Voice-Over Tips and Insights

Ilyana Kaudushin

Insights & Tips: Audiobook Narration


Voices.com presents Ilyana Kadushin sharing insights and tips to audiobook narration, specifically for the genre of Children’s Fantasy.

Listen here

Hosts: Stephanie Ciccarelli, Julianna Lantz, with special guest, Ilyana Kadushin.

Tips for Commercial Voice-Over

Tone of voice: How do you want your audience to feel?

Words matter. We have heard this phrase many times. And yes they do 100% matter. The words you choose will affect what your listener takes away in terms of your message and your call to action. No doubt you have also heard the phrase, it’s not what you say but HOW you say it. The same words can land so differently depending on the attitude and emotional intention you have laced through it. In the world of commercial advertising and life in general, we are sensitive to when we are being “sold to”, “manipulated” or “forced to feel or act’. As voice-over performers being asked to voice these commercials, you have the task of taking the words someone else has provided you and choosing tones that not only fit the product being sold but somehow connect with your audience. You want the audience to hear the WHAT, aka the “the words” and they might investigate further and buy said product. That is what the client, the person hire you, wants from your voice over. What do you do when you are being directed by (client, producer, director) in a way that feels unnatural?

When the tone is chosen at random and sometimes you may be directed in a session to use a tone that feels forced, it will be ever so important that you then focus on the WHO you are talking to, so you can at the very least craft a more conversational/natural tone. This kind of script analysis will help you not only nail the session but also your auditions. I teach this in my coaching, so let’s work together on this and get this second nature for you.

– Xoxilyana

Voice Over Keys: Do We Need These

What does it take In order to give competitive auditions in voice-over casting sessions?

Start by asking your self these questions:

What are the default places in your voice? This can be placed in your voice and also tones and qualities you always go to.

Do you really adjust your voice and tone when you are directed? Is your ear really hearing it or are you lost in EGO?

Can you go into an audition with a clear choice but remain flexible and really listen to adjustments? What helps you move into this place?

These are good places to start…and ideas I work on in my coaching sessions with clients.

What do you think? What are some challenges for you?

– Xoxilyana 

Voice-Over: Finding your Place” “INSIGHT PLUS ACTION”

Helping people find “their place” in this Voice-Over is a big part of my coaching.

Often we hear the word NICHE, used to illustrate, finding your place in the marketplace. And I am asked what does this really mean?

Any time we enter into a new arena, we look for a way in right? A way to introduce ourselves to that arena, in this case, VOICE-OVER. It does not mean we have to STAY in the same way we enter, it simply allows us to be seen clearly, so that those listening to us, can see where you can be marketed clearly.

Down the road in your VO work, you will, of course, show all sorts of range and tones. In commercial area specifically, we enter in, to show what kind of spots we could be sent out for and where our god given voice sits, no matter what words we are interpreting. We can also get hints about our niche by the comments other people make to us about our voice. When I was first starting out, many casting people and producers told me that my voice had a youthful energy and brightness (hence the sesame photo I have here, I got a lot of children spots! ?

We find this niche, which then helps us find the right script copy, which all help make a great reel.
Next time you are watching television, pay attention to commercials and the types of voices you are hearing. Notice when you hear a spot that you think will fit your voice. Be guided by some basics: Gender- what types of spots are men doing vs. women? Age- what spots need younger sounding voices or mature ones?, Tones- spots that convey, for example, silliness vs intensity. And think- where do I and my voice fit into all this?


Are we Performing or Being?

As a performer and performance coach, I am often asked- what I think are the keys to creating a powerful performance? I thought I would share them with you and expand on what I mean.

I believe the keys are:
*Creating a strong CONNECTION to the material
*Well trained Chops, ie: putting in the time to hone your CRAFT and your INSTRUMENT.
*Knowing how to WIELD your ENERGY.
*Creating a strong connection to the material, the story and project you are in, is so VITAL.

Your connection gives you JUICE. Investigate what is behind the story and it’s meaning to you and let it suffuse your body, voice, and energy, Trust me, your audience can tell and feel how you are connecting or not connecting to something.

*Being well trained seems like a no-brainer. Well, you would be surprised at how many people I have encountered, who are “putting the cart before the horse”. Meaning, they have not gotten to know their own instrument and are really struggling to be “something”, instead of being their perfectly magical SELF.

*So, what do I mean by, “Knowing how to WIELD your own ENERGY?

