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Voice Acting: Connect With Listener
By Lifting The Words Off The Page
By Bobbin Beam
Voice Actor
I was thinking recently about something that Chuck Blore said in a workshop I attended a while back.
He spoke of the listener, and the fact that he/she will tune out unless you (the voice) conveys the message to that listener exactly "what's in it for him/her."
Clearly, the purpose of a voice-over is to connect with your audience, so number one: always know who your audience is.
If you can't figure it out from the words on the page, ask your producer or who hired you.
A lack of connection usually starts with the mindset of the voice-over artist.
If the voice actor doesn't bond with the words and literally lift them off the page, then the listener certainly won't connect fully with the message being told.
Those who record alone in their home studios have to self-direct with no audience, producer or director to help stay connected to the script.
The layers and delivery can become a problem. And the end result is mediocrity at best.
Remember that in voice-over you're not just reading the words.
The words and the voice need to integrate to become a singular experience.
After reading the script, turn it over, and say it from memory. Ask yourself:
  • What's the gist?
  • What's the mood?
  • What's the melody of the copy, or the statement of facts modulating throughout?
Do you notice how some voice-overs sound utterly disconnected when the talent is reading versus speaking?
Or how some just aren't believable when they overly emote or even scream - supposedly getting the point across, when in fact, they're forgetting what they're supposed to be saying?
When you're doing voice-over, you're a salesperson. You've been hired to sell the concept that you actually believe what you're saying, so that the listener will believe you.
Believing in the words is critical. If you're just going through the motions and flapping your gums, stop it! There's no point if you're not worth listening to.
Being alone all day in the studio, talking to no-one in close proximity, is a challenge. But you can make it fun.
It's make believe time to the ultimate degree, and it's time to look into the eyes of your audience. Imagine where they are, what are they doing, and what they look like.
You could post pictures in the booth to help. Imagine the mic is someone's ear, and that you're speaking to that person. And then move closer to add intimacy and warmth. (Watch your levels - no clipping please.)
Obviously, the script must lend itself to this type of read/effect. Many national commercials do.
You can also be farther back from the mic and still have an intimate style read. See what works for the copy.
Remember that mistakes, stumbles and errant breaths are all part of the process, and that you can ruin every take if you are too judgmental and beat yourself up.
Let the voice naturally flow with the words you are giving voice to, and focus all energy into the read. Always keep your audience in sight. There are so many ways to phrase what you're voicing.
Chances are, it'll sound great in playback. Then, picking the best takes will be your goal.
Bobbin Beam is a very active voice talent, based in the San Diego - Los Angeles area, who specializes in projects for broadcast and business. She also writes a very entertaining and informative blog, Bobbin's Blog.
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