Want to Standout As A VoiceActor? Read these tips from an Audio Engineer!
As an audio engineer, I’ve had the privilege of working with some fantastic voice-over talent. I’ve also had the displeasure of working with some not-so-amazing voice talent.
The difference between the two is often night and day—and it all comes down to preparation. If you want to be a standout voice-over artist who gets repeat work, then you need to learn and implement these five hacks I’ve seen the best vocal artists repeatably do.
Are you ready to level up your VO game?
#1 Know Your Voice
As a voice-over artist, you need to know your voice inside and out. This means preparing for every recording session and understanding your voice’s natural capabilities and resonance.
The best way to do this is to record yourself frequently in your own home recording space to identify areas of improvement and work on perfecting your craft.
One of the biggest challenges of any vocal artist is hearing themselves on a recording. It never sounds like what you think it should sound like.
If you haven’t trained yourself to be comfortable with your recorded voice, then your confidence in a studio is going to be crushed on the first playback.
This problem is more apparent when you hear playback on professional studio monitors with their brutally honest detail.
Speaking of brutal honesty, you must humble yourself and accept that you have unique vocal tics and behaviors that may not come across well on a recording.
Things like lip licking, mouth smacks, loud breaths, and dry mouth sounds. These tics will make your recording sound amateur and are distracting to hear. . While some excellent modern recording tools can reduce these noises, this takes extra post-processing, costing more time and money. This could cost you more jobs if someone else is paying for your work.
You must study and learn the good and the bad within your voice. Only then you’ll be able to retrain how you use your voice to produce clean and professional recordings. If you do this, you’ll be an artist who stands out above the rest.
#2 Know Your Rhythm
Your rhythm is key to making your voice sound natural and believable. While each performance will require different pacing and emphasis on the words within the script, you want to ensure you’re keeping an even beat.
Once you’re in the recording studio, it’s common to get nervous. After the nerves kick in, it’s easy to speed up your lines, get extra breathy, lose clarity, and deliver a tense-sounding performance.
Practicing with a metronome can help you find the rhythm in your performance while keeping your pacing consistent. It also allows you to find the space between the words, which, believe it or not, is as important as the words you speak.
Remember, rushing through your lines will make you sound unprepared and sloppy. So take the extra effort to understand your rhythm, and you’ll deliver a more confident and professional performance.
#3 Know Your Technique
Great vocal technique is a must for voice acting. Whether you’re doing commercial work or character work, your delivery must be clear and articulate.
You must be over the top when performing your lines for them to jump out of the speakers. If you try using your normal day-to-day voice, you’ll mumble words, consonants won’t pop, and vowels will blend like word soup.
However, having excellent enunciation, perfect vowel shapes, and articulated consonants isn’t the only part of excellent technique.
You have to know how to take care of your voice as well. Proper warm-ups, not drinking alcohol before or during a session, avoiding fatty foods, and using the diaphragm are critical for your long-term vocal health. If you rely on VO work as a career, you must learn how to protect your “money-maker.”
Excellent vocal technique ensures you’ll be ready to deliver your lines professionally when you step into the studio. It also will help you perform enough takes without suffering vocal fatigue.
If you can master this, you’ll be well on your way to being a legend in the studio, at least according to this audio engineer. 😉
#4 Know Your Emotions
What separates a good voice-over artist from an outstanding voice-over artist is how well they can add emotion to their performance.
You could have the best rhythm, technique, and understanding of your voice, but if you can’t speak in a way that connects with a listener, your performance will sound uninspired and flat.
Even if you’re reading a technical script for an industrial video, you want to ensure your voice shows some emotion with the material.
Take a moment and think about how the words make you feel and try to channel that into your performance. This will help give your recording some life and make it more believable and captivating.
If you can master this, you’ll be able to take any script, make it your own, and deliver it in a way your clients love.
#5 Know Your Audience
Remember that as a voice-over artist, you’re not just speaking to hear yourself talk—you’re speaking to be heard by someone!
It should go without saying that your performance needs to be tailored to the intended end-listeners. After all, they’re the ones you’re being paid to connect with.
For example, if you’re recording a children’s book, your performance will be very different than if you’re recording a corporate training video.
Your energy, inflection, and tone will change depending on the audience. You need to be aware of this before you even start recording.
Once you understand your audience, connecting with them through your performance will be much easier.
Envision yourself in their shoes. What are they expecting to hear with the message you’re delivering? Are they looking to be informed or entertained?
Knowing your intended audience will inform how you approach the other hacks in this article. When you master this, you’ll take on projects that are right for you and deliver slam dunks that will get you repeat work.
The Bottom Line
Being a voice artist takes skill, practice, and dedication. But if you implement these five hacks, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a standout performer in no time!
What are some hacks you’ve discovered that have leveled up your VO career?
Please let us know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!
Brad Johnson is a musician and producer from Southern California. When he isn’t spending time with his wife and kids at the beach, he is helping songwriters and musicians at Song Production Pros.