Understanding the VoiceOver game!
Knowing Your Voice Style
I’ve coached those with voiceover skills who say they ‘want’ to do a certain type of voiceover work.
Then when I work with them, I sometimes discover that what they’d like to be doing is not something they’d ever be cast for.
The fact is, there are so many different ways a voice is used.
Sometimes that voice bears little resemblance to who you are in the world. It often isn’t even really related to your biological age…and one of the secrets to getting work is that you need to know where your disembodied voice or voices fit.
But how do you find that out?
Well, if you work with an expert coach, they’ll help you identify what that is for you, and guide you toward script styles and voiceover genres, whether it’s commercial work, non-broadcast work, animation, character or narration.
If you’re going it alone though you need to listen very objectively wherever you hear the disembodied voice.
When you begin to focus on it, you’ll hear voices everywhere.
You’re especially listening for yourself.
Not, as I said before, to work you’d like to be doing, but a voice that is similar to yours.
Listen to what style or type of work that voice is doing? And more importantly, can you do it as well?
Here are some other things you need to be engaging with regularly, to build your knowledge of the voiceover world and your place in it.
Get your research happening!
Firstly, listen to commercial work, TV, radio, cinema and online advertising.
Listen to what kind of work is being done, for what kinds of products. Make a note of where you hear it.
If it’s on a radio station, which one…and who is their audience?
If it’s an ad break on TV, what program is that break in…and who is watching?
If it’s online, which site or video have you gone to and, once again, who is the audience? Is the audience small. That is, is this a product that only certain people will want, or is the audience large, and is the product something we could potentially all want.
Who your audience is and what the problems they have, that your product can solve, will inform your read
In voiceover, you need to understand as much about who you’re talking to, as you do about the script, the message and what voice to deliver that message in.
Then listen mindfully
And as often as you can, to the disembodied voice in all the different locations that use voiceover:
- At events
- Audio books
- In training and instructional material, and
- On-hold and voice prompt systems (such as for banks, large companies and utilities)
To do further research into you and where you’d fit, listen to voiceover demos of others who are successful.
Google voice actors in your locality to find their personal websites, or you can often listen to voiceover performers on their agent’s websites. Just Google voiceover agents in your location.
You’re listening for how it is they present their voice abilities through good choices of scripts, and cracking reads that really connect.
Once you’ve identified your voice type or style, you need to make sure you select material that’s written for that kind of voice.
Before you make a demo, you must source material that is written well, even if it’s a business or industrial (corporate) read and is something that’s a little on the dry side.
Then you need to practice, practice, practice!
Don’t forget! Your disembodied voice on an audio file is the first thing a prospective employer will hear.
Your samples on a demo, or individually on your website, are what will get you that job. If they’re not ‘top shelf’ it’s likely you’ll be passed by for someone whose work is.
When you put together a compilation demo or put samples onto your website, those voice clips definitely need to say:
- This person knows what they’re good at
- They understand different styles of scripts
- They also know a lot about what they’re doing
- They sound confident with the language in the script
- They understand how to deliver the meaning in the message
Those listening will decide whether you’re someone they want to work with at between the 5 and 15 second point of the demo, so you need to always put your best work first.
If you successfully impress them with your reads, they’ll listen on…and if they do get to the end of the demo, it’s likely that they’ll be booking you for a job or considering you for one in the future.
They want you to be great…because they want to find a voice that the client will love and who’ll get the client’s message out there in a compelling and engaging way?
Once again, you need to identify your voice style and work towards perfecting that.
If you get stuck working through this on your own and truly believe you have the skills for voiceover, pay a coach to set you straight. Make sure your coach is working as a voice actor or producing voiceover. Anything less will be a waste of your hard-earned money.