A young person needs no training as to how to speak to an audience of about 500 people. They can start anywhere, as long as the words can be delivered clearly enough for a person sitting in the front row to understand what he and his fellow mime are saying. To achieve the necessary proficiency, young people need to master a variety of techniques, including some of those described below.
“To speak to a large audience,” says Stephen Brouwer, a spokesman for the Professional Ventriloquists Guild, a national organization, “you need both verbal and facial presentation skills.”
When Brouwer speaks at college events or conferences, he says the typical classroom experience consists of an hour of face-to-face classroom instruction followed by three or four sessions of group conversation. Ventriloquists who successfully complete the training receive their “Ventriloquist’s License” before they can start performing.
There are a variety of ways to perform, ranging from the simplest such as talking at close attention to a person with whom you are having a conversation, to more elaborate work that requires a combination of speaking and performance.
In either case, it takes time, a desire to improve and a commitment to success in the long run. For most young people, the process of learning how to perform ventriloquism seems more a matter of perseverance than skill.
“Young people get distracted by talking or singing, or doing exercises for tests,” said Brouwer. “Some do well but don’t really think about it, whereas others try to be a ventriloquist because they have no other interests. I often see people practicing by wearing their hair in pigtails and makeup, which works for their grandparents and great-great-grandparents, but not for the average student today.”
Although learning how to perform has a very strong payoff if you perform well, it also requires discipline. Young people who want to become ventriloquists, for all intents and purposes, have an obligation to pursue those opportunities in their lives rather than giving up their work-life balance. It is an attitude that, as the saying goes, is as essential as the hammer.
“You have to be strong, disciplined and diligent,” said Brouwer. “You have to have the right kind of mental attitude. Many young people get intimidated when they get into the business.
“I call it the hammer mentality,” he continued. “You have to know from
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