I have had some incredible teachers. One, in particular, Andre Gregory, and his wisdom as stayed with me since I worked with him at NYU. He spoke about the act of “BEING” not “PERFORMING”. He saw creating art as conducting ENERGY and that when we were playful with our own energy and allowing being without judgment, there was a magical emergence of a powerful performance.

You have to get to know your SELF, in a deep way and also get out of your own way, this is the balancing i investigate in my performing and my coaching.

What do you think? Send me a message!


Content Communication Key | CAN WE HEAR YOUR INVESTMENT?

Whenever I am listening to someone speak about their work, a public speaker giving a speech or a ted talk; there is always a common thread that connects me to this person and what they are speaking about.

It’s the KEY that brings their content of thoughts, ideas and dreams to a plan where communication thrives. I can HEAR their investment in what they are talking about. What do I mean by investment? Some may automatically think about a money investment. And if so, then think of this as ownership. Do you own what you say? When we are invested in something, we give so much of ourselves to it; our energy, our passion, our heart. We, the listener, can hear this. It’s like a light is shining through their voice and it perks us up and brings us in as the listener, we want to understand and know more. However, we can also hear when someone is not invested and is ambivalent, lackluster or even auto-piloting their ideas out to you. You not only don’t want to keep listening but you are more confused as what they are talking about. So a major KEY to content communication is being invested in your content and I bet it will naturally improve your ability to speak about it. Thanks for reading!

In 3 Minutes- What does your listener really get from you?

Albert Mehrabian, a pioneer researcher of body language in the 1960’s, found that: the total impact of a message is about 7 percent verbal (words only) 38 percent vocal (including tone of voice, inflection, and other sounds) and 55 percent nonverbal.

Being a Voice coach, I find this idea fascinating. One could say that in the 1st 3 minutes of talking to client or your “audience”, can either reach them with impact or a disconnect. Maybe even the first minute!

Let’s break down what these % of impact could mean for a speaker.

According to Mehrabian, the actual “Content, Words, Script” has only 7% impact on your audience. So what does have the impact on them? 38% is “Vocal” impact, meaning the choices you make with your voice of Tone, Inflection, Emphasis, etc. That is quite an increase of impact between 7% words and 38% vocal choices. Sounds a lot like “It’s not WHAT you say but HOW you say it”. When I work with clients on their voice and the “vocal” choices we make, the focus is on the audience and how the tone and inflection will reach through the words and really get their attention. And receiving “Attention” from your audience is the hardest thing to get in today’s media frenzy culture.

Now here is the biggest impact area of public speaking – 55% non-verbal.

I think most people are unaware that their “Non-Verbal” messages carry such impact in their presentations and performances. So, what are these non-verbal influences? Body Language, Facial Expressions and I think most importantly, the energy you bring into the room or speech.

I think this is important information whether you are speaking live to a large crowd, talking to 5 people in a conference room or video conference or your voice alone in a voice-over for advertising. You will always need to give focus to what you say, how you say it and what energy and massage your body, face, and personality are bringing to your listeners.

Personally, as a public speaker and voice-over artist, I have seen and felt this many times.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you,

Being an Artist and Community Engagement ideas

Being an Artist Today and Using Social Media for Good

It’s deep late summer here in NYC and although the sun is shining, the world is ablaze with violence and unrest.

As both an artist and activist, every day day i find myself faced with what to think?, what to say? and how to respond to what is happening? To do this I must return again to a subject i wrote a previous blog about; right before i led a screening and workshop in Maryland about what it means to be an artist today and how to use social media for good.

It is more vital than ever that we don’t shut down. That we don’t get overwhelmed by the current events and either go mute in fear of offending or swing the other and argue for the sake of arguing. What is between that? Healthy debate. Vigorous discussion. Creating art that shares points of view intelligently and thoughtfully.

If you also see this world and others in it as a part of a larger community, then we have a responsibility to be awake to what is happening. And as artists we can bring new light to subjects others may sweep under the rug. Artists can spark much needed conversations and new perspectives.

So where does social media come into play? How can we possibly really be in each others living rooms or dining room tables to discuss the events of the world in a thoughtful way? Social media then takes on this great weight as it virtually brings us to each others tables to have conversations. So what will you bring to the table? Social Media Junk or Gold?

What is Social Media JUNK?: Content and threads in social media that are mean spirited and filled with angry intentions that are meant only to divide and separate us further by: race, religion and economic, sexual and social backgrounds.

