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Are You Scared Of The Microphone? How To Combat Mic Fright

Are you gripped by terror before a voice over session? Does the thought of doing a voiceover job sometimes give you clammy hands and a sweaty brow?

Fear not, you are in good company.

In this video I explain how a simple technique will help you gain confidence behind the mic and help you give a better, more assured performance.

Video Transcript

Gary Terzza:                You're about to go into the studio. You're very excited about doing the voice over. And then your mouth becomes dry, and your voice gets strangulated. You're suffering from mic-fright.

                                    Hi, hello. I hope you're in fine voice. Now, I want you to meet a very close, very special friend of mine. Here he is. There we go. It's mic; my mate, mic. He's a very special friend, actually, because he never questions me. He's all ears, all the time, never answers back. He's always with me in the studio. I know he's there. I can totally rely on him 100%. I may be fallible, but he's not. Now, the reason I've made mates with mic--made friends with him--is because I know it helps me to deliver voice overs. That may sound strange, but having your microphone as your friend or even another microphone in another studio as a friend is a great asset.

                                        The reason is you're talking to a friend. You're not talking at them; you're talking to them. They're listening all the time in a friendly way. They don't want to criticize you; they just want to listen and see what you've go to say. That's exactly the same in voice overs.

                                        If you can make the microphone your friend, that is a great leap forward. What it means is you are talking, when you're delivering a script. You're not talking at someone. You're talking to them. You're just chatting away. Even if you're not sure about the words, or you're not sure about the environment. The mic is there. It's always the one constant you have. It's very important to do that. It's a psychological boost really, and it will help you cope with microphone fright, which is a bit like stage fright that actors suffer from.

                                       My top tip for today is make the microphone your friend, and that will stop you having scary mic-fright. See you soon. Thanks for watching, and look after your voice.

Is Your Lover Trampling On Your Voice Over Dreams?

Our partners, family and friends have a huge bearing on our journey through life. Those closest to us help us achieve our ambitions and advise us when we might be going off track.

I've been very lucky in having a wonderfully supportive wife who has backed me and my madcap voiceover career through thick and thin. But what if one of these special people (or even a group of them) disagreed with what you were doing and started to question your judgement?

In voice overs this is quite a common issue and one that can be detrimental to your progress.

Let's be honest, voice overs are a pretty obscure niche to try to explain to the uninitiated and their reaction is often one of bewilderment:

"What are you saying? You mean you want to talk on TV adverts, or read stories or be in a videogame and actually be paid for it?" 

This is often the initial reaction and it can be quite crushing to your aspirations. After all, you have been thinking about exploring the world of voice overs for a long time and the last thing you need is someone (especially someone whose approval we want) to dampen your enthusiasm.

Some will be incredibly supportive (even if they don't understand the machinations of voice overs) whilst others will be very dismissive and try to dissuade you from progressing with your ambitions. It is this latter group that can cause serious damage to your dreams.

In this video  I look at this delicate, personal problem and suggest a solution (but I don't provide marriage guidance!)

Video transcript

Gary Terzza:    Here's a provocative one for you, is your lover or a friend or family member stopping you from getting voice over work? Interesting question isn't it? Why would someone you know and trust and love stop you from getting voice over work? It doesn't make sense does it? But I've had so many people contact me in the past who said, "Oh, really interested in doing voice overs," and I've given a bit of background about what you should do, the steps you should take and so on, and they've gone, "Yeah, yeah I really going to do it," and then a few weeks or months later they come back to me and say, "Oh no, I decided not to do it."

When I've probed that further, the reason seems to be because friends or family or someone very close to them has said, "Well, do you know well I don't think you should do it. Why you doing that you're wasting your time. There's too much competition, or why would you want to do that? Who would want your voice?" You'll be amazed at how many lovers, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives and so on, and just friends in the family circle have that reaction when you say it. That's why a lot of people doing voice overs actually don't tell other people. They just keep schtum about it, because they're rather embarrassed about it. I quite understand that.

I think that's a natural reaction, and so what I would say is, "Look," to those people, "Look, I really really want to do this. Please don't tread on my dreams. I don't want you to, it's something I really want to do, or at least I'd like to give it a go. Please support me in this." You never know they might come around to your point of view. Now, if you're lucky and you've got a really good supportive spouse, or a friend, or relative, whatever, who is supportive and will really help you then that's great. 
Those people are worth their weight in gold. As for the others, well perhaps it is time to say goodbye to those people.

