Do yourself a favor when you make a mistake in the middle of reading your voiceover script – take a nice slow breath. Think of your breath as a palate cleanser. You don’t want to jump right back in to your audition in “mess-up mistake mode.” Breathe, and reset your gears. You will now go back in to your performance with a clear mouth and mind. Let go of the anxiousness to instantly correct your mistake because this will continue the energy in the same direction. Breathe. Start again.
The #1 best “weird” VO tip
If you have eyes you have probably guessed the newest fun secret to getting a more relaxed voiceover performance. Yup! It’s lying down. Oh and don’t get me started on how long i spent reading about the grammar rules around lie versus lay. Oh my god. Anyhoo, let’s talk about this one so you have understanding and motivation to use this super-cool technique in your own way. I mean, doesn’t lying down to succeed already sound like a winning proposition? Next I’m going to have to try and come up with a strategy for how eating lots of ice cream helps you gets more voice acting auditions. Ok ok, someone reign me in! This business is just too much fun right? And that’s another strategy RIGHT THERE. A bonus for ya – if you’re not having fun, if you’re feeling the need to be perfect, if you’re “tight”, your voice over auditions will suffer.
Have fun, lots of it, and read on about lying down, the best new cool idea to hit the voice acting stratosphere.
The concept can directly be traced to the same concept in all the relaxation methods out there. Really, it’s the outside-in concept. This means that usually we want to think about something a certain way to achieve certain results, like be happier, or feel confident. But that’s not really how it works. We usually need some outside trigger to help us out and complete the circle. Peter Sellers made this easy to understand in his very own acting technique: He says, “I start with the wig, and i go from there.” Now we know that Daniel Day Lewis and Christian Bale would be shivering in their boots over this, but too bad method men, there’s a new way in town! Peter is essentially saying that changing something on the outside, which is pretty uncomplicated, immediately creates a response for him on the inside. Essentially now his mind easily believes that he IS this character. He saved himself the trouble of digging around in his psyche for an hour trying to find emotional motivation the harder way. He looks in the mirror at this man in this wig and he starts believing something new about himself.
Oh yes, back to the breathing. When we do deep breathing we are essentially slowing down our nervous system and it instantly makes our mind believe we are relaxed. But imagine telling yourself to “calm down.” Never worked when someone else told you to do it either right? You might have even wanted to punch them in the face (no? just me, ok.) But if your body tells you that you ARE calm with actual proof, your brain will follow.
So lying down, yes, will convince your brain, no – trigger your brain into remembering how it feels every single day when this happens. What does it feel? It feels relaxed, like there’s no need to accomplish anything, be anything, no pressure, no perfection. Now is there a better mental state to speak from? I think we can all agree we feel pretty good when we are lying down. It usually means we are about to decompress, or…other stuff. Either way – good things! This means good things coming out of your mouth, good relaxed easygoing vibes. And who wouldn’t want to listen to a person emoting from that state of being? Ok, one caveat here would be if they want a read that’s super energized or assertive. But otherwise this is a great method to try on. Especially for those of you looking to do away with some of that polish in your performance. The students of mine that are the most “perfect” sounding are the ones i assign this exercise to the most. I always have them do homework recording themselves with a before and after read (well, a standing up and lying down read) and the proof is there.
If you want to do a deeper dive into more ways to achieve that CONVERSATIONAL IN VOICEOVER sound, click here.
And otherwise, go lie down you amazing voiceover person with such incredible potential. Just don’t fall asleep, you’ve got work to do 😉
Pronouns and VO
You, I, we….these are words we use pretty much every single day. Which means for the most part they are a GIVEN. They are just a necessary stepping stone to get to the point we are making when we talk with someone. We would never say directly to someone, “Do YOU wanna go for a hike?” It would sound more like this: “Do you wanna go for a HIKE?” We focus on the message, the point, the new information – not the obvious. If someone asks us what kind of burger we like, we don’t respond with “cheeseBURGERS” but rather by emphasizing the NEW part of the information: “CHEESEburgers.”
So next time you see a sentence in your voiceover script containing pronouns, which will be all the time, remember what you really need to emphasize. Don’t let the pronouns steal the spotlight from the actual message.
Bust your limiting beliefs about VO
Forget voiceover, bust your limiting beliefs period, right? Ok, but one thing at a time. Our thoughts become the results in our lives, so it’s important to look at what your thoughts are. Almost as important, if not more so, than your skill. Let’s look at some of the limiting beliefs i have heard from voiceover students, whose very goal is to succeed in voice acting:
There are celebrities booking all the good jobs.
The voiceover market is over saturated.
I don’t have the time or money to learn VO.
I’m not an actor, so I’ll never be good at voice acting.
My voice isn’t interesting enough.
I’m not sure i can do that, eh, I’ll try.
Now, imagine if an Olympic athlete talked this way before a race:
The person next to me has the fastest record in the world, I’ll never beat him/her.
Not helpful right? If you’re making the decision to enter the race, you might as well decide to win it. Otherwise what is the point?
So let’s see how we can simply change the narrative to set us on the right path:
There is so much voice work out there now, especially with the internet creating more and more opportunities every day.
Celebrities only account for 5% of the work out there. It’s the workhorses like me that are needed for so much of the talking!
I can Learn to act. I can learn anything.
Ok, that’s it! It’s not a miracle. It’s not magic. It’s just a choice you make to think in a way that gets you the results you want in your career. Is it possible you are thinking in the negative in case it goes wrong and you are preparing yourself for the disappointment? Perhaps though, by already thinking this way, you are manifesting your own failure. Yes you might fail, but UNTIL THEN, believe that you will succeed. And use the language that supports that.
Thoughts become beliefs, which become feelings, which result in actions, and then Results.
You will be a successful voice actor. You WILL.
What does “conversational” really mean in voiceover?
The idea of sounding conversational has long been important in voiceover work, since long gone are the days of the announcer. It has followed suit pretty similarly with the shift in acting styles in film which went from theatrical to “real.” It’s why i am not one of those “hip artsy types” who just love those black and white “classics.” They feel phony. Ok, back to vo and being conversational. Let’s get to the bottom of that word and the technique that goes along with it.
Conversational means to be talking in a personal, familiar tone with someone, looking them in the eye, actively listening. But most people think the concept stops there. It doesn’t. Not even close.
Think about all the conversations you’ve had in your life. Some were sensitive and serious, some were fun and playful, some were excited, some intense, powerful, etc. Do you see the direction we are headed in? They all meant conversing with someone and truly engaging, but the tone can be completely different for each one.
And this is where script analysis comes in. It’s crucial. So tune in next time. For now, enjoy the variety of your conversations!