Before embarking on voice acting exercises, do any of these names sound familiar? Mel Blanc, Mark Hamill, Jim Cummings, Hank Azaria, Tom Kenny, Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright. Most likely, you have no idea who these people are. But wait, do you have an idea about Homer, Apu, and Bart from the Simpsons? Have you ever watched Lion King, Looney Tunes, Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles, or SpongeBob SquarePants, the longest-running animated series?
Well, if you have watched these shows and you know some of the characters, you have most likely heard the voices of the people above. These are among the most famous voice actors today and their works are amazing. If you have an interest in voice acting, these are the people to inspire you in your career.
This post was updated in April 2021
Voice Acting Exercises
If you have decided to take up voice acting, you need to invest heavily in improving your skills. You have to develop versatility and flexibility in your voice. This will take a lot of voice exercises and training.
Don’t rush to send demos before you hone your voice skills. If you have an upcoming audition, you have to prepare for the role through intense training. Voice exercises not only improve your voice but also give you the confidence you need to audition and get that role.
If you have a voice-over audition, make sure you research the role to customize voice exercises to suit the part. To succeed as a voice actor, you need to read “copy” using a style suited to the type of voice acting role at hand.
A voice actor must let the words flow naturally and fit with the character provided. You should avoid sounding like you have a paper in front of you and this takes much practice. The true mark of a great voice actor is the ability to adapt fast and provide the voice required without prior exposure or direction.
Luckily, this guide explores the voice acting business and suggests different voice exercises you should try for your audition.
But if you prefer to watch a video instead, click here:
Working in Voice Acting
Voice acting has changed tremendously over the years. It has moved to the mainstream as more high-rated actors now feature in animations and other voice-over acts. From James Earl Jones as Mufasa in Lion King to Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots in Shrek 2, the number of Hollywood high rollers taking up voice-over gigs keeps growing.
Whether you want to train and specialize for roles in show, movie, video game, or commercials, it all starts with proper voice acting exercises. You can work as a voice actor in:
i) Voicing characters: Animation has emerged as one of the most popular technologies in the film industry and marketing. By 2020, the global animation market will reach $270 billion from $259 billion in 2018. Animated production, including films, TV shows, advertisements, and documentaries, are more popular than ever, thus offering voice actors incredible job opportunities.
ii) Ads/commercials: Experienced voice actors are in high demand for commercial production. These adverts are on TV, radio, digital marketing platforms, and cinema.
iii) Narrations: Narrated films and other visual works offer opportunities for voice actors.
iv) Translation: You can also work in voice-over translation to alter foreign language film, television series, or film. Voice dubbing is in high demand. It can transform an otherwise plain art into a fantastic piece.
The range of work in voice acting is hugely varied and can also include training/e-learning, podcasts, video games, audiobooks, live events, awards shows, toys and games, vehicle, and transportation technology, documentaries, phone messages and IVR, promos ad film trailers
Digital media has seen more opportunities emerge for voice actors with better pay. You have to acquire the prerequisite skills to take up such roles. Compared to film and TV acting roles, voice acting is less competitive. However, you must showcase your skills to get that big opening.
You have to send demo reels to prospective clients and attend multiple auditions for roles to get work. One significant advantage of voice acting is that you work as a freelancer which means you control your working hours.
There’s much flexibility associated with the freelance lifestyle and you can also work online for clients across the globe. However, you must be proactive to survive as a voice actor. This means going for as many auditions as you can.
Before every audition, take time to prepare using tested and proven voice exercises.
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Honing Your Skills with Voice Acting Exercises
Now that you appreciate the available opportunities in voice acting, it is time to get down to work. Even the best voice actors have to train as this makes their job easier and refines their performance. While there are people naturally talented with good voices, the greatest voice actors have worked on their brand through extensive training.
When you perform voice acting exercises, you’ll get more control over your voice. Afterward, you will find it easier to give an impeccable performance during an audition.
The following as some of the best voice exercises recommended by professional voice actors:
1. Reading Out Loud Daily
Want to get good at voice acting, start reading out loud for at least an hour every day. It is not the easiest of exercises. But the impact it has on your voice, amazing!
You don’t have to focus too much on voice-over scripts. Instead, pick any written text and start practicing.
