The key for a great voice over is to naturally convey a specific message. After all, anyone can look at something and read it out loud, but not everyone is able to do so in such a way that it sounds like they’re just talking. So, when you come across an ad that says, “voice actor needed”, here are some things to keep in mind to help you add meaning and life to your voice overs.
As we’ve already stated, anyone can read a script- but when you’re doing a voice over, you need to speak naturally, as if you’re having a conversation. Here are some tips:
1. Sound conversational
You must sound as if you are having a natural conversation with someone- not like you’re reading.
2. Speak clearly
You must always pay attention to the way that your voice sounds. You want to make sure you’re reading loud enough so that you don’t sound like your mumbling and/or stumbling over the words.
Utilize Verbal Cues to Convey Your Message
There are some verbal cues that you can use when you’re talking to convey your message- you should never sound monotone when you’re doing a voice over. Again, it should be as if you are having a natural conversation.
1. Focus on your inflection and your pitch
Pitch refers to the lowness and the highness of your voice- the variations in your pitch is known as inflection. This is what keeps your audience engaged. Think about it: how do you feel when you’re listening to a monotone speaker? It’s pretty difficult to stay focused, right?
If it helps, you can think of inflection as your speech melody- you can use it to emphasize certain words in your speech, always remembering that what you emphasize has an effect on the audience’s interpretation of what you are saying.
2. Pay attention to your pace
When you are speaking, you must be consciously aware of the speed at which you are speaking. When you are recording yourself, make some mental notes about how fast you feel like you’re speaking. Then, listen carefully as you play it back. Were you right about your pace?
Keep in mind that when you’re auditioning for a voice over gig, you may need to pace your voice differently. For example, you would use a much slower and relaxing pace when doing a commercial for a massage spa than you would for a hip hop dance commercial.
3. Pay attention to your volume
You must also make sure that you’re speaking loud enough that you can be heard clearly- but not so loud that it seems like you’re yelling. Your voice over clients don’t want you to yell at them. Plus, you must be able to have some control over your volume- you will find that some voice over gigs do require you to be a bit louder than others.
4. Consider your fluency and rhythm
Fluency and rhythm are words that describe how choppy/smooth your voice is. When you’re performing a voice over, you want it to sound fluid, so make sure you’re practicing having some control of your pauses. You can take full advantage of any natural stopping points in the script- that is, periods and commas, to take a breath and read a bit ahead.
5. Learn to clearly dictate and articulate
Pay attention to whether or not you typically have an accent when you are speaking. If you do have an accent, you must also have an understanding of “proper” pronunciation as well.
Of course, this does not mean that your accent is a bad thing- many times, a voice such as yours is an asset. However, it’s also very important that you can use “standard” English when you are asked to. You might want to practice reading different things out loud so that you learn to avoid mumbling and stumbling over words.
6. Learn to convey emotion
Depending upon the voice over job you’re auditioning for, you may need to sound informative, excited, or sad. When you’re practicing the script, be sure to deliver it with the proper energy and emotional tone.
Keep in mind when you read the ad that says, “voice actor needed,” there is no “perfect” type of voice that everyone wants. You must learn to love your own voice so that you can learn how to market yourself the next time you go on an audition.