you in meeting goals to achieve the nuance and deftness that great voice actors possess.

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Marc Cashman, Listening, Active Listening, 5 Areas of Active Listening, Voice Acting, Voice Overs, Cashman Commercials, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques

Transcript of 5 Areas of Active Listening

[Opening Music]

Julie-Ann Dean: Welcome to Voiceover Experts brought to you by Voices.com, the number one voiceover marketplace. Voiceover Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voiceover. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voiceover talent. It's never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home and your own pace. This is truly an education you won't find anywhere else.

This week, Voices.com is pleased to present Marc Cashman.

Marc Cashman: The art and skill of voice acting is an intricate exercise in interpretation and voice control. All the skill sets that comprise great voice acting, articulation, projection, intonation, dynamics, timing, acting and a myriad of other talents are absolutely necessary to be successful in this field but one skill that I ask my students to develop in classes and in one on one coaching and through this podcast is listening.

Many times you can learn more by listening than you can by actually doing. Listening is a critical skill to hone because it cannot only help you be objective about your performance, it can help you achieve the nuance and deftness that great voice actors possess. I've come up with five areas of active listening. You need to one, listen to yourself but don't yourself. What? Sounds like a contradiction.

Actually, this takes a bit of getting used to. When I say don't listen to yourself, I mean don't fall in love with the sound of your voice. Otherwise, you're favoring form over substance. Unless you're doing a phone patch session or need to hear another actor who is in an isolation booth, don't listen to yourself with headphones but when I talk about listening to your voice, I'm referring to your acting, your conversationality if directed to do so, your believability. You have to develop the ability to listen to yourself objectively and ask yourself, "Do I believe this person?" It's a bit schizophrenic but you need to step outside yourself to determine whether you're connecting with the copy or performing in a class, submitting us an audition or delivering in an actual session.

Two, listen to your fellow students. Whenever you're in a voice acting class with actors who are performing the same script you are, if you hear anything you like, make note of it and incorporate all the good stuff every one does into your performance. If you hear something you think is wrong or don't like the way a particular word or phrase was interpreted, make sure you avoid repeating it when your turn comes behind the microphone and most importantly, listen intently to the instructor as he or she directs the other students. Make specific notes so that when it's your turn to bat, you'll hit the ball out of the park.

Three, listen to the director whether it's a class, an audition or an actual session, it's crucial that you listen to the director in between takes and incorporate that direction into the next take. If a director asks you to emphasize a specific word or phrase and you don't follow their explicit direction, the director might think that they didn't make themselves clear and hopefully give you the benefit of the doubt and repeat their direction. However, if you don't incorporate their direction on the following take, the director will then realize it wasn't them. It was you and that you were listening.

Four, listen to the engineer. What? Is an engineer as important as a director? Sometimes an engineer can be crucial to your performance so anything they instruct you to do in the booth, whether it's adjusting your microphone, working with your headphones, shouting off mic, working with the monitor, whatever. Listen carefully to what they're saying. They're there to help you give your best performance possible and they usually know what they're talking about.

Five, listen to your competition and who are they? They're on the air and there's a reason why they're on the air. They've got all the skill sets a director wants in a voice actor and they are people you should listen to intently and emulate. Now, is everybody on the air great? No. But there sure are a lot. Sure you'll hear a performance from time to time that will make you say to yourself, "Whoa, how did that person get that job? They were terrible." But that's usually about one percent of the time and they don't count.

When you listen to voice actors on the radio, listen to their delivery, their energy, their articulation, their acting and mimic them literally. Repeat what they're saying and how they're saying it. Listen to their cadence, their conversationality, their believability and when you're watching TV and a commercial comes on, close your eyes and listen to the voices. Listen to commercials, narrations on documentaries, acting on animated programs. The people who are getting work are on the air and we need to hear their delivery as models as to what ours should and could sound like.

This is Marc Cashman. Thanks for listening.

Julie-Ann Dean: Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this Voices.com podcast, visit the Voiceover Experts show notes at Podcasts.Voices.com/VoiceoverExperts. Remember to stay subscribed.

If you're a first time listener, you can subscribe for free to this podcast in the Apple iTunes Podcast Directory or by visiting Podcasts.Voices.com. To start your voiceover career online, go to Voices.com and register for a voice talent membership today.

[Closing Music]

Links from today's show:

Cashman Commercials
The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques
Ask The Voice Cat Blog
Marc Cashman Voices.com Website

Your Instructor this week:

Voice Over Expert Marc Cashman

marc-cashman.jpgMARC CASHMAN creates and produces copy and music advertising for radio and television. Winner of over 150 advertising awards, he also instructs voice acting of all levels through his classes, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques in Los Angeles, CA. Enjoying the distinction of being one of the few voice-acting instructors in the U.S. who is on "both sides of the glass"-- he creates, casts and produces copy and music advertising for radio and television clients such as Kroger, Charles Schwab, Quizno's, Pella Windows and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer among many, many others.

In addition to his production schedule, he's been an instructor at USC Graduate School and does pro bono work for numerous charitable and public service organizations. He instructs voice-acting of all levels through his online and tele-coaching programs, his V-O classes, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques in state-of-the-art studios in Los Angeles, CA, and produces voice demos. He also has a monthly online column, Ask the VoiceCat, plus blogs and podcasts through Voices.com, VoiceOverXtra.com and NowCasting.com.

Cashman Commercials © 2008

Did you enjoy Marc's episode? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

Related Topics: 5 Areas of Active Listening, Active Listening, Cashman Commercials, Listening, Marc Cashman, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques, Voice Acting, Voice Overs


    Thanks Marc!

    Stellar instruction...as always.

    After leaving LA (and the VO biz) in 1995 and going on hiatus I came back to the biz in 2004.

    In my journey to get "back up to speed" on where the business was now, re-sharpen my skills etc. Marc graciously allowed me to audit one of his classes. It was incredibly informative and a huge help.

    His techniques and teaching will be of great benefit to anyone, at any skill level.

    Thanks Marc. I owe ya.

    DC Goode

    Posted by:


      A great reminder that we have TWO ears and ONE mouth for a reason!

      As you suggested, I listen to my on-air competition constantly. Now, per your suggestion I will try closing my eyes while listening to (watching) TV commercials!

      Rob Ellis

      Posted by:

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