Voice Actor's Notebook

List of acting emotions for practice

(Note: Due to the popularity of this post, I’ve moved it from the archives to the home page.) Voice over acting is just that — acting. Which means that you must have the ability to express a myriad of emotions through only the sound of your voice. And it must be done in a completely believable way.

How can you do this? How can you gain the almighty “Voice of Believability”? Through practice, of course! (Sorry, no “instant-voice-actor” magic pill.)

In the post titled making the copy your own we discussed one of the best ways to insert your own emotions into the copy. And now, using the following list of acting emotions, you can better organize your practice sessions and make them even more effective. Here’s the list:

List of acting emotions for practice:

  • anger
  • anticipation
  • anxiety
  • arrogance
  • embarrassment
  • boredom
  • confidence
  • contentment
  • depression
  • disappointment
  • disgust
  • ecstasy
  • exhaustion
  • fear
  • frustration
  • guilt
  • happiness
  • hope
  • hysteria
  • impatience
  • jealousy
  • loneliness
  • love
  • lovesick
  • lust
  • mischievous
  • passion
  • romance
  • shock
  • shyness
  • suspicion

One way I like to practice is to take a plain-old sentence like “How would you like to go to the mall today?” and run it through the list of acting emotions. If you have the time, write each one on their own small piece of paper and put them in a bag. Then pick one at random and do the read. For more variety, prepare a second bag of practice sentences. Choose one sentence and one emotion at random and act them out.

(By the way…if there are any more emotions you’d like to add to the list, feel free to post them to the comment section below. I’ll then update the list!)

Be sure to read the next part called
The intentions behind the words


  1. This is great!
    Maybe this doesn’t count as an emotion, but sarcastic is a pretty expressive one to try! Maybe I just love sarcasm too much 🙂

  2. Thank you this is a great tip for practicing at home!

    How about anticipation… and disappointment ? 🙂

  3. This was a great activity. I have done something similar to this using the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.
    Some additional emotions I have also used are:

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