Projection and Emphasis

Lesson 7:

Projection and Emphasis


Lesson Objective: Students will be able to understand the principles of projection as they participate in classroom activities including a game of bus stop.



EUs and EQs:

  • Self-care is important.
  • We need to work hard and be healthy.
  • Projection is not just talking loudly. It is not yelling or raising your voice. It is supporting your breath and not straining your vocal chords.
  • What is projection?
  • How do we project?
  • How do projection and diction work together?


Materials Needed:

  • Guided Relaxation Scenario (example given below in the lesson)
  • Perhaps a whiteboard and markers to write the definition of projection



Have students pair up.  Have them stand 8-10 feet away from their partner.  All at the same time, have students tell each other about something they did in the last two days.  Have them whisper their story to their partner.  How hard was it to hear because of the whispering?  Because of the chaos of everyone talking at once?  How can you listen if you are always talking?


Step 1:

Have you ever been to a performance where you couldn’t hear the actors? How did that affect your perception of the show? Why is dialogue and voice so important?


Transition into projection. This is the way that we make our voices heard.


Define Projection: a thing that extends outward from something else. So, in theatre, when you are projecting, you are extending your voice outward beyond you. Sometimes, in learning to project, it can be helpful to image your voice going out to the back of the audience in an auditorium or to the back of the classroom. Let’s try together: Face the far wall, we will all say a phrase together, trying to imagine our voices being able to hit the back wall and bounce back to us.”


Another thing that helps is using your diaphragm. Let’s practice breathing with our diaphragm.

(Diaphragm: a dome-shaped, muscular partition separating the thorax from the abdomen in mammals. It plays a major role in breathing, as its contraction increases the volume of the thorax and so inflates the lungs.)


Step 2:

Guided Relaxation example: “You are walking in a forest. You see trees all around you. There is the faint sound of water from a stream close to where you are. The grass is soft underneath you. Listen for the sound of birds. Etc…”


Remind students of our previous breathing exercise. Have them again place hands on stomach just under their ribcage. Breathe in and out a few times, careful to breathe from diaphragm, not chest. Your shoulders should not be moving.


Now, have them sit up and practice using that breathe to support them. Start with a sound, then work up to a tongue twister.


Ex: have all students say “ha” with you. “Ha, ha, ha.” Can you feel your stomach moving with that sound? Projecting is all about supporting your breath with your diaphragm. Move on to “Hello.” Say that together a few times. You may then use the following tongue twister or replace it another: “Harold helped the hungry heffalumps.”


Step 3:

Diction and enunciation are going to be synonyms for our class today. Enunciation is the act of speaking clearly. Tongue twisters are great at helping us to enunciate/have clear diction.


Step 4:

Practice diction with the following exercise:


You will say each line the students will repeat after you. Start slowly for the first round.

  • The diction is done with the tip of the tongue
  • The tip of the tongue, the teeth, the lips
  • The lips the teeth the tip of the tongue
  • The tip of the the tip of the tip of the tongue
  • Faster more diction! (start back over from the beginning going slightly faster. Encourage students to continue speaking as clearly as possible.)


Step 5:

Now that students are warmed up vocally, have them get in their groups and practice their scene. They must, however, be listening to each other. If anyone in their group starts to slur their words or isn’t projecting, they should stop and start the scene over again. Their goal is to complete their scene all the way through with no problems before the end of the class. They also shouldn’t lose the character voice that they created a few classes ago.


You can walk around as an extra pair of ears to catch when people aren’t supporting their breath or aren’t speaking clearly.