Staying nimble in this uncertain day and age is one of the keys to success. Here at the Bunny Studio, we’re always on hand to help aspiring voice actors out with tips and tricks that can make you a better voice actor.
Voice acting, we believe, is a timeless gig that will only grow in popularity. The job perks are many, and while there are definitely downsides, the market for voice is only growing as people demand for more and more content.
But we can never really have enough of a good thing, can we? So here are even more voice actor tips for bringing out the best voice actor in you:
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Interested in the job and wondering where to begin?
Tip#1: Don’t let a speech impediment hold you back! Did you know that Samuel L. Jackson used to stutter? Yet his iconic voice is one of the most recognisable voices today. He overcame his stutter through practice, and you can too. If you’re really keen on becoming a voiceover artist, you will find that, through practice, voice and breathing exercises and therapy, most speech impediments are actually treatable.
Tip#2: Read out loud, a lot. As a voice actor, you’ll be reading and interpreting scripts. But you won’t want the performance to sound at all like you’re reading. So the key to this is practice. Lots and lots of of practice. Reading out loud hones your ability to read and perform at the same time.
Tip#3: Invest in a coach. There’s a ton of free resources out there that teach you, step-by-step how to become a voice actor. However, nothing beats the advice and experience of a real life voice training coach. They will be able to tell you what is needed for different reads, what kind of work suits your voice, your weaknesses and what you need to do to get better.
Auditions are your chance to show your clients you’re the best choice! Here’s how to make the most of it:
Tip#1: Watch your pronunciation. It’s something that is easy to overlook, but it might cost a you the gig. Names of cities, countries, streets, businesses and products are all integral. Clients rarely take it well when a voice actor mangles those words. And it doesn’t sound professional. Spend some time researching and asking questions if you don’t know how to pronounce something, so you get it just right during your audition.
Tip#2: Study the script. No matter how many gigs you’ve got under your belt, don’t make the mistake of assuming you know all there is to know. Treat each script with care and respect. If certain words are bolded or capitalised or italicized, you might want to give them some emphasis. If the tone of the script is conversational, it’s probably a mistake to do a very sales-y read.
Tip#3: Send two takes. Do a straight read of the script (taking into account all the requirements) and then feel free to put a different spin to it and send over that take as well. If the casting agent or creative director likes a voice actor, having different takes that show range and variety could be what seals the deal.
Tip#4: Use the character description as a lead in. A lead-in is a word or phrase that is not in the script, but helps you bounce into the performance. It helps you warm up, inhabit the character and find your momentum, before you settle into the script. It’s important so that you don’t sound nervous or hesitant during the first few sentences. A good lead-in to use is the character description. Say they’re looking for a sassy grandmother, aged 55-65. So you can use a lead-in like “I might be a 60 year old grandma, but I won’t take no nonsense from no-one! I’ve lived a big ol’ life but I’ve still got all my teeth and I love to dance!”
Perfecting Your Voice Over Performance
You want to sound the best you possibly can during your performance. Here’s how:
Tip#1: Yawn a lot. You already know that you should be warming up your vocal chords before a performance. But here is a tip from the living legend Morgan Freeman, that may seem bit odd. He says “If you’re looking to improve the sound of your voice, yawn a lot. It relaxes your vocal chords. As soon as they’re relaxed, the tone drops. The lower your voice is, the better you sound”.
Tip#2: Observe your jaw, neck and shoulders. Staying loose and relaxed is much easier said than done, especially when the pressure is on to perform. But if you’re physically tense, that will definitely cramp your style and your performance. So relax your jaw (we’re not always even conscious of clenching it). Lift your shoulders, back and chest to get more air into your lungs. If you find that your voice sounds thin, it might mean the cave of your throat or mouth is not open wide enough. Try imagining a large egg or something round lifting your soft palate to open the back of your throat.
Tip#3: Use your face. Say it with a smile, a frown, use your face to express what your character is supposed to be feeling at the moment. Reading with a straight face will guarantee a bland performance. Remember, a voice actor is first and foremost, an actor.
Tip#4: Try talking to a child. If you need to sound friendlier, more enthusiastic and just more conversational, imagine that you’re talking to a child.
Tip#5: Slow down. Unless your script specifically calls for a fast read, it’s better to take a bit of time and make sure each word is clear and well enunciated. Remember, what you have to say matters.
Tip#6: Incorporate vocal tics. A good voice and enunciation is a great start. But when you’re a pro it’s a good idea to find ways to differentiate characters, giving them unique voices. One way to do this is to incorporate vocal tics or impediments.
Sell, sell, sell
Your voice and your ability to perform is your product. It’s your business now to turn it into a marketable venture.
Tip #1: Understand the product you’re selling. Make no mistake. If you’re a voice actor, you’re in sales. No matter if the gig you booked is a commercial, an audiobook, a movie, you have to sell something- a product, a story, a character. Even if you don’t believe in the product, it is your job to make sure that you do. Better still, if you’ve read the script but don’t feel like you can believe in the product, it might be best to turn the job down.
Tip#2: Learn to sell yourself. This is really hard, not just for voice actors, but for most people. It feels a bit too much like tooting your own horn isn’t it? Yet, the same principle that applies to the products you’re selling applies to you as well: If nobody knows about you, they cannot hire you. Like all things, the more you do it, the more comfortable you are with it.
Tip#3: Understand that the hustle is real. While there are lots of freelance voice actor sites nowadays that make getting jobs seem easy, the only way to truly build your business is by direct marketing. Voice over may seem like a glamorous gig that you can basically do in your pyjamas, but fundamentally it is a business. So that means creating a brand, an online presence for your voiceover services, cold-calling, emailing, networking and building relationships with your clients; all while auditioning, pitching and recording. You’ll be your own boss, but you’ll have to put in the hours.
Here’s a voice actor tip that’s applicable no matter where you are in your journey. Be confident. If you’re not, you won’t be able to sell yourself or your performance. If you have trouble with this, find ways to instil confidence in yourself- use daily affirmations, meditation, tell yourself to your face in your mirror how awesome you think you are! You really do have to be your own cheerleader.
Here at Bunny Studio, we’re always on the lookout for great voice over talents. If you’re an aspiring voice talent looking for work, apply now to be a Bunny Studio Pro!