I don't want to be accused of fuelling divorce or anything like that, but by the same token you need a cheerleader. You need someone who's going to support you through the good times and the bad in voice overs. They're a tricky business to get into. Lots of rocky roads ahead, so if you can choose your friends carefully, and choose your lovers carefully, and at least trying to get them on board. I think that's the main thing, the main advice I would say. Anyway, that's the end of today's rather spiky Voice-Over Masterclass. 

Thanks very much for watching today, and of course look after your voice. 

Breaths Playing Havoc With Your Voice Overs? 3 Ways To Make Breathing Less Intrusive

One of the big issues that concerns voice over artists is hearing breaths on the recording. You can reach the stage where you become SO obsessed with the sound of the sharp release of unwanted air that you forget about the voice and the job in hand.

But there are practical steps you can take to ease the effect and allow you to concentrate on the voice over job in hand. 

In this video I go through 3 steps which I hope prove practical and allow you to breathe more easily: http://youtu.be/BEJuA9TPMKs

Video Transcript

You’re reading your script; it’s all going rather swimmingly, and then suddenly, you have an urge; an urge to do something, and you can’t stop it.  It is … breathing.


Hi, hello, I hope you’re in fine voice.  Breathing in voice overs can be a real issue, or so it seems.  You can be recording that piece, listening back, and you think, “All I can hear is my breath.”  The main thing to do, is not to panic.  Breathing is quite natural.  Everyone’s doing it these days.  You wouldn’t … In the real world, you wouldn’t be chatting to a friend and thinking, “Right, in about 4 sentences’ time, I’m going to take a big lung full of air.”  It just wouldn’t happen.

You shouldn’t have that approach in voice overs, either.  One of the ways you can help your breathing in voice overs, is to actually mark the script.  I would go through the script a couple of times, and put a little “B”, or a tic, or some mark, where you think the breaths should be.  If you’re rehearsing it, you’ll get to have a feel for it, and you’ll get to have a feel where the natural breaks are.

Number one is, mark the script.  The second way of dealing with breathing in voice overs is to remove the breaths, using software such as Audacity, if you’re recording in that, or Adobe Audition, or GarageBand, or whatever.  You can just highlight it, and delete the offending breath.  You can do that between sentences, or indeed, between words.  However, you can’t do it within the word itself.

Be very careful with this method, because if you do it too much, it can make the whole piece sound rather odd, and it makes it sound like you’re not breathing at all, particularly if it’s a long form read, so just be careful of it.  Sometimes, it’s actually easier and better to reduce the volume of the breath, so that it’s actually dipped vis-à-vis the rest of your reading.  That’s something to bear in mind as well.

That’s method number 2.  The third way … shock, horror, a bit of a radical solution, this … Is to leave the breaths in.  This is perfectly acceptable, particularly in long form readings such as audio books, where breathing is part of it.  It allows the … Let’s admit it, it allows the piece to breathe, and the listener doesn’t mind a little bit of breathing from you.  Leave those breaths in; don’t edit them out.

That’s not necessarily the case if it’s a very punchy piece, such as a promo or something like that, where you might want to edit the breaths out.  In the main, I would say, leave them in and see what happens.  Your client can always send them back if they don’t think it’s suitable, and if you’re too breathy.

Also, I would remove your headphones as well.  If you’re wearing headphones, it will cause your ears, and your brain, to simply focus in on the breaths, and not on the meaning of the script and the words, which is what you want, really. 

Please, don’t get hung up on that breathing.  Just relax, don’t worry about it too much.  There are lots of solutions, and it’s probably affecting you and concerning you far, far more than your client or your listener.

All right, thanks very much for listening today, and I’ll look forward to seeing you next time.  Take care of your voice.  

Stop Being So Shy: Why A Lack Of Self Promotion Is Stopping You Getting Voice Over Work

Do you have your picture on your voice over profile? Do you include a photo when applying for VO work? If the answers are 'no', you are making yourself less competitive.

We live in the age of the 'selfie' where people's faces are plastered all over social media; on the internet pictures of other human beings attract us much more than shadowy silhouettes. Richard Branson is synonymous with the Virgin brand and the late Steve Jobs was as much a part of the Apple identity as the stylised fruit logo.

Content marketing expert +Mark Traphagen in his revealing article on The Power Of The Personal calls it the intimacy of the identified' and in the voice over industry if your face is not associated with your voice, then you could be passed over by potential clients.

In this video  I look at why you can't afford to be shy when trying to get voice over work.

