Tricks of the Voice Over Trade
How to teach an old dog new tricks!
You may have been in voice over for years and have successfully carved out a niche.
You could be in “start-up mode” wondering where you’ll fit in.
Or you might be booking voice over work and wondering how to add more.
It doesn’t matter where you are in your voice over career, the way you’re going about building your voice over career and performing your work could always do with some “new tricks”!
Let’s begin with why you need to learn new tricks!
Voice over is a many and varied thing.
Almost every script you come across will require you to be slightly different in your approach.
- your energy,
- your rhythms and timing,
- your pace, and
- your emotion or attitude.
However, often we get cast into a certain area – type casting is common!
It’s done because your voice says certain things like you’re a:
- warm middle-aged mum,
- dad who can fix everything,
- merchant banker with business savvy, or
- young entrepreneur with the energy to take on the world.
Type casting isn’t bad. It’s good! Because it means that you have a bankable voice for that type of script.
But over time, we can get into a groove, making the same decisions, for the same reason, over and over…and we only ever get the same kind of work.
Now that can be great if it’s regular and it’s paying, but what if suddenly the style you’ve been using goes out of favour and opportunities dry up?
Where does that leave you?
Wondering whether you said something to offend?
Questioning your ability?
This is why you need to make sure that in your voice over career, you’re always learning new tricks.
What Voice Over Tricks?
How about going against the type that everyone has cast you as, and having a shot at some different ways of approaching things.
If you’re always the voice of the medical reads, because you’re great at all those big words and delivering complex information, you might take a shot at a script that’s written in a conversational style.
To break out of this you’re going to need a set of visual skills. Here’s the trick!
I use visuals a lot when I’m doing anything conversational.
In order to make something sound like I’m just making it up (as we do in conversation) I always need to put myself in the environment or situation and imagine myself actually talking to someone.
To do that, I pause between each different thought, or idea.
Sometimes that’s a sentence, but often there may be two, three or more thoughts or ideas in one sentence.
Find them, break them up and take your time moving from one to the other.
Conversely, if you’re booked because you sound like the “dad voice” and you want to do more Industrial, Corporate or Business reads, you need to now practice delivering information, not conversation.
The trick for delivering information is to make sure each piece of information, when delivered, is understood by the listener.
Remember, for information to go in, the listener needs to hear it.
If you read too fast, between the different pieces of information, the listener’s brain just can’t absorb it.
Never be afraid of a pause! A pause may only be two beats, which is nothing.
Do this before you move on, ‘differently’, to the next piece of information.
These simple tricks will produce tracks that show your versatility.
I mean look at my Poodle, Inky, at the mic. Now that’s versatility!
Why Voice Over Tricks Are Important
To have a career in voice over, it helps to be able to turn your skills to whatever the script is asking of you.
While it’s true that a lot of scripts are written to a kind of template, they also each have a different story to tell.
They each need to convince the listener of something specific and a well-written script will use great language to help you do that.
The more samples you have of you delivering interesting language in different ways, to tell different stories, the more work you’ll get!
How Can You Learn New Voice Over Tricks?
You can find a great voice over coach – one who’s actually either working as a voice over actor in the industry or producing voice over scripts professionally.
A coach can help you understand key techniques and methods for making your scripts work.
I’ve always believed that learning how to be a voice over artist can be helped by listening to others and working out how and why they’ve done what they have.
Listen out for things like why:
- that person paused before that word or phrase.
- they moved more slowly through that phrase, and
- that word is emphasised.
To understand how the flesh is added to a voice over, you first need to know how the ‘bones are constructed’.
You need to know how to look at any script and find the words that tell the story.
I love writing blogs that help you analyse scripts and most of my coaching is around this all-important part of voiceover technique.
If you haven’t before, browse around and see what blogs I have in there that may have some techniques you could use.
Once you can look at words on the script and get a grip on their purpose, their meaning and the affect they need to have on who’s listening, you’ll be well on your way to creating a career full of new tricks.
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.