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The Conversational Read: Relax Into Your
Voice And Become Comfortable With It
July 26, 2016

(VOXtra) - Can you have an easy conversation with your microphone? Relaxed, natural, as if talking to a friend? It's a style much in demand these days.

But it's NOT easy! Many of us tense up when activating the mic. And if we've been weaned on the so-called "announcer style" of voicing, that's a hard habit to shake.

In this brief video, UK voice talent / VO coach Gary Terzza demonstrates how to ease into a "natural" read. And you might want to follow along in the transcript that is directly below the video.

Thanks for letting us share, Gary!


In the last few years in voice overs, there's been a move toward a more conversational, chatty, informal style, which is fine, but how do you achieve it?

Hello. Welcome along to my VO Master Class. It's the Holy Grail of a voice over read. It is the conversational delivery. How do you achieve it? It's one of those elusive things that does escape some people, but other people seem to be able to do it, just like that.

I want you today to listen to one of my students. It's Mark Thomas, and here he is doing a voiceover for Mathletics in association with UNICEF.

Mark Thomas:
Zimbabwe is home to over 30 million people. More than 72% of the population here live below the poverty line. At Mathletics, we believe no young person should go without an education. That's why we're proud to work in partners with UNICEF since 2014.
Gary Terzza:

It's a really natural, lovely read. Isn't it? It just seems to flow. It's as if Mark's chatting to us in a coffee bar somewhere, and he's just telling us all about Mathletics and about UNICEF, and I think that's very important. He's inhabiting the words, but he's also not hitting certain words too hard.

Let's take a look at these words here. This is a corporate script, and I'm going to read it in a voiceovery way.
These days, it's imperative to put your best digital foot forward by maintaining a positive online image. If you haven't thought about it before, perhaps it's time to take a hard, honest look at how you're managing your online reputation.
In my opinion, that's far too overdone really, and I think I can make it a bit more natural, a bit more informal, a bit more conversational.
These days, it's imperative to put your best digital foot forward by maintaining a positive online image. If you haven't thought about it before, perhaps it's time to take a hard, honest look at how you're managing your online reputation.
I think that's a much better way of doing it. It's more natural. It's lighter. I'm not trying to be Voiceover Man, which in fact, in the early days, I always used to be, and it never worked, and you end up sounding a bit like a radio DJ really.

It's getting to know the words and it's getting to know your voice, as well, and learning to relax into that voice and being comfortable with it, as well.
Gary Terzza is a UK voice over coach based in London. He is also a long established voice over artist with a client list that includes Channel 4, BBC, ITV, Pepsi-Cola, Symantec, BAE Systems and Hitachi.


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Comments (6)
4/6/2020 at 9:27 PM
Thank you for the video. It was very informative and helpful since I am just getting started.
4/2/2020 at 2:29 AM
In managing your online reputation, you need to build your website and your connection to your audiences, and I think this writing of your author made my day! This is very nice and full of learning!
Andrew Martin
11/7/2019 at 12:48 AM
Thanks for the post and the video. It gives me a lot to think about as I work to improve my voice-over techniques. Thanks again.
Gary Terzza
8/21/2018 at 1:37 PM
I am not sure there is any one single technique to sounding conversational. Whether you are narrating a tale for an audiobook or selling shampoo in a commercial, voiceovers are all about telling a story - bringing the words to life with authenticity and perhaps even a little panache. We can't force a natural style, it has to come from within and this is why voice-overs are often described as the 'theatre of the mind'. Narrators are painting pictures with the words on the page and if they can do that with sincerity, then they are doing the job properly.

Of course at the end of the day we all prefer some voices over others and there is no accounting for taste when we choose our favourite narrator!
8/18/2018 at 4:10 AM
I've been trying to find out exactly where this technique originated. After much frustration, I found my answer right here in this blog.

I can't tell you how many audio books I've deleted because the narrator used this technique, poorly.

Their performance sounded fake, forced, and completely unnatural, and caused me to lose any interest in listening any further. They sounded like they ran out of breath, while trying to get in all of the written words.

Is it required to use this method to become an audio book narrator? Or is it just an option that you teach? When I read a book, it doesn't sound like this to me at all.

I have many favorites in different genres, and some of those books I've read more than half a dozen times. But if I were to narrate these books using this method, they probably wouldn't be my favorites anymore.

Ken Farmer
7/26/2016 at 9:32 AM
Good article, Gary. I've been a professional actor for over 40 years and an acting/VO coach for the last 20. I try to keep it simple. I tell my voice actors to pretend the mic is a person...their best friend, and then just tell the damn story.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
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