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Voice over effectiveness

Voice Over Effectiveness

1.  First, know this…Your own voice is your biggest asset.  Before you develop other characters, get to know your own vocal uniqueness. Experts advise to make yourself fit the script. So, unless and/or until you can pull it off with total believability, don’t try to be what you’re not.

2.  Remember your second most important asset…your ears.  Listen and learn.  Get to know a natural read from a retail read.  Learn what’s in vogue now and what’s in retrograde.  Listen to the copywriter, producer, and mixing engineer (he’s a secret expert witness since he works with every producer in town).  Listen and you’ll develop the ability to give your clients what they want quickly.  Giving them what they want will get you invited back again.     

3.  Visualize real people you actually know when you read the script. Ask, “Who am I and to whom am I talking to?” Imagine their reaction as though you’re speaking face-to-face.  Do you know more than the person you’re talking to or do you know less? What is your attitude toward them and theirs toward you?  Is the object of your frame of reference smart or a buffoon? Is he or she a close trusted friend or disinterested party? The more clearly you emotionally understand the attitudes in the spot the more real the impact of your read will be. Remember there are no monologues in real life, even if you are the only speaker.   

4.  Read carefully and understand your copy.  Ask, “What’s the message of the writer?”  Read the entire script to make sure that you’re living the intent of the spot as you’re recording it.  There is almost always an implied setting or ambience surrounding the message.  When you understand where the script is going, you can follow the evolution of the situation and adjust accordingly as it develops.  It’s important that you’re always acting in the moment throughout the spot.   

5.  Remember your voice lives in a physical world so use your physicality to convey a sense of reality in your delivery.  If you’re presenting in a formal attitude, stand straight and your delivery will reflect your posture, naturally.  To sound relaxed, slouch or sit down.  For warmth, smile and think of the mike intimately as an ear.  The more real it feels, the more real it will sound.   

6.  Connect. Be emotional.  Be more than just another copyreader.  It’s a common announcer foible and can be tough to overcome.  Don’t telegraph the message.  Let the ideas in the copy act upon you.  More than speak the words, act them out.   

7. Don’t  . . . be  . . . predictable in your pacing.  Pause  . . . in an unusual place, tumble some less important words and s-p-r-e-a-d others.  Sometimes unusual pacing and pausing can catch the ears of the listener and more importantly, the casting agent.    

8. When appropriate try a little vocal shtick in your read.  Sometimes it’s the reactions or imperfections like adding an occasional “uh” and “ah” or “you know” that can lend uniqueness and believability to a dialogue spot.  Ad-libbing can ease tension in a session and help make the spot better as well, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the work.   

9. In dialogue spots, have fun with the interplay and environment to help create a connection between the characters.  To keep it real and interesting make sure you keep the pacing of the spot crisp. Like real people, you can interrupt each other cautiously to give the spot a feeling of spontaneity (without being too sloppy about it in case the client needs to edit later).   

10. Once you establish your character, stay in character. Don’t morph into somebody else. Learn how the character feels.  You can remember your character by choosing a vocal cue, musical pattern, accent, tempo, or attitude as a reference.  If you pay attention to the character and don’t allow yourself to be distracted or insecure, you’ll stay where you need to be.   

Finally remember the unwritten rule:  Have fun with your craft.  The more you play at your craft, the more comfortable you will become with your process, and the faster your skills will grow. Good Luck!  Now go out there and wow  ‘em!

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