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Voice Over Mistakes

29 September

Could your Voice Over Mistakes be holding back your career?

Booking a job is difficult enough these days, without making voice over mistakes that shoot your attempts down in flames.

If you’re working in voice over, or want to, there are always things you can do, that will make enough of a subtle difference to have your work stand out.

And let’s face it, that’s the key to booking regular work!

You don’t need a degree to be successful in voice over – you just need to be able to do it.

But everyone will get there in a different way.

We all bring different skills, voice styles and personalities to our work. And we’ve all got different abilities to:

  • change our voice,
  • jump into someone else’s shoes and tell a story from that perspective, or
  • being able to deliver information as though we’re the expert.

Today I want to talk about some things I hear on demos, that I would call ‘voice over mistakes’.

They’re voice over mistakes, because they won’t actually get you a job. 

The reason can be anything from:

  • they’re not good examples of how you’d be cast, to
  • your performance of the work says that you don’t know enough about what you’re doing

Before you launch a career, or send a demo (or a link to one) to anybody, you must have all your voice marketing ducks in a row.

The most important thing? Understand your voice style (or styles) and capabilities!

I know that we all listen to voices out there and think, “I’d like to be doing that”. And if your voice style suits it, then why not!

But it’s a mistake to ever try and do anything that’s not in your range.

Let’s talk about how to avoid some of these mistakes and make sure you make the right impression, first time, every time.

 

Mistake 1: Different Voice Styles

Yes it’s true that being versatile is a great way to build your career, but versatile in which way?

When you’re showcasing your different voice styles, each one of them needs to be equal to, or better than anything else you hear on air.

If you then decide that you definitely fit that voice style or genre, you need to research and make a study of the kind of work that voice style is used for.

Then you need to create your own work:

  • ‘borrow’ the copy from a broadcast commercial or a narration and slightly rework it, or
  • find a coach who can help you decide which kind of script to use.

Mistake 2: Different Personalities

Not every voice actor is wildly versatile, and you don’t have to be to get work.

But it helps to showcase your talents by varying your voice samples in subtle ways. 

Creating variation in a voice demo or samples on your website can be achieved by changing the way you approach the script. 

Here are 3 ways to make sure your demos always make you sound as though you’re versatile:

  1. Vary your energy. Are your chilled and relaxed, or bursting with good news and excitement? Does this message warrant a serious tone, or one of hope and encouragement?  Are you being seductive, manipulative, or are you just delivering the work, in the guise of a trusted friend?
  2. Vary your pace. Each script you look at will have special requirements. All will have been written to time – they’ve created a script with a word count that will fit into an allotted time. So, most scripts will require a different pace. Know which kind of read is slower, more thoughtful, which has the energy and drive and anything in between. But always remember that pace should always vary within the read. And don’t forget, there’ll be parts of the script that are less important, so you can move through those sentences or phrases a little quicker than you would with key message words or phrases.
  3. Vary your emotional Perspective. Having an opinion, a ‘take’ on what you’re reading can really help to lift your performance. But emotion in scripts is not simple. To make it work best, you need to always ask yourself, “Who is this message or information for and what do I want them to feel or think?”

 

Mistake 3: Microphone Technique

Practice your positioning in front of the mic. For instance, being right on the mic and using very little voice, can actually create a very big sound.

Be aware of plosives – that is noises on ‘p’s’ and ‘b’s’. 

Watch for harsh vowel sounds at the beginning of a word that get caught in your throat and practice softening those vowels.

 

Mistake 4: Changing Your Voice To Tell The StoryCharacter Work

This is where I hear most voice over mistakes. 

Someone who wants to do character work, either in games or animation,  includes a whole lot of examples of voices that:

  • don’t appeal,
  • have no personality,
  • no emotional arc, or
  • tell no particular story.

If you’re using character voices in an audio demo, the listener must be able to visualise the character. 

If you do this successfully, they’ll sit up and take notice, but beware thinking that your raft of funny, cute or quirky voices sampled on a demo is enough.

It’s not!

You must do some work on preparing this material to best showcase your talents.

Once again, if in doubt, find a coach who can help you.

Only ever work with a coach who is an industry professional, either working as a voice actor themselves or producing material.

 

Mistake 5: Delivery of Information

Most of the voice over work I do is delivery of information.

I always believe that no matter what I’m saying, it’s still a story – that I’m speaking to one person, or a small group of people to tell that story.

But there are some very common, very off-putting mistakes I hear people make when they’re reading script like this.

  1. They read too fast – this means that the listener doesn’t get a chance to take in the information and process it.
  2. They go from one piece of information to the next – too fast!

To make any read hit the mark, you must go through the process of sorting out the language.

Here’s a link to a recent blog I wrote that will give you some specific techniques for doing just that.

Don’t forget, your job as a voice actor is to convince someone to do something on behalf of the advertiser.

If you’re working in animation or games, it’s to create a ‘believable’ character, with believable motives and emotional states.

The better you are at this, the more work you’ll book.

So, make sure you’re not making these 5 simple voice over mistakes with the samples or material you send out or link to.

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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