High Reward, Low Risk Way to Develop Your Voice Over (and Other) Skills
by Mark N. Lewellen
Your success in voice-overs depends on several factors. The ability to communicate well is an important skill in both business and in life. As Lee Iacocca says, "You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't get them across, your ideas won't get you anywhere." Companies and advertisers always need people who can orally advocate their ideas or promote their products clearly and effectively.
Where can you gain expertise in practicing the verbal communication skills needed for successful voice-over work? Try Toastmasters International. Toastmasters is a non-profit (inexpensive), worldwide (popular) and educational (learn by doing) way to perform public speaking and practice voice-overs in a high reward, low risk setting. Experienced professionals and beginning speakers alike can benefit from the practical, face-to-face program that is the hallmark of Toastmasters.
Although its members are mainly known for developing public speaking expertise, many other important personal and business skills are also gained by attending and participating in the organization. How to be an effective listener, receiving positive feedback and running an effective meeting are all practiced regularly. One of the tenets of Toastmasters is that everyone who attends a meeting is given a chance to speak. This will provide you with many opportunities to develop and expand your voice-over talents.
When practicing your verbal skills, you should be aware that a good voice should be balanced and contain a combination of pitch, volume and rate. The rate of your speech is measured in words per minute and is typically in the range of about 130-160 words per minute. The volume of your voice should vary throughout your voice tracks. The pitch of your voice is another variable you have at your disposal. The one thing you want to avoid at all costs is going on and on in a monotone voice.
Believe it or not, there may be times when you don't want to speak. Pauses and silence can be a powerful technique when used properly. Attending and participating at Toastmasters meetings will give you tremendous practice in using all of these verbal techniques. Beginning with the modules in the Competent Communicator manual, Toastmasters will challenge you with such verbal projects as Vocal Variety, Persuading with Power, and Inspiring Others.
There is still more; not only will you gain valuable experience and confidence in your verbal skills, you will also be recognized for your efforts. After you complete all ten projects in the basic manual, you will receive a Competent Communicator (CC) certificate, which you can frame and display on your wall. Your employer will also receive one if you wish. As a final benefit, Toastmasters is a great place to network and meet new people from all types of businesses and walks of life. Some of them are bound to need voice-over talent such as yours. It's a win-win situation!