If you’ve ever listened back to any of your voiceover reads and thought, “something’s not quite right, but I don’t know why…maybe I need a voiceover lesson”…then this blog’s for you. J
You may have been complimented on your voice many times, but you’ll probably have heard that having a ‘great voice’ is not necessarily what makes a great voiceover artist.
Voiceover is the art of converting someone else’s written language into ‘spoken word’, so it sounds as though you own it.
“Yeah, sure, okay”, you might be thinking. “Easy. I can do that. “
But the truth is, it’s not always easy to convert copy or text.
The reasons can be varied.
Sometimes the copy is written so that you’re:
- required you to create a strong visual or a character style read
- using language in a way that you normally wouldn’t
- using words or explaining concepts that are unfamiliar, or
- working with text that’s written in a very ‘stylised’, unnatural way
In this voiceover lesson I want to share with you an example of a script that could present a problem to an inexperienced voice actor and give some tips and techniques for bringing the language in that script to life and make it sound real, when it’s anything but real.
SFX clock timer throughout
FVO: clear voice, excited, animated, she also reads out the answers just in a slightly different-sounding voice
Let’s start the 30-second quiz. The subject is…healthy.
Do you eat well?
Yes! (SFX ding)
Do you exercise?
Yes! (SFX ding)
Do you use Aveeno Daily Moisturising lotion?
Err no. (SFX dong)
Start now! The Active Naturals Oatmeal formula is clinically proven to start working after one day and you’ll see a significant improvement after just two weeks. (SFX winning dings)
In this ad, you’re required to create a strong visual of the environment.
In this case, imagine a television quiz set. The voice is supported by sound effects (SFX) of buzzers and dings, so it’s fun.
And…the voice casting has the same voice doing both characters.
The first thing you do is work out:
- who are the character’s and which is the most important.
- what the product is (and where it first appears)
- where the message is, and
- where are the key words and phrases in the script
You’ve been supplied with a ‘character brief‘ for this script, which can sometimes be helpful, but not necessarily a definitive guide about what to do.
Look at the first three sections down to where the ‘Timer stops’.
I would call this the first scene.
If you’re in the studio with a producer, you would often do the secondary character first, to get that out of the way. You’ll just be doing a variety of ‘yes’ and ‘err no’ responses.
For this, you need to image yourself as quickly buzzing in an answer.
Secondary character’s almost always need to be fast because they are not ‘the ad’
The most important character is the main female voice. You need to find her ‘key’ words. That is the words that are ‘about’ the story of the script… and are designed to get the attention of the half-listening audience.
In this case, the first word is ‘healthy’.
Play with ways you can deliver just that word to give it slightly different emphasis.
Don’t get ‘hung up’ on it, just become conscious of different ways of doing it.
Decide what works.
The next is the key phrase ‘Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion’.
To draw attention to this key phrase (which is also the product name), all you need do is slow down and say the phrase as if it’s one long word, not four separate words. I sometimes call that ‘putting it on the billboard’.
Imagine the phrase literally sitting up there on a billboard making a statement. It needs to stand out.
For the next phrase, also something that I would call the second scene, you need to explain why buying the product would be a good choice.
Look at the ‘sentence’ and work out how many different thoughts and ideas exist there.
“Start Now! The Active Naturals Oatmeal formula is clinically proven to start working after one day and you’ll see a significant improvement after just two weeks.”
If you said 4, you’d be right.
But if you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, because you think it’s just one long sentence, you need to begin looking at language in scripts not as structured sentences with punctuation, but as text that contains language that that is delivering messages and information that has different meanings.
So let’s break the sentence down.
“Start now”…is a simple ‘call-to-action statement
“The Active Naturals Oatmeal formula”…is information about what’s in the product
“ is clinically proven to start working after one day”… is what it does
“and you’ll see a significant improvement after just two weeks”…is it’s performance promise
Can you see that when you separate out these thoughts and ideas that they all have a different job to do?
Which means that as the voiceover artist, so do you! You need to slightly change your approach with each line.
So this voiceover lesson helps you to know that understanding the peculiarities of script styles and how to work with unusual text, that is far from conversational or natural, is essential to getting work in voiceover.
In almost all scripts you need to sound as though the text is your language, that you own it and you need to sound completely comfortable with the text and its meaning.
Today I’ve given you a commercial radio script as an example. Over the next few blogs I’ll be giving you some techniques when working with other script styles.
Voiceover Lesson complete. 🙂
And happy voiceovering!
Find Your Voice As a Voice Over Actor And Artist With The Voice Over Coach. For over 30 years I've had a successful voiceover career. I work in mainstream voice over for radio and television, narration for the corporate sector, website content and documentaries, as well as characters for animation, IVR, ADR, on-hold and foreign film dubbing.