Thursday, May 23, 2024

Listen up! Your voice over job depends on it

I've done voice over for many corporate, radio and TV commercials, explainer videos, as well as documentary style. Nine times out of ten, I have not seen the video BEFORE I record. So you have to listen carefully as the person you're recording for gives you direction. You also must look at the copy beforehand for clues as to how you're going to voice the copy. Much of it becomes instinctive over time, having recorded similar scripts. It's all about making choices. 

I was hired to record a series of voice overs for a new power spray washer. The client suggested I put a little grit in my voice which would work well with the videos. Many voice talents have their own way of interpreting and marking copy before recording. (That reminds me. Always have a pencil with you if you're being directed so you can write any changes on your copy). I also like to look at copy and determine if it's a male or female audience who will be listening to me. Sometimes it's both. Other times, more male than female, or vice versa. Take an auto parts store. We all know women go in to auto parts stores, but it's more of a man thing usually. So the voice style I would use would lean toward gritty, tough, durable, masculine. I certainly wouldn't use a ladies skin care voice for an auto parts voice over. It wouldn't sound right. Look at the copy carefully for clues as to what type of vocal delivery you're going to use. 

 I recorded an on hold message for a popular Pittsburgh pizza place. They've come to me many times for updates on their on hold recording. When I record for them, I put on my "fun and happy" voice; and use lots of uptempo energy. Look for key words in the copy beforehand that you can emphasize. When you're saying the word "delicious," make it sound delicious.  It's what voice over folks call "coloring the words." It will make all the difference in your voice over. Don't just read the words on the page, make them come alive. If you're very new to doing voice over, it takes patience, practice, time, and instinct. Sometimes, a good voice over coach can pull the best out of you if you're struggling to breathe life into your reads or having a mental block. If you were getting paid just to read words off a script, everyone would be doing paid voice over jobs.

If you're being directed to record a voice over, it's important to listen to the input and then deliver what they're looking for. They may ask for multiple takes on the same copy. That's not unusual. Don't get paranoid. They may just want to try various ways before deciding they have what they need from you.

There are times when the session runs longer than expected. Play your patience card. And we've all been in recording sessions where  there are multiple people on the other side of the glass giving direction. I once voiced a 30 second radio commercial for a small town agency, and I believe there were 3 or 4 "creatives" weighing in! Sometimes it can roll like that.

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