One great way to work on your voice technique is to have some fun playing with volume. Maybe you have three different volumes. You have medium, you have soft and then you have very loud. When you apply those three volumes to each of your voice pitches and then to each of your emotions, you have immediately tripled the amount of sounds that you can produce. For example, think about how different an emotion like sad can sound at different volumes. If you maintain a sad tone but bring up the volume, you can deliver a sense of desperation, perhaps, to the read. If you read the line at a quieter volume, however, you may find that it sounds more like you have given up. It really is amazing what you can do once you start experimenting with volume on top of the emotion and pitch you have already applied to the script. Experimenting in this way will give you the chance to see what your voice is really capable of and discover all the sounds you never knew you could make.
As you’re reading the paper in the morning, try doing it at different volumes or pitches. Maybe all day you say, I’m only going to speak in my upper register (pitch) today and in a low volume. This is really fun if you’re visiting places where people don’t know you, because they don’t know that you don’t really speak that way. Therefore, you can go around all day talking in a way that is completely different from your regular volume and pitch, and no one will know that this is not really your general way of speaking.
Playing with your voice and figuring out all the different ways it can sound comes in handy not only when you are dealing with different types of scripts but also when you are being directed. Having these different sounds to pull out of your pocket can make all the difference when the director asks you to do something new or fresh with the script. It’s a lot of fun once you start working with the different ways your voice can sound. In working with these techniques, you’ll be amazed at what you can do when you just get out of your own way and have fun with it. Don’t feel intimidated or inhibited.
Another great thing to do is to use a mirror to see what your face is doing. This is one of the techniques Lani Minella uses for her character voice students. She has them do their voices in the mirror so they can make note of what their faces are doing. By using a mirror, they are able to answer questions like: Are my eyebrows crinkling up? Is my nose wrinkling up? Are my teeth sticking out in the bottom or am I pulling my neck back? What are my shoulders doing? Are they slumped when I'm playing an old guy? Are they squared when I'm playing somebody who exudes confidence? Plus, the all important question, how is my physical appearance affecting my voice and visa versa? Figuring out how your body language interacts with your voice is an incredibly helpful tool in dictating how your voice will sound.
-Lisa Foster, Voice-Over Talent, Coach, and Producer