Wednesday, October 28, 2009

November: Technique Tip of the Month

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone... and Into Someone Else's

Sometimes it's going to happen. You'll fall into a voiceover training rut. Maybe you are getting bored with your voiceover training, maybe you're not practicing, or maybe you're getting too comfortable in your niche. Whatever the case may be, however you really feel about your voice-over training -- the client will hear it loud and clear.

One tool that might help you climb out of your voice-over training rut and get back on top of your game is to realize that voice acting IS acting. Unlike other forms of acting, the only aspect of you that gets captured is your voice, so you have to focus more energy into vocalizing what would normally be non-verbal communication.

It's no wonder you hear about big-name actors who do voice-overs for movies and commercials. They don't necessarily have the best voices in the world, and many of them don't get press recognition for the spot, but the techniques they work on for acting translate easily to voice-overs.

The next time you get behind the mic, notice what the rest of your body is doing while you're reading the copy. If you find that you're not using your body how you would naturally in conversation -- gesturing with your hands, shrugging your shoulders, making facial expressions, etc. -- then try to relax. Being mindful of the mic and how loud your clothes might sound if you're gesturing too wildly, experiment with the rest of your body and see if you can get a different tone or feeling from your voice.

As Mel Allen used to tell his students, "Get your clown shoes on because I want you to sound like a complete jokester this time!" Not that you want to do a "serious" read and a "silly" read for every copy -- you don't! The point is to step out of your comfort zone, see yourself as a character for a script, and become that person.

While your introductory voice-over training was instrumental in helping you find and develop your niche, start to pull copy from voice over websites that challenges you. Learn to do things completely over top. Learn how to speak at the fringes of your good vocal area, not just at the center. Practice being that different person, and think about what mannerisms go with that character. Initially, you'll just find practice material from voice over websites, but after practicing outside of your comfort zone you'll expand your niche in a whole new direction -- whether it's for narration, commercials, or a podcast!

-By: Catherine Marshall

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