Video Transcript

Gary Terzza:                Hello. We talk a lot about marketing in Voice-Overs these days, but some people are doing themselves no favours at all. Here's why.
                                       Let's just imagine for a moment, you've got your show reel together, you've got a bit of a commercial on that. You've got some e-learning stuff, corporate type things, perhaps a little audio book excerpt. If you want to do video games, you've got character voices and things like that. You're fairly happy with it, it's about three or four minutes worth of material and you're ready to go into the big wide voice over world.

                                        The next stage is the marketing side. A very, very important part of getting voice over work. Now what a lot of people do is they say, "Right, it's all about my voice and I'm not going to put a photo on there. I don't want my friends and family to know I'm doing voice overs. I don't want my colleagues at work to know or the boss to know I'm doing voice overs. Therefore, I'm going to be anonymous. I'm going to create a stage name. I'm not going to put a photo up there or if I am, it's going to be a photo of a cat and I'm going to promote myself in that way." I would say that is a big, big mistake.

                                        Don't be scared of promoting yourself. I know there's a thing that you think, "Well actually I'm quite shy and I hide behind my voice." I'm of the firm belief that if you don't add a photo, if you don't make yourself very contactable, if you don't say, "This is me. This is what I look like." Then you are not going to do very well in voice overs just because of the promotional side.

                                        You have to remember that at the end of the day, it is one human being, ie your client, choosing the sound of another human being, ie you, and if you dehumanize yourself by not promoting yourself and not putting a picture there or not including a photo or not making yourself contactable then you're going to come unstuck at the end of the day.

                                       Keep yourself human, make sure that people know it's you and you'll stand a much better chance of getting voice over work. That's it for today. Thanks very much for watching and I'll see you next time.

End Titles

How To Add Energy To Your Voice Overs

by Gary Terzza.                                                                                        

                        It is one of the most common issues when people start out in voice overs. Their voices sound flat and lifeless. 

This is one of the main reasons casting agents reject demos too!

So what do you need to do to help add vigour and vitality to your voice? 

This week I am looking at the practical steps you can take to add life to a dull performance.

Transcript of Video

Hello. A lot of people say, "Oh I can do voice overs. I can do an audio book or children's book, something like that because it sounds a bit easier. But what I can't do is a hard sell commercial. I couldn't be energetic. My voice just isn't like that!" Well I'm about to show you how you can put energy into your performance.

     (Gary drinks coffee)
                         That was a lovely cup of coffee. Hang on a minute though. What if I said, "That was a lovely cup of coffee." I think the first one is far, far more energetic isn't it? More convincing and sounds like I'm actually selling the thought that it was a lovely cup of coffee, whereas the second one, it's a bit more downbeat and probably at the end of the day means I didn't enjoy it really, but I don't want to insult you. Now what I've done there is just what we do in normal life anyway. If I met a friend off the train, it'd be, "Hey! Joe! Great to see you!" Be all that sort of business, wouldn't it? It's just kind of part of life, isn't it? When you get excited about something, you're pleased to see someone, you get excited. You start to put in that energy automatically.

                           Now in voice overs, it's a case of tapping into that in real life in the studio, either in your own studio or in an external one. So if you're presented with a script that the direction says, "Be energetic," or "Add energy and enthusiasm," what you then have to do is to tap into your natural enthusiasm, you're excitability, if you like, that is really there and you switch on for various occasions. You've just got to switch it on for your script. Now if you're saying, "Well, but I can't do that," I would say, "But you can do that! Because you do it in real life anyway!" It's not that you're learning anything new. You're just bringing something to that script and you're switching that enthusiasm and that energy on.

                           The other thing is, in energy, and certainly in terms of performance, is about being very physical. Now I've got a sort of constrained box here, but if I was recording a voice over, speaking into the mic, I would be using my hands and my body language. So if I was to say, "Prices are down, down, down!" I'd be doing all that sort of business and I'd be throwing my body into it. So you can make the energy come out of you by getting that physicality behind it, getting that body language behind it to reflect the energy and the excitement that you're trying to get across.

                           Now there is a third element, which is the confidence thing. You've got to have the confidence to do it. You've got to break through that self consciousness membrane, which we've all got. You've got to kind of break through it and just say, "Right, to hell with that. For this 30 seconds, I'm enthusiastic." You may not want to be enthusiastic, but you're paid to be enthusiastic in this particular case or this particular script.

                          So tap into the reservoir. That's one of the main things to do -that excitement reservoir you have. Learn to switch that on on command. That's what you've got to do. Break through that membrane and also use your body language as much as you can to get that performance across, and remember the golden rule in voice overs: You never get back what you put in, so you can afford to push it that extra mile.

                        Well that's it for today. That's it about energy and I'll see you next time. Thanks very much for watching. Bye.