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How do you do impressions?

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Quick Answer

Good impressions depend on analyzing a subject’s perspective and characteristics, accurate vocal control and frequent practice. Impressionists imitate the voices and mannerisms of other people, typically celebrities and politicians.

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Full Answer

Performing a good impression of a subject requires carefully studying that person and coming to recognize his distinct personality traits. An important part of performing accurate impressions is not just imitating voices, but also behaving in a way that evokes the subject’s attitude. How an impressionist acts is nearly as important as how he speaks. Impressionists often imitate famous actors, whose personalities can vary greatly between roles. A good impressionist must draw on traits that are familiar to audiences in order to communicate an impression successfully.

Effective vocal control is another important aspect to performing quality impressions. A skilled impressionist can manipulate his voice in order to imitate a wide range of public figures. Precise instructions for vocal imitation are difficult to convey, and many impressionists are unable to explain specifically how they imitate the voices of others. A talented impressionist simply understands his specific vocal range and figures out voices he can imitate and those he cannot.

Like any skill, an impressionist’s abilities come from frequent practice. An impressionist must work to hone his imitations, often studying subjects for extended periods of time. To perform an impression well, an impressionist may also study and practice specific types of accents.

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