What is Social Media GOLD?: content that unites us as human beings and sparks discussions that evolve us as a community with mindfulness. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mean POLITICAL CORRECTNESS. Speak truthfully and if your underbelly is gold intentions, you will be using social media for GOOD.

– xoxIlyana

Lift Every Voice: Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

On April 21, 2018, I visited this new museum for the first time and it was a very special visit.

In 2011, I co-produced and co-created the score for a documentary film called “Separate, But Equal”. This is a film was about the photographer, Henry Clay Anderson, whose photographs captured the birth of the black middle class during legal segregation in Greenville, Mississippi. These photographs and the stories behind them we feature in our film, are on exhibit in this incredible new museum! Visiting this museum with the Director of our film, Shawn Wilson was extra special.

I could not be more proud to be associated in with this important and historically relevant place in America. I also sing the African American National Anthem in the soundtrack and the lyrics by James Weldon Johnson are so powerful:
Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Imagination, key to the creative process

Like Tara Brach, I have heard another voice that has reached through and captured my fascination. John ODonohue. A former priest, a poet and spiritual teacher. His words ring so true, especially if you are an artist and struggle to understand your creative process. Here are just a few…

“The nature of the heart, is that it is dreaming of the beyond. And this longing is the source of all creativity.”
“There is a whole invisible world we cannot see with our eye, that is crucial to who we are, the imagination is the faculty that brings you in touch these presences.”
“Creativity derives from the disturbance of longing and faith is a helpless attraction to the divine. ”

LOVE this. I think that in those moments, where we may doubt the creative process and the timing of when the blossoms of your efforts may occur; we can remember that imagination is energy. We have a choice in those moments. We can ignore our struggle and forge ahead in pain OR honor our imagination and it’s longing and have faith in its journey.


Ariel Hyatt, a dear friend, owner of Cyber PR and an entrepreneur force of nature, asked me to be a part of a blog she was creating about Women in Music Industry. She said, “Here is the reality: Women are still under-represented all over this business and sadly women in the music industry are practically invisible online.”

So she put a call out and asked female entrepreneurs to SHOW THEMSELVES and offer their advice on what they have learned in their careers.

As a partner in my own business, a music and media production company, Lythion Music, I feel there have been some lessons unique to my experience being a woman in this business. I love the independence and creative power that comes with your production company and each project has its own challenges and joys. Here is my TOP ADVICE I offered in her article:

“Never Underestimate the Power of Your Intuition”

“My top advice would be, to use your Intuition and never underestimate it’s powerful assistance when Advocating for your self and your company. Also super important, is to reconnect every day with why you created your company, your passion and connection to it, is KEY to keep it growing.”
Here is a link to the full blog article, where you can read all the women’s advice.

Thanks for Reading! https://cyberprmusic.com/category/blog/

What is the purpose of the Artist in 2014? Social Progress, Social Media and your Voice in it.

Happy Summer! Hope you are keeping cool.
Summer so far for me has been this awesome balance of work and play. Tomorrow I will travel to Maryland to lead a special workshop that speaks to some ideas that get me fired up and very inspired; especially when I speak to very young artists, just starting out.
After screening one of my producing and scoring projects, the documentary film, “Separate, But Equal”; I will lead these artists in a workshop that speaks to:

What is the purpose of the artist in 2014?
How do we find our Call to Action in this life?
How does Social Media and our voice in it, help our Social Progress as a community at large?

I will use creative writing, filmmaking and public speaking coaching with these artists, to explore these questions! To be clear, when I say ARTIST,
I mean: writers, actors, directors, filmmakers, musicians, photographers…all CREATIVE types.
Here’s what I need. I want to hear from you about this! How would you answer these questions? I would love to share some thoughts from some of you artists and art lovers out there during this workshop. So, leave me a comment!

Thanks for Reading, xoxoi

Audio Book Narration

Becoming an Audiobook Narrator

I recently did an interview with Voices, an online voice-over market, and community

about my audiobook narration career. We cover everything from how I entered the

business, how I prepare to do a narration and some advice and tips to those just beginning.

Here is a link to the interview:


Once upon a time…my path through voice performing

I was at a general meeting with an agent when she commented on my speaking voice and asked if I knew about voice-over performance. At the time I did not. I loved the idea of creating a financial foundation for my other creative goals and still in the performance arena. This agent sent me to a coach, who I studied with privately and also made a demo reel with. I loved this work and I was off and running after that! The Commercial voice-over area was my first hurdle. After I booked a few national television spots, I signed with an agent and started being sent out on auditions on a regular basis. I really got my feet submerged in the world of advertising, doing voice-overs for some of the biggest Ad agencies for both t.v. and radio.

