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Voice Over Tricks of the Trade: Part 1

19 August

Love Voice Over and want to know two tricks of the trade?

If you focus on developing script know how and believability, your voice over career will really take off!

Working in voice over has to come high on the list of ‘best jobs in the world’.

In my long career, I’ve often pinched myself at how:

  • much fun I have,
  • many wonderful people I get to work with, and
  • much I love the creative process of working with words across all mediums.

One of the best aspects of the best job in the world is, that I never know from one week to the next what I’ll be doing.

The nature of voice over is excitingly spontaneous. You get booked to do a job, and whether you’re working from your own studio or travelling to one, you more than likely have never seen the script before.

You may not have even heard of the product before, worked with the producer or engineer before, and in some cases, even have little to no idea what you’re talking about. I mean, how many of us understand the in’s and out’s of servicing a steam engine, but this is typical of the kind of work voice actors do!

Knowing what’s required of you for each job, is crucial to you developing and establishing a name as a solid voice over professional.

No matter what kind of script or copy you’re given, you need to know that your job is to look at the language in the script and work out what it’s doing there.

When you look at the script you need to find out:

  • what the message is,
  • who’s meant to hear it, and
  • where the words are that are only about that message.

Once you’ve had a good look at the language and understood its purpose, you need to know how to approach the script.  

This is where believability comes into it.

As I’ve said over and over in my blogs, there are so many different kinds of scripts.

There’s:

  • straight announcer style – full of information with you delivering it as though you’re speaking on behalf of the company,
  • conversational – like you’re talking to a friend,
  • retail /energised – full of information that is often price and product,
  • character – the character usually identifies itself in the first sentence, and
  • character driven – not an ad in itself, but a story told by your character that relates to the product being sold.

To be a good voice actor, you need to analyse the structure of the script so you can work out how to approach it.

But no matter what style the script is – we still need to believe what you’re telling us.

That can be done by looking into the script and finding what emotion, feeling or tone, you can bring to it. 

Ask yourself:

  • what ways can you use the language in the script to be evocative, and
  • how can you give those words a life beyond just the words on the page?

A good way to perfect this skill is to search for great orators. 

Listen to them (rather than watching them) so you can really get a sense of why it is we find them so engaging. 

As you listen, consider why we implicitly believe what they say – this is an art!

There’s another thing I often say about voice over, and that is, ‘it’s not about your voice.

Sure, if you have great pipes, a quirky or delicious voice or you’re just a natural communicator who gets comment on your voice all the time, then that’s great.

But it’s not this ability alone that makes a great voice actor.

When you first look at a script identify things in this order:

  • product or brand,
  • key words – that are about the product or brand,
  • the central reason for the ad – it will be in the script and may just be a short line or a few words,
  • the one single person you’re talking to,
  • what it is you want them to do, and
  • what attitude, feeling or mood you need to create, to best represent the ideas in the script.

You need to know how to be the messenger. To deliver that message through the words, to the audience, in a way that not only gets them to listen to you, but has them believing you.

Believability is one of the most underestimated elements in being successful at voice over – but one of the most important.

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.

One Response to “Voice Over Tricks of the Trade: Part 1”

  1. Howard Ellison August 20, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

    That’s a generous sharing of insight, Abbe, thankyou. It’s equally valuable, I would say, to the beginner or the veteran – or those like myself who may be approaching half way and need this reminder to THINK before we speak. After all, most of us are quite spontaneous by nature and when a script is particularly inviting, well, we leap to the mic don’t we! Preparation pays.

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