Useful Ideas For Describing Your Voice.
Now, it may seem like a minor thing, but in voice overs a voice description is essential.
How would you describe how you sound to a stranger? I must admit I find it difficult to describe my own voice. In fact it's my agent who came up with the words for me. She suggested something along the lines of
"Intelligent, factual reader"
You can see her full description here
Of course it does not mean I am an intelligent person (!), it is simply one person's perception of my voice. But it is a very useful handle to have.
Let's have a look at some adjectives that could be useful for describing your own voice
Mellifluous (perhaps a little overused)
I've just tossed a few ideas in there to see if you think any of those match your voice.
One of the problems of doing your own description is it can end up sounding like a cheese or wine! On occasion, the attributes end up like a restaurant menu!
It's very easy, also, to use cliches. Sometimes you have no choice to use one in order to accurately describe your voice, but try not to if you can.
My pet hate is....
A lot of people like to describe their voices as sexy, but I'm never quite sure what that means exactly. It conjures up different images to different people of course. It is too subjective, value-laden and hackneyed.
The other overused adjective is
What does that mean? To me professional means not being an amateur. Things like turning up to the studio on time or crafting your work to a very high standard and getting paid for the job. I don't quite know what that means in terms of of describing a voice. It's too vague really and very subjective.
The other thing is to think about is age. What age is your voice? Remember, your real age and your voice age may be two totally different things. You could be 30, but your voice may sound, 20s or teens, or it may sound, 40s or 50s.
It's important to try and get an objective opinion. For example record a few spoken vocal samples and then ask friends and family to sit down, put your recording on the speakers or smartphone and then make notes. They can then scribble down some useful adjectives.
I think that's a really good way of getting ideas about your voice from those who know you best.
If you really want an objective opinion what you could do is use social media. Post your recording on to Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Just say, "Hey everyone. What does my voice sound like?" You might get some interesting views. The important bit about that of course is you're getting people who've never heard you before. Never seen you. Also, it's better if you don't put your face on, because that always colours and tarnishes how they might perceive you.
It is important to get a voice description. You don't need too many adjectives - it's about honesty, but at the same time there is a promotional element. Obviously don't be negative, you need to be positive about it and give your voice a good thumbs up.
Be as accurate as you can
Make sure that a potential voice over client does not have a nasty shock. If they read a description saying the voice is"elegantly British" and when they listen to the showreel they hear a regional accent that's not going to do the voice actor much good. In a way you have deceived the listener.
You voice description needs to match the reality of what your voice actually sounds like. How do you describe your voice? Please let me know in the comments below.
If you have enjoyed reading this article, you may like to see the video version here.
Gary Terzza has spent over 30 years in the business and teaches voice over technique at his VoMasterClass