Making it in VO – Voiceover Training
Why Voiceover training is Essential
You wouldn’t even be reading this, if you weren’t either:
- Seriously thinking about voiceover and whether it’s for you
- Seriously researching the industry to discover what’s out there and how to get it.
- Seriously working on skills and creating your unique voiceover personas,
- Seriously pursuing voiceover and having some success,
I will say this…seriously!
Voiceover is not for the faint-hearted.
Even if you have heaps of talent and voiceover skill, unless you’re prepared to commit to the journey and do all it takes to become a voiceover professional, then don’t even start out.
Working in voiceover should never be thought of as a quick fix to a great income.
Sure, there’s money to me made, but work happens in a much more ‘random’ way than it did years ago and voiceover can rarely be relied upon to be your sole income.
The truth is, the voiceover landscape is full of people who all want the work as much as you do. And they’re good. So you need to prepare yourself well.
You need to get skilled up and learn as much as you can about the industry, its players and to the work that gets done.
You also need to have a real love of, and a connection with, words and language. And last of all, before you even make a voice demo, you need to know what you have, that someone may want.
Then you need to find them.
Getting traction in voiceover will take time. Don’t rush it.
The litmus test will be whether you run hot and cold with the idea of working as a voiceover actor, or whether you’re prepared for the long game.
So let’s talk about the first step you need to take to learn the skills and prepare yourself to give it a damn good shot?
Making the Right Decisions about Voiceover Training
If you believe voiceover is just about reading or having a good voice, you’re not going to get very far.
Voiceover is a real skill. Your job is to understand the words on the page, then convert them into spoken word, sounding comfortable, confident, expert or, in the case of character work, completely believable.
Don’t confuse voice training with voiceover training. Sure, if you feel you need to understand more about the science of the voice, or you have issues that need attending to about your voice, then sure, get ‘voice’ coaching.
Voiceover training first and foremost needs to be script technique training.
Your voice, while integral to a good read, is just not as important as understanding how to approach the script.
You need to be able to look at the words ‘on’ the page and understand these essentials.
- What’s the writer’s intention?
- Who’s is the audience you’re delivering the story, concept, message or information to?
- How do you need to make them feel?
- How do you want them to respond or, in the case of commercial advertising, what do you want them to do?
Knowing those things will help you decide on ‘who’ you’re going to be when you deliver that message ‘off’ the page…and that’s about what voice, attitude tone, pace and volume you use
For instance, in the script are you:
- A friend who has some good news to share
- The spokesperson of the company selling us something
- Delivering ‘how-to’ or information like an expert
- A character (in an environment) or
- A person telling a story (and making it your own)
There are many different scripts out there and each one will require a slightly different approach, so you need to understand how to analyse the script and find the key words and phrases, that tell the story or communicate its meaning.
Some people come to voiceover because they love to play with language and character voices. That’s all good. Being able to change your voice, mimic anyone and do character voices for animation is s great skill.
Despite what you may love to do with your voice, expert professional voiceover training with the right coach, will help you understand what it is about your voice that is marketable.
A good coach will also be able to tell you what areas of the industry may suit you and what kind of scripts you could be working with.
They’ll work with you on your strengths and weaknesses and give you information about how it all works in your area.
Another thing you need to do when you’re learning is what I call ‘the free training’.
It’s free, because it’s research, simply watching and listening to anything that is voiceover. That includes:
- Ads on radio, TV and online
- In-store advertising
- Events, such as stadiums, conventions or Expo’s
- Anything that’s digitally delivered
- Explainer and Sales videos on websites and Youtube channels
- Other voiceover demos and sample on their personal websites or their agent’s websites, and
- Anywhere else you hear the disembodied voice
If you’re interested in character work and animation, or game voices, you need to be searching for sites and videos that will share information about that kind of work.
The Free voiceover training via all those means comes to you via the generous sharing of voiceover coaches and voice actors who write blogs (like this one J ) and create videos of themselves working through a variety of scripts.
This is invaluable research.
On your journey you must do whatever you can to stay engaged with voiceover.
Before you even think about a demo, you need to know what you’re doing.
The only way you can do that is training with a professional voiceover coach; someone who’s either working in voiceover or producing voiceover artists.
As I said earlier, be prepared for the long game and enjoy it.