I sounded terrible when I started doing Voice Overs

I can’t tell you the amount of times I get told I have a great Voice so it makes sense that I’m a Voice Over Artist. What most people don’t know is that I actually have Voice Overs to thank, for how great my voice sounds now.. Its true my Voice wasn’t at all the way it is right now. If my current self had heard myself then, I would’ve said, “Go home, Voice Over is not for you.”

So many aspiring artists and even some of my clients give the entire credit of a Voice Over Artist’s talent to the Voice. And one might think of it as a compliment but it’s just taking away from all the hard work that artists put in, in perfecting their craft. Yes voice is a crucial aspect and its a gift that not everyone receives. I am really thankful for it but trust me it has just been a baby step among the countless steps towards a successful Voice Over career.

My Voice Over artist friends and folks from the industry who are used to working with artists already get what I’m saying. As for people who are confused and wondering what else could it be apart from having a good voice. I’d like to add to the confusion and say that having a good voice is not even a pre-requisite. 

First of all you need clarity. If your message is not understood, the whole point of doing a Voice Over is void. In fact I know many people (sometimes aspiring artists) who have a decent voice but lack clarity. Many of us are used to talking really fast, I am guilty of having been one. The most feedbacks I got in the beginning of my career were that I speak too fast. So articulation was the very first aspect I worked on.

Second of all, diction. More specifically pronunciation. This is actually the brother of clarity. Apart from saying words clearly, they also need to be said correctly. More and more artists underestimate this when they begin their Voice Over careers. It is so important to be absolutely perfect in the language you’re doing the Voice Overs in. If you’re good at a regional language, focus on that. If English is not your strong suite, its best not to record in it. I get so many requests to do American accent, I just politely decline. You will see below the many aspects to work on so perfecting a language will become another added stress.

Third is Projection. Now this is something that most people are not used to. Compared to how you speak in real life, the projection has to increase doubly or even more on the mic. A friend once wanted to hear herself on the mic. When she heard her voice recording she was quite disappointed with the level. According to her she did put in a lot of effort but a good projection comes with practise and with the help of the next aspect.

Breathing right, helps with a good projection and also create a more fuller sound. Another reason my friend was not quite happy with her sound was because the Voice had not been caught by the mic in its full glory. Only a part of it was captured because the projection was not enough. Since she had never used her voice extensively, the voice was still suppressed. Actors, teachers or any other kind of public speakers will be able to project with ease while others will have to practise a lot more.

Once you’re able to speak clearly and correctly on a good level, Emphasis is another aspect that becomes quite crucial when delivering a message. If you’re not emphasising the correct words, what are you really saying? Yes yes your voice sounds excellent but what should I take from your message? If your not emphasising on the product or service you’re selling, your client is definitely not going to be happy. This is a useful tip not just in Voice Overs, but in life as well. 

Next on the list is Modulation. This one is specifically to keep the audience engaged. All the pointers before this will make sure your message is clear but what about the keeping the listener interested? Modulation involves inflection of the tone or pitch. This is more in-depth stuff that requires more study to understand what pitch shift or stress will work for what kind of Voice Over. With the help of modulation, a voice over can sound high energy or deep and soothing or stylish or sexy or any other way depending on the clients requirement.

Without expression, modulation can only do so much to keep the audience engaged. Expression is a huge addition to any script. It involves many different kinds of expressions like happy, sad, angry, shocked, disgusted, etc. Mind you, its not just about being able to express well but to know which expression works for which text and in what quantity. There have been times when I expressed too much when the client wanted it to be more subtle.

Nowadays, we aren’t used to speaking to each other with a lot of expression so we end up sounding a bit flat on the mic. The level of expression has to be much higher than our day to day life. This actually happened me a lot because I am generally not a very loud person. Hearing other voice overs, listening to more audio stuff like Radio Dramas, Podcasts, etc helped me with expressing better. Because unlike films and drama, the challenge here is to express with just your voice.

Now whatever I’ve listed is only the tip of the iceberg and it may not stand true for everyone. This is purely my perspective based on my own experience. Hope it helps all you aspiring artists. Do leave comments if I have missed out anything. Also follow my blog for more tips. By the way I am going to announce a workshop on becoming a successful voice over artist very soon! Watch out this space 🙂

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