How To Become a Voice Actor 2

Studio Etiquette!

Let’s talk about expectations in the studio

It’s always difficult for those who want to know how to become a voice actor to get the right kind of information about the process.  Let me make it easy for you to feel more comfortable in the studio.

First up, you’ve never seen the script before, so you’re never expected to know all the answers.  Actually, you’re not expected to know any of the answers…just yet!

Often you’ve been cast because of a track on your demo that resonated with them or you have been suggested by the studio casting person or your agent because you have the voice style that they’re looking for.

When you first get the script, always ask what they’re looking for style-wise.  They may even mention a track on the demo that they liked.

You’ll get time to read the script through to yourself before you get into the studio.  This is the time to ask any questions, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t once you get into the studio.

Make sure you understand all the language in the script.  If there’s a word that’s unfamiliar to you don’t feel embarrassed to ask for its meaning.  Your producer or engineer will also explain the concept, if it’s not obvious, so ask any questions you need to, so that you’re clear about what’s going on.

Once you are in there, you must start reading the words aloud.  You need to start playing with the sound of the words and phrases, once you’ve sorted out what the key words and phrases are.

I get asked questions all the time about the process in the studio, questions like;

  • How many takes do you get?

Answer:  As many as is needed to get a result everyone’s happy with

  • Do you ever get the script before you go to the studio?

Answer:  Never!  So, you’ll need to get used to the fact that voice over is spontaneous

  •  What happens if you keep making mistakes?

Answer:   Don’t let it unravel you.  Just find your way around the script

But the real answer to all these questions is simple really.

Working in the studio is a collaborative process!

It’s about working together, with the producer and/or the engineer to understand what the script is all about and what choices you need to make to get a great result.

These are the priorities when looking at a script for the first time

  • What’s the name of the product?
  • Who are you talking to?
  • What’s the advertiser’s message?
  • What key words and phrases contain the message?
  • What mood or feeling will best convey these messages?
  • Your voice style

Notice that your voice is listed last in the list of priorities?  That’s right!  That’s because voice over isn’t really about your voice…well okay, it’s somewhat about your voice, but first up, it’s about the advertiser’s message…and the market it’s aimed at.

If you do want to become a voice actor, you need to know that your job is to decipher the message and use the language in the script to convince the listener to do what the advertiser wants them to do.  In fact, you’re the conduit for the advertiser’s message.

Here are some don’ts

  • Don’t ever apologize

It’s quite normal to trip and stumble over words and phrases when you’re first reading the script.  It’s really no big deal.  So, don’t worry about not being perfect.

You need to spend time ‘working out’ how to perform the script. If you trip and stumble, try going slower through that word or phrase…but never, ever, say ‘sorry’.  It’s annoying!

  •  Don’t ever whinge and complain…about anything!

Especially don’t complain about or criticize the writing in the script.  The writer might also be the producer.   Some scripts are poorly written.  If you’re working in a radio station you might even be faced with a script the client wrote.  You just have to learn to work with what you have.

Some scripts will have grammar that’s incorrect.  The truth is, sometimes it’s not correct but sounds right when it’s spoken.  Live with it and find a way to make it work.

If it’s wrong, they’ll be able to hear without you drawing attention to it.  If it is glaringly wrong to your ear and no one picks it up, it’s okay to question it

***If you are ideologically opposed to stuff, you need to send a list of what that is to studios.

  • Never make excuses.

We don’t care that you slept badly or the traffic was bad or someone stressed you out.  Get over what ails you and never make excuses.  It’s not that we don’t care.  We are just as caring as the next person.  But if you focus on your troubles, it’ll effect you level of focus on the job.  Relax.  Breath deeply before you go in, if it’s been a anxious morning.  Make it only about the job!

  •  Don’t stress and spoil the moment

It’s bound to be a little stressful when you’re first out there working.

Once again, breathe and listen to what’s being said (direction) and to what you’re saying (performance).

If you feel it’s taking too long and you’re worrying about it, then stop worrying about it!

It will take as long as it takes.  

The fact is, as soon as you start to get anxious, you won’t be able to hear either yourself working or the direction you’re being given.


Some do’s

  •  Enter the room feeling positive and certain.

You are there to work collaboratively and really have fun doing it.

  •  When you’re in the studio, claim the space.

It’s yours.  The more comfortable you are in the space, the more comfortable they’ll be with you.

  •  Make bold choices.  Be brave.

They want you to add life and personality to the script.  If you do something and it doesn’t work…no big deal…just try something else

Last of all, don’t forget.  It’s a collaboration.

No one really knows what it’s going to sound like until you’ve given it the personality, meaning and life it needs.

Producers and engineers want you to be successful.  They will champion you.  Allow them to be the experts they are and always involve them in your process. “How about we try it like this…do you think it would sound good if…”   Things like that.

As always, happy voice-overing!

And stay tuned for my new webinar series on how to become a voice actor