Doing voice overs, for many outsiders looking in, may seem like a quick and simple task and while it’s definitely not brain surgery, it’s certainly much more than just getting on a mic and talking. In my mind, the voice talent of any organization almost functions as the “face of the company” and let’s face it, sometimes IVR voices can be a drag to listen to.
My background as a professional opera singer has without a doubt helped me to understand and implement the intricacies and nuances that go into producing professional voice overs. Below are a few tips and tricks that I recommend to anyone starting out in the voice talent world.
The Three C’s: Clarity, Consistency & Confidence
With any voice over no matter who your audience is – clarity is key! It’s imperative that every word is apparent to the listener; Really practice the pronunciation and enunciation of each word. It might feel over the top at first, but I promise it will come across just right on the recording.
Second is consistency. Consistency is essential in any life endeavor. Be mindful of the pace at which you’re speaking, the tone in which you’re using and from voice over to voice over, be consistent.
Third is confidence; Own what you’re saying! Go for it 110% even if you feel a little awkward or unsure. It’s subtle, but people can hear the difference. Truly resonating with the script makes your voice more believable and convincing to listeners.
Take Care Of Your Body
Using your voice as a professional instrument is hard work. I can’t stress enough how important it is to take care of not only your voice, but your whole being. Getting enough sleep, eating right, staying hydrated and knowing when to relax your voice is extremely important.
Elevate Your Speech
While in your day to day life, your normal speaking voice is fine, but it doesn’t quite translate effectively to voice over and because of that, you’ll have to ramp things up a bit. I call it finding the ‘happy place’- the balance between natural speech and enunciation.
Second, I find it beneficial for me to sit my voice in a slightly higher tessitura when recording so I’m not sitting on my vocal fry and my voice doesn’t fatigue nearly as quick. Again it’s about finding that happy place.
Third, in everyday speech, our inflection is somewhat lackluster; We tend to end our sentences in downward cadences and for voice overs that just won’t do. I like to think of ending most sentences on a ‘Half Cadence’ as opposed to a ‘Perfect Authentic Cadence.’ Sorry, it’s the singer in me!
Know Your Audience
Who are you speaking to? Is it a Medical Office or is it a Las Vegas Touring Company? Your audience will help determine what kind of delivery is appropriate, whether you need to use more excitement or a more professional tone.
I think of voice talent as an extension of performing and preparation is key in any performance. As someone who has been on stage for most of their life the one thing that always combatted my nerves was knowing that I was prepared. I did all the studying and practicing I could to perfect my performances. It’s crucial to take the time to read through the script and practice it out loud to identify any tricky words or phrases.
Practicing these various speech traits in an elevated fashion may feel silly and uncomfortable at first, but I promise it will translate into a killer voice over! Most importantly, remember to HAVE FUN!