I have a voice over tip for you that will turn the most ordinary voice into something else: try something new. That’s right, it is that simple. How else will you find a new angle on your very human sound unless you try to do something different with it? There are many ways to develop your “character” of course, and we are going to focus on a technical strategy this time as opposed to a more organic acting method like the one I discuss in an earlier article about voiceover character commitment.
Creating a character can be a left brain or right brain activity. Let’s focus on the left brain today. The best way to try and experiment with your voice is to do some simple voiceover exercises. They put you in touch with the different ways that your brain and mouth work together to come up with sounds. For example – tell your brain to start talking out of the side of your mouth and you instantly sound sarcastic, mumbled, or perhaps like a secret agent, depending on your execution of the exercise. One simple change like that and you have adjusted your normal way of “being.” You are one step closer to a character and one further step away from sounding like Jane or Bob. Perhaps it’s a simple as raising or lowering your register. Perhaps you try stuttering, or laughing at your own jokes, or saying “right?” after every statement of fact. All these little things will eventually become tools for coming up with an original character who has his or her own set of quirks, just like the characters we know and love already. Start watching cartoons and noticing the things that these characters do. Try and notice the little nuances in their speech – not so much what they say but how they say it. How high, how low, how hard or soft, how sweet or sinister, where the inflections are being places, etc…. Now play with your own possibilities. The voice actress Connie Terwilliger has come up with some great voiceover exercises on her site that I think can be very useful for developing your own ideas for an original voice. Their intentions might be more for warm-up or control, but you will notice as you are doing them that you are also being invited to play with, and discover, your own unique voiceover potential.