Top 10 Voice Over Skills to Learn

If you are planning to start your career with voice over means, you must have expertise in certain skills that I listed here. Voice over training online is one of the best ways to acquire these skills. Here I gave an overview of all those skills which will provide you with some ideas.

Consistency

In voiceover, consistency is a highly valued skill. If you’re consistent in your volume, energy, pacing, articulation, characterization and your eye-brain-mouth coordination, you’ll be every director’s dream, because you’ll be a voice actor they can rely on to deliver what they want every time.

Cleanliness

This only partly means you have to shower before a session. Cleanliness refers to mouth noise, and if you have a lot of it, you may have a difficult time getting work in voiceover. Some people are blessed with minimal mouth noise–they’ve just inherited a genetic gift that makes saliva a non-issue. But most narrators have some level of mouth noise: those glottal stops, clicks and smacking sounds.

Conversational

Being conversational in voiceover isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes an innate ability to lift words off the page effortlessly, as if you’re speaking extemporaneously (because you’re an expert, right?). It means reading (and speaking) at conversational speed–the typical pace that we speak in everyday conversations. This skill is the result of not over- or under-articulating, and is key to engaging the listener and maintaining their attention.

Chop Chop

Okay, this was my lame “C” phrase for being quick (I could have written “Cwick”, but that would’ve been much lamer). Speaking fast is, in many situations, as essential skill in V-O. It becomes readily apparent in a commercial, where sometimes you’re supposed to squeeze 40- seconds of copy into a 30-second time frame (I call this “shoe-horning”). The ability to get through copy rapidly, but not at the expense of clarity, is a crucial skill that, if you haven’t mastered, you need to develop.

Clarity

A voice actor’s articulation has got to be impeccable. Each word needs to be distinctly understood, not swallowed, mumbled or garbled. An actor needs to make sure that they’re balancing their enunciation between over-articulation and under-articulation. We don’t want to over- enunciate, or we won’t sound conversational–we’ll sound like pompous asses. We certainly don’t want to under-enunciate, or we’ll sound stupid or lazy or both.

Connected

Being connected to what you’re reading is vital to your performance and the believability of your interpretation. A professional narrator always sounds like they’re intrinsically interested in what they’re talking about, regardless of whether they are. I always pose the question: if you’re not enthusiastic about what you’re talking about, why should the listener be interested in what you have to say? Being connected also means literally being physically connected to the page, with your eyes scanning ahead to make sure you’re moving through the copy or text without tripping or stumbling.

Cold Reading

This skill is a must-have for long-form narration, particularly in the areas of e-Learning modules, instructional CD-Rom narration, and non-fiction audiobooks. If you’re a busy voice actor, you don’t have time to pre-read dozens or hundreds of pages of text before you take on a project. The ability to cold read text will save you a lot of time in the studio, not to mention a lot of editing time.

Coordination

I referred to this under consistency and cold reading, and this is the mental muscle memory that develops when your eyes take in the words on the page, make the connections in your brain and come out of your mouth. I call it “eye-brain-mouth coordination,” and it’s a skill that voice actors develop after voicing thousands of pages of copy or text over a number of years.

Control

Successful voice actors are always in control–of their voice, that is. They can control their pitch, their volume and their breath. They control their pitch by understanding intonation–realizing that there are many musical applications to the spoken word. They control their volume by understanding that volume, for the most part, has to be consistent–it’s their intensity that varies throughout a read.

Characterization

Any kind of voice acting that requires characterization requires acting, and actors understand what goes into giving a solid performance. Many of the skills I mentioned–consistency, conversationality, being connected–in addition to the acting skills of believability, authenticity, emotionality and interpretation–are immensely important in telling a compelling story.

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