From magazine ads to newspaper articles, there’s a lot of available written text for you to use. The idea is to practice your voice and make yourself accustomed to speaking loudly. If you can find someone to give you honest feedback, the better.
2. Tame Your Plosives/Popping Ps
Popping Ps are frustrating as they affect the flow of your voice. To reduce their impact, take a small piece of paper and hold it in front of your mouth.
Now, start saying, “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers” until you reduce the distance the paper flows from your mouth. Make sure you don’t move the hand holding the paper all this time.
3. Pencil Bite Exercise
Despite the clarity of speech been a sturdy craft to perfect, it is achievable through practice. This exercise requires you to hold a pencil and bite it between your teeth as far back as you can.
Once you do this, start reading a text or your script with the pencil in position. After a few takes, remove the pen and now read the script again. It is an amazing voice exercise for improving voice clarity.
4. Take Your Time
You have to train yourself to take it easy when exercising your voice. Take about five minutes to get into character. It is one of the most natural tricks for voice acting exercises.
By getting into character before a session, you will save much time. Also, you’ll give a better performance.
Avoid rushing into each take; this might end up ruining your performance. It will only increase your anxiety and eventually spiral to frustrations.
5. Playback Your Performances
Playback changes everything in voice acting. When you practice, make sure you record every take, and you will learn a lot. If you have a coach or a friend listening, you might not appreciate their input over your performance.
However, when you listen to the playback, you get a new perspective on everything. It is easier to identify your weaknesses and improve on the same. During the playback, ask these questions:
- Is my inflection excellent or bad?
- Which words am I emphasizing? Are they the right words?
- Is my enunciation okay, or should I improve?
- How is my pace? Too relaxed or frantic?
- Can this be read over music and still be heard clearly?
- Can my voice carry over distractions for instance if used as a commercial
These questions will help you get objective feedback on your voice and performance. Playback also helps you identify your voice strengths, which you can then leverage to give outstanding performances.
6. Volunteer To Read At Every Opportunity
Is there an opportunity where someone needs to read some written text? Maybe your niece or nephew’s class needs someone to read a script for them? Whenever an opportunity emerges for you to practice your voice, grab it.
You will not only refine your voice but also get that confidence in front of the mic. Moreover, you will also get an opportunity to apply some of the skills you’ve learned in practice.
7. Listen To Commercials And Try Them
As you level up your up voice exercises, you need to move to another level. Commercials are an excellent place to start when you enhance your voice training.
Listen to commercials ad record them. Practice using the commercials and record your voice. Now, compare the original commercial to your recording and carry out an objective review. This is a great voice exercise to improve all aspects of your voice, including pitch, enunciation, among other things.
8. Visit Your Local Theater And Get On Stage
Got stage fright? Forget all about it because practicing at your local theater is one of the most effective voice acting strategies. You don’t have to practice in front of people, but if you can, drag along some friends to listen to you. This is one of the most effective techniques for voice acting practice.
9. Treat your Voice with Kindness
Your voice is your instrument. Without it, you will not succeed in voice acting. As such, you need to take good care of your voice, even when practicing intensely. How do you do this? Take a look:
- Practice good breathing patterns to prevent unnecessary strain on your vocal cords.
- Hydration is vital throughout the day. Take water with your meals and always have a bottle of water with you.
- Avoid places where you have to shout a lot.
- Whispering can also ruin your voice, so avoid it.
- You should get enough rest (at least seven hours) to rest your vocal cords.
10. Focus on your Grammar
Grammar is crucial in voice acting. A good voice exercise is to stretch your muscles by saying your vowels. For sound “y,” use exaggerated facial expressions. This is an excellent exercise before a session. This exercise helps loosen up your facial muscles. It also helps you to manage tough enunciations or complex combinations of words quickly.
Many people starting in voice acting are tense and forget to breathe. It affects their voice and ruins their recordings. You have to remember that air moving across your vocal cords produces your voice. If you don’t breathe, this strangles the sound.
Failing to breathe also affects the speed of reading as you have to pause along the way to accommodate more breaths. So, take a deep breath, then slowly exhale and smile.
Ready to try your hand at voice acting? Out there, the world is a harsh place. But with these voice acting exercises, you can ace it easily.
The exercises above will prepare you for the rigors of voice acting and refine your voice. You will always have the edge during auditions if you take these exercises seriously.
Go ahead and start using these tips for your daily voice acting exercises.
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