Top 10 Voice Over Techniques for Professional Voice Actors
In this blog, we're going to talk about 10 techniques that voice overs or voice actors can use to master their reads, create unique performances and nail those auditions.
Now as a voice over we all know that it's a competitive world, so how do you stand out? How do you master the techniques that allow you to swing big? Well, I would argue that one of the most important things is to embrace your unique voice and personality, and lend a lot of this to your work; after all, there is no one like you!
But once you've done that, there are certain techniques that can help you be the best of the best, so let's get started.
1. Brighten The Voice
Brightening the voice brings a clarity and tone to your sound that is essential when voicing, and how do you do it? Smile! That's right, having a soft smile will widen the lips, and make space in the back of the mouth for a more bright, resonant sound. Now this may not be appropriate for every read, but remember it's not a smile for happiness, it's a technique to create a better sound, so give it a try on even the more serious reads. Trust me, it makes a difference.
2. Breathe Deep
It can be easy to let things run away with us, and sometimes when we are voicing we slip back into the patterns of our natural speech, and that can mean short breaths that catch in our chest and can create tension. So, relax the belly, take a deep breath in, and continue. When breathing during voicing its important to not constrict, so keep things relaxed, and let your breath fall in deep. This way you'll also avoid overly loud breath noises.
3. Practise Practise Practise
Now this one is pretty self explanatory, but it's amazing how people think they can just be a voice over simply because they have a voice. Speaking to people, and talking into a microphone are very different things indeed. And with that, comes all the nuances of different styles of work, from corporate medical to high-energy commercial. So in order to deal with all of this, we need to practise, and then practise, and then, yep you guessed it practise some more.
4. Engage With The Copy
Engaging with the copy probably requires a whole blog post all in itself, but there are a few things you can do to help yourself along the way. Make sure you are talking to someone specific, always, whether it's someone in your close friends, or an old acquaintance, picture them and talk to them. Understand who your audience is and what effect the voiceover is trying to have on them, this will help you to navigate the words that need to be lifted from the page. And of course, don't be afraid to add your own moments to the copy. Just because there isn't a comma in a certain place, doesn't mean you can't add a little pause.
5. Take Off Your Cans
Taking off your headphones can really change your reads. Sometimes we get so caught up in our skills of self directing, that we spend the entire time listening to ourselves as we perform, and that in effect can ruin some of the more nuanced aspects of our reads. So take your headphones off, perform, and then listen back objectively afterwards.
6. Go Big and Go Small
Sometimes when deciphering a job or audition that doesn't quite have clear direction, we might get stuck in the idea of where to pitch things or how much energy to put behind the read. One thing I like to do is go extreme, try the script with a huge amount of energy and punch, and then draw it all back, try an intimate and sincere read. Practising these extremes can help to fine tune your instrument to knowing where to pitch something.
7. Offer Up Alternate Reads
Speaking of going big and going small, never be afraid to offer up an alternate style or read. This is also massively helpful in the practising stage of things. When submitting a requested demo to a client, why not give them an alternate version for them to consider. Same goes for your auditions, as long as it is different enough to showcase versatility and skill, I've often found that clients who aren't certain about the style direction they want to go towards are very appreciative of this.
8. Master The Conversational Read
This one again deserves an entire blog post, but mastering the conversational read is a huge part of today's voice over world. Maintaining your voice over technique while helping things to sound conversational can be complicated if you overthink it, but try things like laughing underneath moments of lightheartedness (when you continue talking but can hear a laugh in your voice) adding more relaxed intonation, thinking about the thoughts behind the words not the words themselves; and remember, don't get loud.
9. Warm Up Physically
A lot of voice actors are in the habit of warming up their voices, but remember to also warm up the body, stretch before you read, especially your shoulders and neck; which we can carry a lot of tension in while we sit at our desks, hunched over, or stand voicing for long periods. Warming up physically can help to energise the voice, and make you sound more engaged.
10. Mark Up Your Scripts
And last, but definitely not least, mark up your scripts. If you don't have a system for marking up your scripts, then don't worry, you can make one up for yourself. But going through and making notes about breaths, pauses and lifting certain words can help to free you up while you record. You no longer have to think about those things, you just have to follow the copy and engage.
So those are my top ten techniques for professional voice actors, have any more? Feel free to share them!
Happy voicing everyone