Techniques for the Voice Actor

Making it Real

At one time we were called voiceover artists

These days, the term voice actor is more generally used to describe who we are and voice acting, what we do.



There’s been a trend for at least 5-10 years to make the reads more natural, more conversational and more connected to an audience.

To do this successfully and get booked for that kind of work, there are certain techniques you need to be across that rely much more on your ability to ‘act’, than to read words nicely.

*Don’t be worried about the fact that you’ve never been trained as an actor though.

Truth is, you don’t have to be a ‘trained actor’ to get work as a voice actor. Many voice actors have never performed at all.  Voice acting relies more on a set of natural abilities that are well informed, than intensive performance training.

But you do still have to find a way to make what you’re reading jumps out and is heard.

That’s what you get the big bucks for.

These days, and more so in the ‘commercial world’ of TV, radio and online advertising, we’re required to bring something unique to a script, so I want to give you some tips and techniques to help you create believable ‘performances’ with your voice acting.

Even when a producer asks you to be ‘conversation’ or ‘natural’ in your read, you will still have to do that in a way that connects with an audience. You know the one I mean…the audience that’s not really paying attention to you.


I need to bust a myth!

You’re rarely going to be able to build a career as a voice actor by just being a good reader. It’s not enough!

In voiceover you need to offer something stand-out different, if you want to build a career.

The good news is, there are so many ways to add colour and artistic value to a script. You just need to be inventive.

Those who are able to make every read interesting and dynamic, are those who get booked again and again.

The best way to learn how to do this is to practice, and get really good at, the skill of transparent ‘reading’.

That means, that your ‘reading’ doesn’t sound like you’re reading at all. It just sounds like you’re talking directly to us and either ‘telling us a story’ or ‘convincing us of something’.

To help you understand how to do this through a ‘script’ you need to become more conscious of when you are doing just this, in your everyday life.

Become more conscious of how you’re telling a story .

Listen to what you do with emotions and attitude if you want to convince someone of something important.

How do shifts in attitudes or emotions is change the way you’re speaking?

In reality, we spend every day jumping in and out of different personas in order to navigate our relationships. Translating that knowledge into your work will improve you voice acting in so many ways.

Don’t forget, the main thing that will get you noticed out there in voiceover-land is that you’re able to convince…in an entertaining and genuine (believable) way.

Of course, whatever choice you make will, of course, be governed by the content of the script. You will still need to ask the script:

  • What’s the product
  • Where does that appear in the script
  • What is this script really saying?
  • Where are the key words and phrases?
  • Where is the language that tells us the central reason for the ad?
  • Who am I talking to, and
  • What do I want them to do?

Heightened Performance

Often in voice over, the emotional choice can be rather theatrical.  Of course when we say theatrical, we often see or hear BIG.

You can’t be big in voiceover.

*Don’t forget, the digital medium doesn’t like loud voices.

You need to contain your theatricality.

I call this ‘heightened’ performance…where you are definitely ‘larger than life’, just not ‘louder than life’.

In order to convince a half-listening audience, you may need to ‘act’ as though the icecream you’re talking about is the best thing you’ve ever tasted, that the socks in the sale are amazing…or that if you buy this product you’ll never have a bad day again.

You may need to ‘act’ as though you’re the authority on what you’re talking about. That’s a real skill if you’re not very familiar with the script…and even more so if you really DON’T know what you’re talking about. It happens. Especially with Medical scripts.

You may need to be bitchy, bewildered or bumbling, manipulative, seductive or incredibly excited about your message.

So, in order to help you become better at looking at a script and coming up with unique, engaging performance options, I want you to become more conscious of how you sound in any given ‘real-life’ situation.

I want you to listen for emotions that you use to underpin your story, or how emotions colour the response you get from someone.

Begin building your knowledge of how to use those skills in your voiceover reads.

After all, just like any form of performance, voiceover is not real life, just a very short-form-slice-of-life that just happens to be commercial advertising.

Happy voiceovering!