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Essential VoiceOver Lessons 1

21 November

Simple ideas for better VoiceOver Acting ‘Breath’

Understanding how to give words ‘on’ the page, meaning ‘off’ the page is a key voiceover skill.

We’re required at every turn to take someone else’s words and language and convert them into something that resonates with the intended audience.

It can be something that connects that audience to an idea, a concept, or way of thinking. It can be a product, a branding message, a promo, a set of instructions or a story that changes perceptions.

Working in voiceover always involves some kind of ‘connected delivery’ and that will mean something different for almost every script you’re given.

I recently read a blog published by TimeToShinePodcast.com.au  http://www.timetoshinepodcast.com/6-great-quotes-power-voice/

It’s written to inspire those who are involved in public speaking but some of the quotes contained in this blog translate perfectly to the world of voiceover.

In the next few blogs, I want to share some of them with you and place a voiceover perspective on these valuable little capsules of cleverness.

The first quote I want to talk about is obvious, but let’s look into it a little deeper.

‘Breath and the world breathes with you’.

It’s anonymous and who knows how long we’ve been saying it, but when you look into the words and their meaning, breathing is not only an essential ingredient for life itself, how we breathe and use breath is essential in voiceover.

Firstly, our breath centres us.

Make it a point of focus and it will allow you to connect with your ‘feelings’ and therefore inform your ‘attitude’

In voiceover, some script styles, usually those that are full of information or are ‘branding ads’ or ads selling a product are written to have all the breaths removed. Listen to those commercials on air and even material on the non-broadcast sector. You won’t hear any breaths.

Of course during the recording process, you will have taken a breath, but they’ll have been removed in the editing process. Not needed!

I call this ‘technical’ breathing.

To get through scripts like these, you do need to work out where you’ll ‘need’ to breath, in order to get through the next section of copy.

In this way, you need to be mindful, that when the breath is removed, the read needs to sound as though you haven’t taken a breath. This kind of seemless performance can take time to perfect, but in any case, when you first look at the script, once you’ve worked out what you’re saying and to whom, always mark the places that you will need to take in air.

***And just a note on that.

You can literally stop, pause, take in air, and them resume.

Whether you’re editing at home or are working in a studio, the editing is simpler, if you do this in a relaxed way.

However, if you’re handed a script that requires you to tell a story that connects to how you feel about something, you’ll need to use your breathing to help tell your story. These breaths won’t be removed.

Here’s a short example of a script, for a Caravan Retailer, that needs you to use breathing to reveal attitudes or opinions.

“When it comes to holidays, you could…stay in a tent…and hope the weather holds…stay in a hotel…and hope the bill isn’t astronomical…stay in your holiday home, in the same location again and again and again…or stay in a caravan…that’s portable, affordable and fun…”

This script style is conversational. You need the audience to believe you’re just making it up as you go along.

Just as we do in life, when we’re telling a story, each thought, piece of information or idea, seems to just fall out of our mouth.

Here’s the technique

Use the caravan script above.  Every time you see the three dots … use that as a pause to take a breath. Not just an inhale of air, a breath that signifies either that;

  • you’re thinking about what to say next, or
  • you have an opinion about what you just said, or are about to say

Record yourself doing it and listen back to it critically.

Make sure that the breaths have not become a focus. They need to become a seemless ingredient in helping the message delivery sound completely natural.

The other note I want to give you about breath is this.

When we’re nervous or anxious, our breathing becomes more shallow.

It can especially happen in a voiceover session with a new client or in new surroundings.

Whenever that happens, just tune into what’s happening with your breathing and gently and slowly connect to it.

If you practice yoga or meditation, this will come to you fairly naturally.

If you find you’re a person who’s not very conscious of your breathing and you want to be successful in voiceover, you’ll need to make it part of your voiceover training.

Next time, I’m going to be talking about using ‘emotion’ in voiceover. It’s easier than you think, once you know how to apply it.

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And 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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