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Voice actor visits City Day to discuss confident public speaking

Voice actor visits City Day to discuss confident public speaking

As you get older, you’re going to have to do presentations, whether you want to be a lawyer, a doctor, actor, engineer — whatever you end up doing, you will have to talk to people. Lizzie Waterworth Voice Actor

A woman who entertains countless children with her voice told Chicago City Day School students that public speaking skills are a key to future success.

“As you get older, you’re going to have to do presentations, whether you want to be a lawyer, a doctor, actor, engineer — whatever you end up doing, you will have to talk to people,” said Lizzie Waterworth, an accomplished voice actor who has performed in beloved animated shows like Bob the Builder and Horrid Henry. “More importantly, if you want to make change in the world, be a change maker … you have to be good at speaking.”

Ms. Waterworth visited City Day to talk to students about how to speak with confidence, even when feeling scared or anxious. She’s writing a book on the subject; it is scheduled to be released in September 2023.

City Day students understand the challenges and rewards of public speaking better than most. The school stresses public speaking throughout its curriculum, asking students to deliver speeches in front of classmates and teachers starting in senior kindergarten. Students hone their skills in their classrooms, during special events like Science Fair, and on the stage as part of our drama program, to give just a few examples.

“You guys are amazing,” Ms. Waterworth told the students. “I’m hoping to learn from you today!”

During her visit, Ms. Waterworth talked about her job as a voice actor, stressing that even after performing in more than 1,000 cartoons, she still gets nervous. The famous actors she has worked with also feel some anxiety when they enter the recording studio, she said.

“It’s totally, totally normal,” she said. 

Ms. Waterworth talked about “virtual realization,” a trick she uses to overcome nervousness. The idea is to take a moment to imagine her audience smiling during her performance, completely engaged in her work. Doing that drives away her nerves and makes her feel relaxed and happy, she said.

She asked students how they deal with anxiety they feel before giving a speech or performing on stage. One student said she reminds herself that no one in the audience knows the subject as well as she does at that moment. Another said he tries to think of people in the audience as friends who won’t judge him if he slips up during a speech. Other students said they try counting or taking deep breaths to relax.

Ms. Waterworth plans to incorporate tips offered by City Day students into her book. She said she hopes to return to City Day after the book is published next fall.

“Thank you for helping me finish my book!” she said. 

Students also got a chance to create and perform their own voice work during Ms. Waterworth's visit. She asked students to break into small groups to create original cartoon characters and develop voices for them. The groups then presented their characters, and performed the characters' voices, to the audience. 

See additional photos from Ms. Waterworth’s visit below.

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