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Impressions are an imitation of a person, character or sound, usually done for entertainment purposes. Impressions encompass all natural, historical and created or synthetic sounds, ranging from the sound of water bubbling, animal noises, to the voice of a cartoon character, to the voice of a president. Since the world of impressions is so diverse, you must know what the subject of your imitation is.
Once you have determined the subject for your impression, it is best to break down the traits of what your subject has. For example, an impression of a politician may differ based on various traits, such as the sex, accent, dialect, pitch and speed of the speaker. If you have a specific person in mind, you should observe the syntaxes and small details of that person’s speech pattern. Similarly, if you are doing an impression of an animal or sound, it can be helpful to break the sound into small parts and combine them once you have mastered them individually.
Studying the behaviour and mannerisms of the person you are doing an impression of can help you vocalise and act as the person in an even more convincing manner. If the person you are making an impression of has any distinctive vocal characteristics such as a hoarse throat, a speech impediment, a soft or booming voice, practice speaking with those qualities. Identifying other character traits such as a character’s penchant to be grandiose, or reserved, happy, or have a negative affect, or being jumpy; or calm, can help you better enter the character not just in behaviour but attitude.
Watching videos or listening to sound clips of the object, creature or individual you are doing an impression of can serve as both a guide on how to convey the object’s qualities in your impression, and also serve as a baseline to compare your performance to. Recording yourself and comparing your voice to the subject of your impression can highlight any issues that need to be addressed, and show how close you are to having a perfect impression. You can also learn tips from professional impressionists to hone your skills. Learning to mimic sounds can take some effort, but being able to do impressions will be a lot of fun, both in and outside of the work environment!