Voice acting, that’s two words, but you’ll be surprised how many people choose to completely ignore the ‘acting’ part of it. So there goes the first of many voice acting tips:
It’s not just about reading, it’s about acting, with emotions and intention, and technique. As a voice actor, whether you’re working on an audio-book, video game, TV commercial, or radio ad, your job is to ‘personify’ the character on the script.
Voice Acting Tips for Beginners
Like every other skill, voice acting can only be mastered with time and practice. But this is not an excuse for you to totally suck as a beginner.
Now if you are an absolute beginner, you might want to consider hiring a voice coach.
Because voice acting seems so simple, a lot of beginners try to wade their way through the craft without any guidance whatsoever. And sure, you can make it by yourself as a voice-actor, but an acting coach will save you a lot of time and effort. Granted, there are some bad voice coaches out there… and we mean baaad.
You don’t want an acting coach who still uses outdated voice-over techniques, so check their experience level, maybe even consult with three or more before you settle on one.
But even with a coach, practice is your best friend as a newbie voice actor.
When practicing, take note of your strengths and weaknesses. Voice acting is a craft made up of different elements. We have simplified these for you here so you can practice each separately:
Mastering the skill of technical voice acting:
Clients will probably hire you because they like your demo, or they received a recommendation. Either way, you need to have the technical (read basic) voice-acting skills before you can land a job. Here are 5 solid voice-acting tips to help you get started:
1. Read, out loud
Probably the oldest trick in the book. Reading out loud sounds different from reading in your head. Even if you don’t know how to interpret a voice-over script yet, reading newspapers (or anything really) out loud could help you perfect your intonation and punctuation techniques.
But don’t just read for the sake of reading; do it while being critical. Here’s how:
2. Listen to the professionals.
Find a commercial you like and record yourself reading it. You should then listen to your recording and note the differences between your voice and the voice-actor reading the commercial.
Really listen for minor differences in tone, pitch, and try to tweak your voice so it matches the professional voice.
3. Understand Tone
When reading a voice-over script, always do it as if addressing someone. Imagine you are talking to your neighbor, best friend, or nephew and talk directly to them, it helps make the message clearer.
Start small, with a simple feeling like anger or boredom, and try to convey it through your tone without necessarily raising your voice. Then move on to other emotions like loneliness, confidence, shock…and practice reading with that feeling in mind.
4. Mind Your Posture
Good posture, whether standing or sitting, allows you to better control your breathing. You can better project your voice if you sit/ stand up straight.
Some guides insist that you must stand up to record good voice-overs, but that is not necessarily true. As long as you have good posture, the tone, clarity, and consistency of the performance will not be affected.
Mastering the skill of intention:
The intention behind the voice-over script will determine its tone.
As stated earlier, voice acting is not as simple as it appears to be. Even with basic voice acting tips, you still need to know the intention behind the words on the script.
What do you want your audience to get from the message?
Do you want them to feel intimidated, motivated to act, or challenged by the message? It’s all up to you.
There is no exact science to doing this… just keep practicing till you get it. This is why it helps to have a voice coach, so you can get real-time feedback and really zoom in on your weaknesses.
Mastering the skill of interpretation:
As a voice actor, you are the bridge between the script and the audience. This is where your imagination comes into play. Interpreting a voice-over script means knowing which intonation to use and where to apply other relevant technical voice acting skills.
Reading and interpreting a voice-over script sounds like a daunting task. Break this task down into smaller parts and notice how much easier it is to use apply these voice acting tips.
Learn How to Take Direction
As a voice actor, you are a blank tool who’s job is to embody the voice-over script in the best possible way. You may have your own idea of how the script should sound, but the client’s idea comes first.
This being said, you shouldn’t limit your imagination just because a voice director restricts you. Taking direction well means creatively interpreting what the client wants and pushing your boundaries in an attempt to deliver the perfect read.
Don’t get frustrated, no matter how long it takes to get it right.
Keep listening to the director, reflect on what they say, restate it to make sure you understand and apply the guidelines to the voice-over.
Voice Acting Tips that Have Nothing to do with Your Voice
Your voice, no matter how talented, can only do so much. The rest of your voice acting success will depend on your recording surroundings among other factors.
Voice Acting Tips Before Recording
Before getting into the booth, make sure you:
1. Read the script, and then read it again, and don’t be afraid to use a pencil.
It’s your copy of the script, so go ahead and mark it to remind yourself when to pause and when to raise your pitch.
2. Warm-up your voice and your body before you begin recording.
Stretch your muscles, flap your lips and whip out a tongue twister or two to get the voice acting juices really flowing.
3. Have a drink of water on standby.
You probably know this already, but you don’t want your mouth to dry up during the read. Nobody wants that. All it takes to avoid this is a hydrated mouth.
Voice Acting Tips When Recording
Your recording equipment and studio should be professionally set up.
It’s obvious that if you have good recording equipment, your voice-overs will sound better, but beware of your microphone’s proximity effect. Speaking too close to the mic is just as bad as placing the mic too far away from your mouth.
So have good equipment and the knowledge on how to use this equipment to elevate your voice-acting.
What Do Clients Look for in a Voice Actor?
Versatility is an essential skill for voice actors, perhaps the most important. Your ability to own the content will impress clients more than your ability to perform a flawless read in the booth.
This is the voice acting tip we are getting to;
Clients want professional voice actors that are easy to work with through the recording, editing, and production processes.
And sure, your technical abilities matter, but your professionalism, confidence, and enthusiasm outside the recording session also matter.
As a voice actor, therefore, you need to impress clients with your talent, professionalism, and attitude towards new voice-over projects. Flexibility, however, doesn’t mean being able to do everything.
Know your strengths and emphasize them.
Voice acting clients tend to look for a specific voice that matches their brand. If you don’t have a niche, find one. Instead of marketing yourself as a voice actor, you should be more direct, as in corporate commercial voice actor or e-learning voice actor.
Besides, focusing on your strengths will allow you to sound more natural when reading the script.
Clients prefer voice actors that can express themselves while sounding natural.
The trick to sounding natural during a read is to…well, be natural. Be as authentic as possible. Sure, you are trying to bring a character to life, but it should feel like that character is you and not some made-up person with your voice.
Finally, to get better clients, work on your demos, portfolio, and online presence.
There is a lot of competition in voice acting, so here’s a tip:
…aim to stand out from the crowd.
You don’t have to have a unique voice to be noticed, although that is one way to go about it. Just be confident when reading, and be consistent in your stellar performance. Clients value voice actors that are reliable, take direction well and fast and are flexible in terms of technique.
It may be the last thing on your mind, but you need to make time to advertise your skills. Let clients know why you are the right choice. If you are an expert in audiobook narration, let them know.
It won’t matter how good your voice acting talent is if you find a client that doesn’t appreciate it. Remember, you choose the projects you want to be a part of, so in as much as the client is in charge, you should also be comfortable working with them.
And that’s all the voice acting tips we have for you today.
As long as you practice daily with the intention of improving your weaknesses, you’ll do well as a voice actor.
Keep at it.