Voice Over Experts The Voice Over Training Podcast

Giving Depth to Words


By Stephanie Ciccarelli

August 28, 2008

Comments (15)

Join Voice Over Expert Marc Cashman in his podcast "Giving Depth to Words". Many voice actors deliver their words with awesome articulation and precise projection, but have a detached delivery. Learn how you can color words or phrases with the appropriate attitude or emotion in this excellent lesson.

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Marc Cashman, Giving Depth to Words, Interpretation, Copy, Coloring words, Voice Acting, Voice Overs, Cashman Commercials, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques

Transcript of Giving Depth to Words

[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: Hi. This is Marc Cashman. My subject today is giving depth to words. You know, I've been struck many times while listening to a radio or TV commercials or various forms of narration or in the classes I teach. How many voice actors deliver their words with awesome articulation and precise projection? But detached delivery. They're quite adept at lifting the words off the page effortlessly but failed the opportunity to color words or phrases with the appropriate attitude or emotion.

They sometimes forget to use their acting abilities to give depth to the words they speak. In voice acting, all our emotions and attitudes come through our voice. People can't see our eyes or our body language like they can on stage or in film. The slightest nuance in the tone of our voice can convey myriad feelings. Non-verbal utterances can convey even more. But there are so many places and copy where we can really give the words the depth they need but feeling the words were saying and putting emotionality into them.

An example that came up in one of my classes occurred when we we're working on a spot for a regional hospital and one word that kept popping up was hope. Ask yourself, what is hope sound like? When you say the word just by itself out of context, you tend to naturally say it on a down note. Hope. One word spoken with a period after it, but think about what hope means. Hope means to cherish. A desire with anticipation. To wish for something with some amount of expectation. It could be something you long for that's realistic or unrealistic.

It's an attitude or a feeling that could be attainable. And then the context of a hospital and the feelings that evokes in potentially life-threatening situations, it's a word with a very powerful meaning. So in this context, hope is a word we need to lift and the attitude is a positive one. When we say this word, we need to have hope in our heart in order to have hope in our voice, because people can hear if we're being sincere when we say this word or any word for that matter.

Of course, we could say hope in a sarcastic way, the mean way, the forlorn or a hopeless way. But in a spot or a narration for a hospital, we have to infuse the word hope with a positive attitude, with compassion and complete sincerity. On the other end of the spectrum, I hear the word pain a lot in copy. And I hear it thrown away but this is another opportunity to infuse the word with emotion. When you're talking about pain and you're a sympathetic or empathetic person, when you say the word pain, you should be wincing a bit. A listener can hear it in your voice.

And here's a perfect example of how the sound of one word can provoke an emotional response. How many times have you called someone you know and just by the tone of one word they use to answer the phone. Hello. You can tell if something's amiss. It'll provoke you to either say, "Hi, how are you doing?" or "Are you okay?"

So if one word can get that kind of response, just think of how thousands of your other spoken words and phrases are perceived. There are enumerable words that you can color and give depth to whenever you come across them. These words are loaded with attitudes and emotions. Don't throw away the opportunity to infuse these words with the appropriate color, feeling, and attitude. When you say the word excitement or exciting, deliver it with an exclamation point.

An exclamation point is the only punctuation mark I know that literally connotes an emotion, excitement. When you talk about how a particular client cares, care should be delivered with concern and compassion. Whether they're nouns, verbs, adjectives or adverbs, don't throw these words away. For voice actors, words are easy to say and lift off the page effortlessly, but the listener needs to hear some thought and feeling behind those words.

When you really start thinking about them, words are easy to bring to life when you say them with the appropriate feeling or attitude. Here are just a few examples.

Friendly. Elegant. Patriotic. Confident. Sultry. Scary. Stiff. Sensual. Helpful. Funny. Concern. Evil. Tiring. Appetizing. Sad. Cautionary. Breathless. Wacky! Tough. Delicious. Carefree. Perky! Nervous. Stuffy. Mellow. Heroic. Magical. Cute! Bored. Sly. Exciting!

In my classes, I have my students say these and many other words with their accompanying meaning and sound and also have them say them with their opposite meaning and sound. It's funny to say friendly in an angry tone. It's funny to say confident in a wimpy way. And when you do this exercise, it becomes clear that as voice actors when we speak, we're painting a picture for the listener, compensating for the fact that they can't literally see us saying what we're saying.

A lot of the copy you get as a voice actor will not be chock-a-block with words and phrases that you'll be able to get behind emotionality. There's no emotional hook in 2.9 percent APR financing for 60 months on all vehicles in stock, but the next time you do get some copy to perform that has any kind of emotional words or phrases or theme, sit with those words for a minute. Feel the emotion behind the copy. Think about how you would feel. How someone you loved or something like a pet would feel and then deliver it with a newfound depth to the feeling.

