The Psychology of Narration
Setting the Dials for Intuitive Reads
You’re walking down the street and thinking ‘Bend knee, move leg forward, straighten leg, set foot down heel first, lean forward, lift the other leg…’ Of course not. You would fall over (and possibly be stopped by a beat cop and given a sobriety test). Walking, for the most part, is automatic. All you have to do is decide a few things before you set off (such as direction, speed and terrain) and the rest pretty much happens by itself. If you constantly thought about the mechanisms that allow you to stroll down the road while you’re strolling down the road, then you could be in serious trouble.
It’s the same with narration. There are preparatory choices and decisions to be made, of course, but the purest communication, the most connected communication comes from the heart. When we get stuck in our heads during a read, for example ‘How am I sounding?’, ‘Should the pitch go up or down here?’ or ‘Where the hell should I breathe in this mile-long paragraph?’ we end up pulling together a performance that seems inexplicably shallow. The listener probably won’t know why, but the message just doesn’t feel right. We’ve all been at a cocktail party, talking to someone who’s wearing the ‘I’m listening’ face and nodding politely, but we can sense that they’re scanning the room with their peripheral vision, looking for someone more interesting to talk to. How can we tell? Their face, body and voice seem to be doing all the right things, but somehow we just know they’re not really there with us. We can feel it. We’re a clever species (ok, that’s sometimes debatable) but we do have ways of sensing when the energy isn’t quite right.
Like everything in the perceivable Universe, vocal communication is vibration. If we don’t generate the right frequency within the body, it won’t transmit through the voice and, subsequently, won’t be there to reach the listener.
Okay, so how do we take this grand notion of Universal vibration and apply it to our little ole’ narration reads? I’m glad you asked. Let’s start with decisions made in the head and add some funky dials:
Think of intention as the verb. What are you trying to achieve with this communication? How do you want the message to be received? Are you informing, convincing, guiding, explaining, seducing? Intention is the leading head decision (the head head decision?) as it forms the foundation of the message. If you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re communicating, your read probably won’t hit the mark.
Pace is important, and must be considered, but you needn’t think too hard about it as it usually takes its cue from the intention and the visuals. If the intention is seducing, for example, it’s unlikely that you’ll be speed reading. If the visuals are of racing jet skis, then a slow-as-molasses delivery probably won’t be the best choice.
Is the narration aimed at toddlers learning their first words or is it for a film presentation to Oncologists about a new cancer treatment? Setting your Formality dial informs your reads in ways you won’t even have to think about. Just know who you’re talking to.
Ok, so now that you’ve done all your ‘thinky-think’ and dialed it in with Intention, Pace and Formality, it’s time to lose your mind. Literally. Visualize all your heady choices dropping down into your heart area and generate the feeling of the intention. If your spine tingles during the read, chances are the listeners’ spines will tingle too. Everything. Is. Vibration.
Set your narration dials, feel your way into the message and get ready to create more intuitive and connected narration reads.
Dian Perry is a US voice artist, teacher and coach based in the UK.
Visit DianPerry.com for more info.
“the most connected communication comes from the heart.”
“we do have ways of sensing when the energy isn’t quite right.”
“If you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re communicating, your read probably won’t hit the mark”
"know who you’re talking to.”
“Everything. Is. Vibration.”