What’s the most important voiceover tip in the history of voiceover techniques? It’s actually not a technique at all, and that’s why you will love it. It requires no skill, no practice, no research, no training. That’s right coaches; it seems I’m selling us all short here. But don’t get me wrong, you need all those other layers of understanding. You need training. But this blog is about Permission. Permission to read that voice over script the way you would sing that song in the shower. (er, to some degree….) What holds so many of you back from booking the voiceover job you absolutely know you are right for? Holding back. Period. Let’s discuss.
I have many students arrive to me brand new to the entire voiceover industry. Their notion of a “good” voiceover is one that is read very professionally, very polished, very perfect. Yes those words are all subjective and should be in quotes, but I’m trying to break myself of that habit. I digress. This type of voiceover read is usually in the category of sounding announcery. There are many of you who have been auditioning enough now to know that the trend of sounding like an announcer is pretty much over. Yes there are still exceptions to this such as certain promos, movie trailers, etc….but nowadays the majority of voiceovers are expected to be conversational, natural, non-announcery, off the cuff, loose. This concept of the “professional” voiceover read is certainly the first layer that needs to be shed so that the true YOU in the performance can come through. I liked this backstage article on voiceover secrets which referred to the importance of using your personality, which in turn is the permission you are needing to grant yourself. One of my current students began a few of his reads this very way, as an announcer of sorts. But what’s amazing about him, and you can arrive here too, is that the second he was granted some sort of “permission” from me to let it rip, play with it, and shake things up, he rocked an entirely different kind of performance. More authentic, more compelling, more interesting, more present. The kind that BOOKS THE JOB. To give credit where it’s due, I will say that he was the one to clarify this idea of getting permission. I was the one that clarified that I would ultimately be stealing it and writing about it all over my social media channels. He also does amazingly well at taking technical direction such as raise an inflection, tighten the pauses, hit this word and skate over the others, etc….but this concept of permission has been one of the biggest game changers. What I love about it from a coach’s perspective is that I don’t have to get specific, I don’t have to over-explain, I don’t have to line-read. I just tell them to stop holding back. Let the magic out. Play. Play some more. REMEMBER THEMSELVES. Remember YOUR self in your brightest, most expressive, most lucid, most confident moments. Bring it forth. No one is asking you to “announce” anymore in this industry. They’re asking you to BE YOUR BEST SELF. They’re giving you PERMISSION. Take it.
For a place to start putting this concept into practice, revisit the article on easy ways to think about taking risks in voiceover.