I guarantee you that you'll start performing two-dimensional words on a page in three-dimensions. 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: Cashman Commercials, Coloring words, Copy, Giving Depth to Words, Interpretation, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques, Voice Acting, voice coach, Voice Overs


    Thank you for this excellent mini class. Marc is a wonderful talent and coach and I plan to put this lesson to work immediately. Thank you again Stephanie for bringing us the wisdom of one of our best and brightest and thank you Marc for sharing it here.

    Best wishes,


    Posted by:

      Your tips are absolutely perfect for my line of VO work which requires me to be so versatile sometimes, its hard not so sound formulaic.

      Thanks for the supportive podcast!


      Posted by:
      • Mathilda
      • August 28, 2008 3:37 PM

        Thanks Marc! Loved reviewing your list of words...a great way to practice emotions!!

        Posted by:
        • Susan Herrman
        • August 28, 2008 3:37 PM


          Thanks so much for this. Like many visible talent, I'm approached all too often by people who can do funny voices or have excellent elocution or FM radio guy pipes and I tell them all that the difference between crumbs and bagels in this business is being able to emote and in commercial copy sometimes changing your emotion 3 times in one sentence. I hear the word "easy" said so often in commercial or corporate copy where the word sounds "difficult" or ocassionally "impossible".

          I will refer many folks to this podcast.

          Thanks again,


          Posted by:

            Marc --

            You have such a wonderful way of distilling years of acting lessons (which as a stage actor, I did have) and applying their essence to the unique challenges of voice acting. I loved your presentation at Voice 2008 -- I took more away from that than I thought was possible in so short a time. Thanks so much for sharing this with the Voice community here on line, for the benefit of all.

            Much appreciated!


            Posted by:

              Thank you for the training...I have found training camp... it's amazing.

              I went to a school of Television Acting, I was a theater major, I have spoken on the radio in college, to speech classes, have done studio work for singing background, love to read children's stories, and with all of that background never have really broken in to the business the way I wanted.... Until now.....

              I have worked in the travel industry on the phone selling cruises, for twenty four years and did everything else on the side, auditions, and such.... as a professional I finally have a place to go to.....thank you....this part of the industry has always been esoteric.... no one wanted to share how to be a voice over professional... again thank you for being there.... for people like me....

              Posted by:
              • Rosalyn Smith
              • August 30, 2008 12:35 AM

                Marc, thank you *so* much for sharing your wisdom and experience with us like this. As Diane mentioned, it takes true talent to condense so much great information into such a small period of time. This is definitely a lesson that I intend to immediately apply!

                Thanks also to the folks at Voices.com for making the podcast possible. :)

                All the very best, -- Jodi

                Posted by:

                  Marc is a true inspiration to any voice actor and a super person. I am looking forward to working with him!

                  Posted by:

                    I am a beginning voice talent and I found this lesson very helpful, I was wowed by how he put the perfect inflection and emotion on the right words. Thanks!

                    Posted by:
                    • Adam
                    • August 31, 2008 7:49 PM

                      Not only is this a great podcast when considering the content, it is so well presented that I could listen again and again.

                      Thanks Marc - this one will be bookmarked for required listening for my class this week!

                      Posted by:

                        I was REALLY impressed with the non-stop stream of "emotive-words", each with a different feeling and inflection. Being able to switch to the right colour each time with such rapidity has got to be the mark of a man who has honed his art superbly. And I listed again to try and hear an edit or two, but I don't think there were any; just a bit of gating sometimes. I'd love to know if he rehearsed that a couple of times before recording?


                        Tony Reeves

                        Posted by:
                        • Tony Reeves
                        • September 2, 2008 11:05 PM

                          Thanks really enjoyed your podcast Marc. Very usefull and informative.

                          Thanks Nigel UK

                          Posted by:
                          • Nigel Hanbury
                          • September 9, 2008 12:07 AM

                            Excellent podcast Marc. It really rang home when you compared the art of "lifting" words versus coloring words with real emotion. Thanks for the good work!
                            Mitch Phillips

                            Posted by:

                              Very insightful, eye and ear opening and helpful.

                              Thanks Marc!

                              Posted by:

                                Very helpful, I could learn so much in such few words-you're a real Guru.

                                Thanks Marc.

                                Posted by:
                                • Bharat Mirchandani
                                • December 22, 2009 11:24 AM

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Voice Over Experts Podcast

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