When you do a basic internet search for training techniques for voice overs, you will find a slew of recommendations to deepen your voice, raise your voice, sustain your voice, or change the character of your voice altogether. If you are new to voice acting, it's natural to follow the advice of the voiceover sages who have made it big in the industry.
While the pros have great pearls of wisdom to bestow on us all, don't forsake your common sense to enhance your voice and your career! Not all advice out there is worth following, and many pieces of advice can actually hurt you.
Although I can't give you a complete list of advice that's safe to follow, I can give you some pointers of what not to do:
- Drink whiskey and smoke. Duh, right? Maybe not. DJs used to be [and probably still are in many places] advised to drink and smoke on the job to give their voices resonance. The effects of smoking and drinking help them gain resonance, but they lose their range of pitch at the same time. What most people don't know is that this process happens naturally as you get older. Meaning, the person who drinks and smokes frequently loses the "young sound" so that they get the "old sound" when they're young, and when they are older they have no sound.
- Drink a shot of alcohol to calm your nerves. During the hours before you record, you shouldn't be drinking anything other than water for your vocal cords' sake. If you are actually doing a live recording session with the client, it's definitely a bad idea to drink before you meet them. Even if that one drink let's you relax enough to get a couple good takes, it looks (and smells) unprofessional. You might get through the recording session without a hiccup, but the client will likely call another voice talent for future gigs. Forget about the mouthwash -- instead, invest in yoga classes or a stress ball.
- Vocal cord surgery. This one baffles me. There must have been successful operations in the past, otherwise no one would even think about it ... The bottom line is vocal cord surgery is likely to be expensive, and there is no guarantee what your voice will sound like post-op. If you are unhappy with the quality of your voice and want to work in a different niche, consider taking voice over training classes to enhance your technique. Especially because more and more clients are opting for voice actors with good natural speaking voices to market their products, there's simply no reason to mess with what you were born with.
- "Test" your range to the breaking point. Finding your vocal cords' breaking point will just break your voice! If you aren't able to comfortably work in a low or high range, that means you probably shouldn't be doing it. Stressing your vocal cords won't round out your voice, but it will change the sound of your voice. And you probably won't be happy with the result.
Voiceover techniques that are safe shouldn't make you feel uncomfortable or strain your physical abilities. Trust your common sense, and when you hear something that is too good to be true -- like drinking margaritas will help you get tons of voice jobs -- then it's probably not true! There's no quick fix in this industry, and there's no substitute for hard work.
Have you heard other bogus recommendations? Post them hear so we know not to follow them!