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Creating Natural Voice Over Reads

06 April

Want to know how to make your voice over reads sound more natural?  

Let me give you a great technique that I use when I’m voicing a script that requires a very friendly, natural read…a bit like you’re making it all up as you go along.

Voice Over scripts come in a variety of different forms.  There’s:

  • Announcer style, full of information and details.
  • Naturalistic style, just like a conversation with a friend.
  • Retail and Promo, energized, full of information and usually pretty fast.
  • Character, not necessarily a ‘funny’ voice, often just you in someone else’s shoes, and
  • Character Driven, these are the ads that don’t even mention the product…the announcer tag does that usually at the end.

They all aim to deliver the message to a specific market (group or person) in a way that convinces them to take action.  

And they all do it using language in very different ways and in different structures.

One of those styles though, naturalistic, needs you to sound like those words are your own.  

I’m often sent demos from budding voice actors who’ve made the demo, sent it out and received no work.  When I listen to their demos, their reads sound ‘like they’re just reading words’.  No wonder no work comes from it.  You must be able to connect with the language and sound natural.

So I want to talk about this style and how to create reads that audiences believe!

When I began coaching a dozen years ago, I really had no idea that there were specific differences, or even what those specific differences were.

It seemed that I was just able to do voice over naturally and automatically.

In order to teach what I knew, I needed to analyse what I was doing. 

I revisited work I’d done, listened to it and asked this question, “Why have I made that choice?” 

It was fascinating research and I discovered all manner of wonderful tricks and techniques that I was using just because it felt right!

Interestingly, this analysis helped me to become a more expert voice actor and my work increased. 

That’s the most wonderful aspect of teaching what you do – you just learn more about it!

When I coach voice over actors, I give them techniques that:

  • help sort through the words on the page,
  • look for the language that reveals what the message is, and
  • teach them how to deliver the copy with conviction and meaning.

After all, the best way to convince someone that you know what you’re talking about is to ‘sound’ like you know what you’re talking about.

I also give voice actors techniques for working out how to find where the “power words” are.

Knowing where these key words or phrases are and how to give them emphasis, will make the advertiser and the producer happy, and at the same time sound completely natural – just like these are your words.

This can be tricky to do with some scripts, where the language is formal and rather clunky – the enemy of sounding natural!

In this blog, I want to share with you a technique that you can apply to naturalistic style scripts, that will help them sound natural.

Here’s What You Do

Put someone else in the room with you!  

This is how you do it.

If you are given a script and the producer wants you to sound like you’re just talking with a friend, a useful thing to do, is to find places in the script where your friend would naturally respond.

Then improvise what they would say, that works with the next line of copy.

Here’s a short, naturalistic style script.  Read it through and then I’ll show you what I mean!

“I have a confession to make. I really don’t like gardening

The mowing. The mulching. The weeding. The pruning…

the constant battle between me and mother nature.

So, I’ve given up. Quit. Resigned.

Turned it over to the pro’s:

Jim’s Mowing.

I say: “mulch”. They mulch. I say: “mow” – they say “how high?”

Now I love gardening

I could sit and watch it all day long.”

 

Now let’s have a look at some places where you can put a response from your friend, which you, in turn, respond to, that will help you sound more natural.

 

“I have a confession to make. 

            Friend:  What’s that?

I really don’t like gardening

            Friend:  Why not?

The mowing. The mulching. The weeding. The pruning…

the constant battle between me and mother nature.

So, I’ve given up. Quit. Resigned.

            Friend:  What about the garden?

Turned it over to the pro’s:

            Friend:  Who’s that?

Jim’s Mowing.

            Friend:  Are they good?

I say: “mulch”. They mulch. I say: “mow” – they say “how high?”

            Friend:  Sounds good to me!

Now I love gardening

I could sit and watch it all day long.

 

Doing this allows you to focus on talking with that one person.

Done well, it creates a read that’s more immediate and connected and, if you’ve done it well enough, the next booking is sure to follow!

Happy voiceovering!

 

Abbe Holmes About Abbe Holmes
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.

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6 Responses to “Creating Natural Voice Over Reads”

  1. Rob Marley April 7, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    That’s an interesting suggestion. Though I dont think I could bring another person into the booth with me. I’ll just use my old imaginary friend from childhood. Thanks!

    • abbe-holmes April 7, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

      Hi Rob…yep that’s the one you do bring in, the imaginery. Not a real person. Did I not make that clear enough? Duh to me!

  2. John Zamorano April 7, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

    Wow, a true eye opener! I really didn’t think about interjecting questions from an imaginary friend like that, but it makes perfect sense. Thank you Abbe!

    • abbe-holmes April 8, 2014 at 8:31 am #

      My pleasure John.
      It’s amazing how your read suddenly becomes more connected when you use this method

  3. Jeremy April 8, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    Abbe, I’ve worked with you for a frightening number of years and never been disappointed. There are times I’ve left a recording session thinking “Did I really write that, that well?” Short answer: no. It’s you and a number of other magicians who have found life in my words that I didn’t realise was in there.

    And this not-so-little technique is one way.

    I wish I had done your course when I was starting out – it would have made me a better writer.

    Thanks again,

    J.

    • abbe-holmes April 8, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

      Dearest Jeremy
      Wow, thank you for such generosity. I always loved working with your words. Working with copywriters of your ilk (and you are pretty fabulous) gave me all the material I needed to get a good start and keep at it.
      Muchos Smoochos to you

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