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One Thing That Won’t Build a Career in VoiceOver

31 March

You’re just starting out and want to build a career in voiceover. Right?

Perhaps you’ve had some training, made a demo and you’re getting some work, but want to know how to build a career in voiceover and get more.

One thing is probably true.  You’ve realized that there’s a lot more to it than you first thought.

But you’re determined.

You’re now on the journey to find out:

  • what you’re naturally good at
  • how many different types of voices can you do?
  • what it is about your disembodied voice that’s interesting?
  • what kind of work could your skills or voice style be suited to or used for
  • how to look at a range of scripts and understand what’s required of you, and
  • how to adjust your voice and personas to fit the script and the message for a great result

But for many people, it’s hearing this that gets them thinking about ways to build a career in voiceover:

“You have such a great voice.  You should be doing something with that.”

Sure, having a great voice will get attention.

But this blog is about things that won’t build a career in voiceover.

So, the first thing you need to know is:

You don’t make it ‘about’ your voice

Before we get to all the reasons for not making it ‘about’ your voice, let’s talk about this.

Why Voice Over in the First Place?

You may have been attracted to pursuing voiceover for many different reasons.

Perhaps:

  • you’re a performer who wants to add voiceover to their repertoire
  • you’re a natural mimic, who can do uncannily accurate impressions of a variety of people
  • you’ve been entertaining friends and family with your character voices for years
  • you now have to use your recorded voice as part of your day job and want to build your skills and techniques
  • your love of audiobooks has you thinking that narration is something you’d love to do, or
  • you’re a voiceover natural with a love of words and language who just loves the idea of voice acting.

So, let me explain why thinking that ‘having a great voice will build a voiceover career’

won’t get you a career in voiceover.

Voiceover is never just about ‘your voice’ reading words.

Voiceover is always, first and foremost, about the material you have to work with. 

No matter what that material is, each read will require an approach that works with the script type and style, and the language and message, or ‘story’ in that script.

Let’s look at what you may be faced with out there in voiceoverland.

Commercials

In both the commercial and non-commercial world, the style will be either conversational, announcer style, energised (or retail) character or character-driven.  Each of these scripts are written in very different ways and use language in different way with consideration to its audience.

*For more information and definitions of these styles, have a look at this blog I wrote on conversational and announcer style  And this one on character voices 

Before you even think about your voice or ‘how’ you will read or perform the script, you need to understand the script and have worked out the meaning, message and intention in the copy. 

In plain speak, you need to find the ‘ad’.  That is, all the words that have to do with what this message is about.

You also need to have some understanding of who your audience is, or the market the advertiser or business is trying to capture and what you need to convince that audience of.

Animation and Games

In animation and games, you’ll be working with an image to create a voice for your character.

Choices are fuelled by the way the character looks, its body shape, the expression on its face and its emotional journey with consideration to story arcs.

Then you need to understand your character’s dynamic in regard to scenes and other characters in the story.

In animation and games, you don’t just read the words, you inhabit the world of the character. 

Don’t forget, you’ll be recording the scenes in the studio, usually with the other cast, or sometimes (if it’s a small role) with the director…and then the animators work with the audio to bring the characters to life..

So, when you are ‘reading’, this is your opportunity to read the language in a way that makes for exciting, expressive animation.

Give the animator something to work with.

Audio Book Narration

In audio book narration, you’ll be working with two different types of book. Non-Fiction or Fiction.

To create a successful fiction read, you need to understand things like:

  • the authors’ intention and tone
  • which narrative the book is written in, first, second, or third person
  • where and when the book is set and how that may affect your voice style
  • the emotional life and personality traits of characters who have dialogue

Non-fiction can often be a little more straightforward. That is, you will be delivering information, instruction, or facts, rather than navigating a whole world of characters and events.

Next, You Do Make It About Your Voice

You now need to create a voice, an attitude or position that works with whatever it is you’re reading.

Once you’ve done the analysis on whatever it is you are handed and in commercial or non-commercial scripts, you’re clear about:

  • what the purpose of the script is and what it’s actually about
  • where the language is that relates to what it’s about
  • who your audience or target market is
  • what it is you want to convince that audience of, and
  • technical considerations such as your position in front of the mic*.

*Microphone technique is something those who are just starting out, are not giving enough attention to.  There are so many things to consider when you’re working with sound.

Volume, pace and energy are the three elements you need to refine, so that your read hits the mark.  This is something that takes experimentation.  Each person’s voice is unique in so many ways.  It takes time to learn how to work with the technical considerations of voiceover.  So, as soon as you can set up a starter in-home studio, with audio editing program and mic, the sooner you can start building your knowledge.

In finalising this blog, I want to say this.

Understanding how to approach any script, commercial, informational, instructional, animation and games, and narration, which are all quite different from each other, is what will determine how well you build a career in voiceover.

The more you understand, the more versatile you become. The more skilled you are, the more opportunities will come your way.

So, remember guys.  No matter how fabulous your voice is, working in voiceover necessitates your studious attention to technique and style.

For this, find a good coach in your area and make sure they’re working voiceover or voiceover production and know their stuff.

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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