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Saturday, August 09, 2014

Game Of Tones: How To Play Your Voice For Maximum Impact

By Gary Terzza.

What steps can you take to improve the chances of securing voice over work? Are you doing stuff (or not doing stuff) that is putting off clients? 

Let's look at moves that will sharpen your voiceover skills and explore some of those common mistakes.

Be prepared

Before you do an audition, record a demo or even just prior to doing an actual voice over job, you should think about warming up your voice to improve tonal quality. Some gentle vocal exercises are often all you need to oil those dry cogs.

There are lots of workouts around, so it is important to develop your own routine based on your favourite procedure. I do NOT recommend exercising your larynx like this pair from 'Anchorman 2'

There are plenty of good singers' exercises which work just as well for voice actors, but here is one of my favourite VO pre-session routines from +Frank James Bailey who puts his heart, soul and mouth into this drill

Of course the big question is, where will you do your tonsil workout? If you are at home that is no problem, but going to a studio and doing this may garner some funny looks; I have sometimes done mine in the toilet .... and I pity the poor guy in the next cubicle! 

So that will get your voice well prepped, but how can you hone your delivery?

Performance is everything

Proper script execution is SO important. The central plank of voice over delivery is immersion in the script. By this I mean that you submerge yourself deep into the words; in fact you have to sound like the words are genuinely coming from you, even though the text has been written by somebody else.

You should be at one with the words on the page. Possess them and make them yours. It is about ownership of the words.

Don't let the words get in the way; they are yours for the duration of the script and you need to take control of them. Plunge deep into the storyline and you will sound convincing. Lose focus and your delivery will head towards the unbelievable.

But how do you give the clients what they want?

Direction, direction, direction

Amazingly too many voice over artists fail to respond to direction properly. If a job calls for an authoritative delivery then don't just sound like you are being authoritative, but really be authoritative. 

Don't know how to do it? Then learn. You can't expect somebody to pay you if you can't do your job properly.

When a director says they want you to emphasise the end part more slowly stressing the call to action (e.g. 'call now') then this is exactly what you should do; don't just do the same read as before - voice over talents need to listen very carefully to the director and give them what they want.

Of course it may be you are going for the wrong kind of voice over work in the first place.

Choose carefully

The voice over market places (sometimes called 'pay to play' or p2p) are a great resource for allowing clients to book voice over artists all over the world. The likes of Voice123 , and +The Voice Realm  have been doing this successfully for some time and they work well if you use them correctly.

The biggest mistake voice talents make when applying for work on these sites is they don't read the project details properly. I have come across people applying for jobs they are totally unsuitable for; hopefuls are often blinded by the dollar or pound signs, completely ignoring the brief. 

Some examples include youngsters submitting auditions where the requirement is clearly stated as middle age or senior;  delivering an audition where the talent does not fully understand what the client wants and applying for long-form projects of many tens or hundreds of thousands of words when the applicant has no time in their diary to record the job. 

Make sure you know what you are taking on, read the details of the job fully and think before you apply.

Become familiar with your voice's resonance and timbre. Where does it work best? Does your accent preclude you from certain scripts? Does your voice feel comfortable doing the audition, or are you struggling with inflection and the general tone of the script? If so, it might be better to move on to a more suitable project.


Excellent preparation, perfecting your performance and applying for voice over work you know is suitable for you will all help improve your strike rate. Don't let sloppiness and lack of familiarity with the sound of your own voice put you at a disadvantage.

Voice over jobs are there to be won ....... and lost.

Want more voice over training tips? Please see my YouTube channel here.

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