Voiceover performances. That’s the problem right there. The performance part. I recorded someone’s demo a few years back and noticed a very specific pattern. The actor would give these huge over-the-top performances and you could hear it throughout the spot. It shouted, “I’m a voice over, hear me roar!” And roar it did. He eventually got tired, because I kept making him read it over and over again as I wasn’t satisfied. His tired read was not a performance. He didn’t have the energy for that. All he was capable of doing at that point was talking, like a normal human being who’s not “trying SO hard.” Bingo!
When you’re getting ready to record your audition, or go in to the booth for your live one, let go of caring so much. Step out of your own way. Get off the stage. Chances are, if you read like you just don’t care (well, a little bit) it’s going to sound way less slick and salesman-like. When we speak to our friends and family, there’s a comfort level. We have nothing to prove to the people that already love and accept us, and listen to us without doubt. Speak to your audience assuming that, and you will “trick” them into feeling it. Some of the most powerful leaders in our country are successful not because of their great ideas or principles, but because of their oratory skills. They know how to mesmerize, how to sound at once authoritative and FAMILIAR. They speak with confidence, without trying so hard, as if they don’t care so much of your impression of them – because they’re sure of themselves. Those are the people we follow…believe in…..and some of the best actors emulate this. Listen to Robb Pruitt’s voiceover testimonial/demo for evidence.
Practice it. The “throw-away” read. Read as many scripts as you can as if you DON’T CARE. Don’t worry if it sounds extreme. You will know how to adjust it to level ground when it’s for read. You’re smart.