Voice Over Tips
Updated: May 31, 2020
Also on voice over talk channel ( coming soon)
As an actor and a voice artist obviously I am going to say a lot of this applies to acting for Camera, Stage and Vo work. In fact any time you use your voice and you are communicating these tips apply. So Tip One is use your own Voice. Breathing and Vocal exercises, I look at in coaching, but they are there to help you use your voice to full capacity for whatever medium. To help you communicate clearly and easily. A lot of people including some professionals use a "Voice Over voice" which may work for some things, but after a while, if it doesn't ring true it won't work. Unless "your voice" becomes a recognizable product in itself, like with some celebrity voices. Then they get used for certain products or film promos. But, my advice after 30 years consistently working in all these mediums, VOs for 20, use your own accent, your own sound. Put it this way do you put a voice on when you are telling a loved one something important or even just chatting, unless for comedic effect. Even then, the best character voices have to be believable. And if you are able to use your voice, without being self conscious about it, you can sound authentic and believable whatever accent or character you put on. Variety is the spice of Life!
Tell a story to someone. Whether advertising, selling, instructing, narrating, promoting. You are telling someone about something. It has a beginning and a middle and an end. This is best described with a Radio Ad. The first few seconds of the Ad either get your attention or not. Ever heard a voice that starts an Ad and you just don't care what they say next..It's not necessarily a dull voice, it's just they don't connect. And connecting isn't always, as some advertisers would have you believe about being young and cool. If you tell it with intention, you will get their attention! The next bit is the content or product or story, or information. Then you need to be familiar with it. The final bit, in advertising, is the call to action. Or punch line or story end. So like a story we slow down and say where to find the product or what to do next. Come to this Store, buy this today. This is a huge topic and again centres on knowing what you are saying and saying it to someone with intention. All the techniques of voice and inflection won't help you if you can't tell a story genuinely about what you are saying or selling. When you have done some public speaking/ acting/ or just feel comfortable talking in front of a mic. Then you can play around it too. It's also a lot to do with text and playing with words, words, words. Go read out loud, go practise. Record your self and listen. Did you get bored??
Be authentic. So this ties in with the above. You don't have to go all method on why you like the car. But if you are doing a 30 sec VO on a car and don't sound convinced. Then it won’t sell very much and they will probably choose another VO next time. Talk to someone across the mic is a simple way to play with this idea and helps project the voice too. Again play with the words. When I look at the text to a VO I approach like an acting piece. Tell the story, be real and make interesting choices with how you stress the words within context of the whole story and do what the Director or client wants.
Confidence. Perhaps not so strangely the most important, and not the arrogant self delusional feeling of I am brilliant. Confident comes with practise, so you know you can do it, but also you know you must keep practising to keep learning. One of the key aspects of performing as an actor in front of a camera is not being self conscious but delivering the text truthfully and in a way that is interesting or exciting. So not just truthful, but has a good interpretation. So same as a camera, the microphone doesn’t lie. If you are tense or not making sense the mic will amplify that, literally. Become familiar with the text. Focus on what you are saying and tell someone.
Basic technical. Become familiar with the text. Learn to read ahead. Reading out loud is a skill. Keep a hands distance from the mic. If you get closer, beware of mouth noises, come off the Voice, and articluate more. Pace and speed can be altered just by how much you project or come off the voice as you get closer to mic.. All things to play with and become familiar with.
Marketing. This is like anything. Even if you are really good, it's difficult to get out there. A lot of average voices, will do well if they are brilliant at marketing themselves. So just get better and start with doing voices for your friends website or even Small business owners locally. There are many you tube videos on this and how to market online. Check out locally first is my advice. The busiest, as in making money voice artists do a lot of work through referalls and repeat business and not just getting more and more clients!!! .. Social media just exploded so get your head round what you can do best and where that may be most required.