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Voice Acting Techniques That Work

30 June

Want to know how successful Voice Actors connect with their script?

They find the meaning in the message!

I sometimes notice when I’m listening to voice performances that the voice actor isn’t making enough of the meaning in the message.

Sure, they’re reading well – their voice is right for the ad.

But often there is a disconnect in the read.

I often put it down to ‘this person hasn’t made a decision about who they’re talking to’.

Finding out and understanding who you’re talking to is essential before you make decisions about performance.

You may find this ‘detective work’ is needed with the more stylised non-naturalistic scripts. 

Often they’ll be television spots – where the language may even be random phrases.

I recently listened to a series of reads for a job where the agency was searching for a voice for their campaign.

They cast wide and asked several people to do a submission – if you’re in the USA, an audition!

The very stylised script had language that was:

  • evocative,
  • somewhat poetic, and
  • was a bit more like word sculpture, not a simple ‘cut-to-the-chase message’.

It can be really challenging to make a connection with language that, largely, doesn’t make any sense!

But what I noticed was that very few of the voice actors understood how to make sense of one simple little thing. 

The concept!

If you’re working at a studio or being produced down the line, the concept may be explained to you. 

Even though the concept idea was mentioned to the voice actors in my scenario, in the reads I heard, no one was expressing this idea through the words.

They were just reading the words and valiantly trying to:

  • give it a personality,
  • tone, and
  • a flavour.

Overlooking that the concept is key in a stylised commercial means that you’re probably going to wonder why you just didn’t think you pulled off the read in the studio.

Sometimes we get a bit bamboozled by the language. 

In voice over you never just look at the words. 

You need to know how to look into them – under them.

You need to be constantly thinking about the core message in the script and use that message to ‘colour your read’.

Sometimes we’re not even conscious when we hear a read that really moves us.

Sometimes we don’t know why we feel connected to the meaning in the script.

But it’s because the voice actor really understands how to convert a concept, into a transfixing performance.

Let’s have a look at an example of an ad that might be difficult for some to convert into a read that is being driven by the concept.

 

Radisson Resorts

“There is a magical place like no other.

Where the snows seem whiter.

The seas seem bluer.

Even the greens seem greener.

And you’ll find this place in some of the most incredible locations on earth.

So if you simply won’t resort to an ordinary vacation.

Call your travel professional.

And resort to Radisson.”

 

Okay, let’s find the concept.   

How about:  ‘At our Resorts, everything is just that much more amazing’.

So let’s look for the words that link to that concept – I’ll underline them.

And when you read the line, just put the love under that word or phrase.

I’ve italicised words or phrases that need to be given some attention.

The style for this would be quite close to mic.

Use the word from the concept ‘amazing’ to position your read – then deliver it as though you know this is truly ‘amazing’.

See if you feel more connected to the language.

Play with the language and endeavour to keep all the words that aren’t underlined as flat as possible.

Remember you need energy even when you’re using low volume – and of course we need to believe that you do find this amazing.

 

Radisson Resorts

“There is a magical place like no other.

Where the snows seem whiter.

The seas seem bluer.

Even the greens seem greener.

And you’ll find this place, in some of the most incredible locations on earth.

So if you simply won’t resort to an ordinary vacation.

Call your travel professional.

And resort to Radisson.”

 

Have fun voiceoverers!

 

 

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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3 Responses to “Voice Acting Techniques That Work”

  1. Nicola Redman September 3, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

    Great read, and nice example. It’s often the corporate scripts that take most time to find the message, but there is always something to find, otherwise why would the client need it saying?
    http://www.nicolareman.com

  2. Jane Knight August 31, 2016 at 4:03 pm #

    Your post is priceless. Thanks for breaking down the read. And I literally SMH at your point about concept! You are right! Sometimes you just can’t figure out who you’re talking to. so, yes, concept! I have worked this read before, fumbly, I might add and never could connect with it. Until now. And the tip to lean in was also spot on. It makes it so much more intimate and *amazing*
    Thanks for posting this!

    • Abbe Holmes August 31, 2016 at 4:15 pm #

      Hi Jane

      Thanks so much for letting me know that my ‘blog coaching’ is of value to you. Happy voiceovering!

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