One day I was called in to audition for a Promo gig, actually, it was bigger than that, it was to be the voice of a channel, a whole block of programming on Nickelodeon called Nick Jr. Of course, I did not know all of this the day of the audition and I am glad, as I just went in and was myself and really enjoyed the material. Well, I booked that gig and kept it for 5 1/2 years! Performing promos for shows like Blues Clues, Dora, Little Bill, Bob the builder and more! It was very unusual for a woman to get a big promo gig like this, so I was thrilled! And I love quality children’s programming and being a voice to inspire childlike imagination and learning..it was a DREAM GIG. I also started booking animation and video games, like Lord of The Rings. I loved this too, as each voice-over arena required a different type of performance. One day, I noticed the audiobook section in a Barnes and Noble, seeing how so many incredible actors were narrating them.

The next day, I asked my agent about them and expressed my interest in auditioning for some. A few months later I got my first audition, for an audiobook called Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I have since narrated over 50 titles and fell in love with this long form of voice performance. Telling stories is what most artists crave and this was bringing it all to life, with my favorite instrument, the VOICE.

My voice career has allowed me to build my music production company, where I have co-produced music and sound for all mediums. I am so grateful for the opportunities it provided.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to introducing you to this path as well.


Public Speaking Tips

5 Speech Tips to Find your Voice for the Big Interview

It’s Autumn in New York and I love that hint of chill in the air while the sun is shining, as it wakes me up and gets my creative energy moving.

I was recently interviewed and contributed to an article in US NEWS and WORLD Report’s Money and Career section, about how our voice impacts the interview.
Some areas I covered are:
*Our compulsive use of “Filler Words”, UM, LIKE, WHAT NOT.
*How listening better to the other person, can help our response be more relaxed and authentic.
*How to bring true authority to your voice.

Read the article here: 5 Speech Tips to Find Your Voice for the Big Interview


5 TIPS to Relax and Free your VOICE

A big part of being able to EXPLORE your voice and where it can go, starts with RELAXING it.

It is an instrument after all, like your body, and tension and stress, only inhibits your voice more. So start with the goal of relaxing your voice and then you can FREE it. As a performer and performance coach, I am often asked- what I think are the keys to creating a powerful performance? I thought I would share them with you and expand on what I mean.

I believe the keys are:
*Creating a strong CONNECTION to the material
*Well trained Chops, ie: putting in the time to hone your CRAFT and your INSTRUMENT.
*Knowing how to WIELD your ENERGY.

5 Tips to help you get there:
1) Hydrate. Dehydration only makes your voice more dry and tense. So drink several glasses of water and tea every day, especially before and after your voice work.

2) Warm -up Routine. Do you have one? Most actors, unless they are also singers, have not built in the vocal warmup, into their daily routine and prep work. This is KEY. Your instrument needs a tune-up every day. Even if it is a short one (no less than 15minutes), just DO IT! And make sure it incorporates your breathing work. Breath support is another KEY. *If you don’t have a warm up routine from a voice teacher already, i offer several in my coaching that are tailor made for your voice.

3) Where is your Mind? If you want to relax and free your voice, it also starts your mind.
Stressed Mind= Stressed Voice. So you could begin your voice warm up, with a mental meditation where you see your voice, relaxed and free. Do not underestimate your mind’s power in this process.

4) Move your Body! Exercise and moving your body, getting a good sweat going, is one of the BEST warmup preps for your voice. There is a powerful connection between the body, the mind and the voice. So as you can see, my TIPS are about supporting these connections and that’s when the vocal freedom you find, is authentic.

5) Permission to Speak Freely. You have permission. Give it to your self! Connecting with our spirit and passion, this allows the voice to free up and is so beneficial to this process. I have seen this time and time again, the direct connection between a person who is locked up and tight in their voice and a gap that is revealed in our work, between their understanding of their own spirit and what they are passionate about.

So to Recap! The Keys to Voice Relaxation and Freedom, where your journey to explore your voice begins are:
1) Hydration
2) A Vocal Warmup Daily Routine
3) Mind Mediation
4) Move your Body
5) Permission and Passion to speak freely.


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