Teaching the art of VoiceOver is a lesson in observation and therefore psychology. If you pay attention to how people behave you are well on your way to acquiring this skill and harnessing it to make money in this exciting industry. Basically, voice acting means understanding how we talk in REAL LIFE.
How do we talk in real life? We share ideas, facts, and feelings. Most of it happens so automatically that we barely notice the tools we use and how they shift based on our motivation. The most common tools we use are variances in our pitch, volume, and pace. We also ALWAYS emphasize the point(s) we are making, which has some words stand out over others. An example would be if you called up a friend and said, “Hey do you wanna go on a hike tomorrow?” If you think Hike is the key word you are correct! It’s the newest part of the communication, the main subject. This does not mean the subject is always the key word. If you were ready to start the hike you might say to that friend, “Are you ready yet?” The key there is Ready. Pronouns are often NOT emphasized because they are a given. They are a given because most of the time we are talking to one person, so it’s obvious who You and I are! Yes there are exceptions in group talk, of course. But most communication is intended for one person, and although VoiceOver work can have many listeners, you want it to sound Directed at only one person regardless. It will make that person feel that the message is relevant to them.
Back to those tools. Our inflection, volume, and pacing changes all the time when we speak. Sometimes it is based on circumstances such as whether it is formal or informal. Most often, it is based on our emotions. Let’s break down each tool now based on our emotional states.
Volume: We get louder when we are excited, angry, addressing a group. We get quieter when we are intimate, warm, caring, introspective. This is so important to why we analyze a script in terms of the emotional perspective. Our volume tells the listener a lot.
Pacing: We go faster when we are excited, frantic, not thinking straight. We go slower when we are expressing concern, thoughtfulness, being intentional.
Inflection: Our pitch naturally gets higher when we are excited, friendly, positive. Also when are uncertain. On the flip side, our register is deeper when we are confident, serious, expressing certainty.
These are all nuances that can change from person to person and also with context, but there is some truth to these expressions as well and we have all grown accustomed to reading people with this understanding.
In the end, careful analysis of the script tells us everything we need to know about how to sound.