According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, the word ventriloquism comes from the Latin words venter meaning “belly or paunch,” and locutus meaning “to speak.”  Accordingly, ventriloquism would be the act of “speaking from the belly.”  In actual fact, ventriloquism is the art of speaking in such a manner that the voice appears to come from a source other than the speaker.

As with magic tricks, the real skill of the performer is measured in how well he or she is able to distract the audience from observing certain “tricks” that are being done right in front of them.  Generally, a Magician must rely on carefully practiced “slight of hand” routines.  A Ventriloquist, on the other hand1, has his dummy2.

Our large Full-Body Puppets can be used just like a Ventriloquist's dummy. These puppets are designed to sit easily on the puppeteer's lap but may also be carried in the puppeteer’s arms.  Head and mouth movement is easily accessed through a slit in the puppet's back.  Reach into the opening and grasp the inside of the mouth with your hand.  Twist your wrist to make the puppet look to the left and right.  A new puppet may be somewhat stiff until you have operated it for a time and “loosened it up.”  Next, try making the puppet nod it’s head back and forth.  Now, using the included arm rod, make your puppet gesture while opening and closing it's mouth. Practice doing this while turning the puppet’s head from side to side.

Now you are ready to practice the art of ventriloquism.  We recommend that, if possible, you do this in front of a large mirror so you can see how you and your puppet look while practicing.  Say the alphabet from A to Z, in a loud clear voice, but try not to move your lips while doing it.  A was easy and sounded good, but B sounded like E (if you didn’t move your lips).  The next letter that you will have trouble with is M, and then P, and then W.  Not too bad, only 6 out of 26 letters are hard to do!  The problem is that there are many important words in our regular conversations that contain the same difficult sounds as these letters have.  Try saying “Pocahontas broke her umbrella in Picadilly.”  If you can say that without moving your lips, you’re a lot better at it than we are.  You could try saying the same thing while avoiding difficult words as in “An Indian girl got wet in England,”  but this is generally impractical.  Here is where your puppet comes in.  Without moving your lips, have your puppet say A, B, C, but when you say B, have your puppet rock to one side suddenly, turning it’s head so as to say the letter in another direction.  The eyes of the audience will follow the puppet’s motion and miss the slight movement of your lips as you pronounce the B.  A good rule is “The more energetic or erratic a puppet is, the more distraction it provides.”

Lastly, change your puppet’s voice so that it doesn’t sound exactly like yours and speak the puppet’s voice as loudly or louder than you do your own voice.

1 No pun intended!
2 We prefer to use the term "Puppet"