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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Stop Your Voice Sounding Monotonous

When you hear your voice back on a recording, does it sound flat and lifeless? Here are some tips on how to add sparkle and interest to your voice overs.

Newcomers to the voiceover business are often disappointed with the sound of their own voices. It is quite usual to hear a drab delivery emanating from your mouth. This is often just a case of working on performance skills to help improve the overall vocal dynamics. But why is this happening and what steps do you need to take?

When we communicate in the everyday world we don't just use our voices; at least fifty percent of our communication is non-verbal; facial expressions, hand gestures and body language all combine to make up the message. Of course in voice overs these visual elements are missing, but inexperienced voice actors often forget to take this on board resulting in a lacklustre performance.

So what action should we take to achieve the desired result and reverse that mono-tonal drone?

To add dynamism into the voice we should adopt an approach that includes various facial expressions. A big smile (no matter how silly you make look) will add warmth and friendliness to your voice. If the script dictates gravitas, a frown will help you deliver a more serious tone. Experiment with your face gestures so you know which ones produce the best results.

The respected American voice over expert Bill DeWees talks about the importance of 'being' in voice overs. What he means by this is that instead of sounding like you are happy or authoritative (or whatever the direction is) you should BE happy or authoritative. This is a subtle but important distinction - 'being' is much more convincing than 'sounding like'.

Finally I want to touch on the 'E' word ... energy. This is an often misunderstood concept in voice overs. It's different from speed and can make or break a piece. By energy I mean the oomph that you push into the script. Many of the students who attend my voice over training session are surprised to hear their voices played back to them. That flaccid, dull noise coming from the speakers IS their voice, just minus any energy.

The important maxim to remember is that you never get back what you put in with a voice over performance and you often need to go that extra mile to achieve the desired effect. If you are doing a soft sell, then you will undoubtedly require more passion than in real life. Likewise an upbeat or hard sell commercial may need you to push your vocal performance to the wire and possibly out of your comfort zone. It's not easy, but practice will really help.

So before you open your mouth get ready to add that va va voom.

If you want to contact me with your voice over questions please email and I will do my best to help.

Gary Terzza

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