Man listening to music on a trainWhen listening to a voice sample, are you able to tell if a talent auditioning for your job makes their living voicing the same kind of delivery required for your project?
There’s something about voice with a read that sings. That’s what happens when you come across a talent working their instrument and primary skill set.
You will likely know a signature voice when you hear it, but just in case you were wondering here are 3 tell-tale signs that the voice you’re listening to has a track record of reading for projects similar to your own.

Signature Voice

In the voice over business, talent have what is known as their “Signature Voice,” the voice they are hired to perform most. Hiring a voice talent who specializes in the kind of work you are casting for will make an audible and professional difference.
Three “signature voice” indicators you can be listening for after hitting the play button include:
1) Confidence
2) Understanding
3) Timing

Confidence

First off, you’ll know a signature voice by the authority it carries.
A voice talent using their signature voice knows where their place in the market is, a critically important distinction that helps them hone their niche and brand as a voice artist.
The voice will sound almost as if you’ve heard it before, its timbre, clarity of purpose and singular vision cutting through the noise.
A signature voice leaves no trace of doubt. The only challenge you’ll have in this department is hiring the right voice for the job based upon the sound you have predetermined for your brand.
From what I have come to understand, a signature voice is not born overnight but developed over years of training, experimentation and wins.
Harnessing the power of a signature voice makes all the difference for a professional voice talent and its frequent use fuels successful careers.
Kamran KhanCalifornia-based voice artist Kamran Khan remarks, “It took me almost five years but I’ve now found my signature voice and have booked at least one gig every single day for the past two weeks straight,”
Knowing who you are and what you’re most suited to as a voice talent is imperative. Khan acknowledges this, saying, “I’ve realized I’m the ‘Conversational Smart Guy Next Door’ that specializes in explainers and presentation narrations AND I’m the authentic Indian accent guy. I have an MBA and was a former engineer and spent quite a lot of time being raised on both continents so those two niches make perfect sense.”

Understanding

Sounding the part is one thing but really sounding like you know what you’re talking about is a whole other ball game.
A voice talent’s comprehension, fluidity and phrasing of a script factor in big time, especially when the goal of a message or script is to engage a target audience in a meaningful way.
Jonathan SteinerFlorida-based voice talent, Jonathan Steiner knows that he has been typecast and has fully embraced it, not just because he knows that he consistently books certain kinds of reads but he also lives them, too.
Drawing upon something similar to method acting to create believable performances, Steiner credits Stanislavski’s system in voice acting as having become the most effective tool his career.
Steiner recently shared with Voice Over Times, “Starting with my first ever voice over project, I often find myself cast in ‘Surfer Dude and Tech Guy‘ roles simply because these roles are an extension of my true self. In my everyday life, I have a passion for kite surfing, surfing and all things tech related. Being able to recall on previous experiences in surfing as well as my education in consumer technology has allowed me to excel as a voice actor and book the roles that best suit who I am.”

Timing

Proper timing is essential and that timing can only be achieved when the first two objectives of Confidence and Understanding are met.
Simply put, timing is packaging words well.
The majority of timing comes down to the actual vocal performance itself followed by minor edits if necessary to remove any breaths, mouth noises or dead air in post-production.
Don LaFontaineAs the late, great Don LaFontaine used to say, a voice talent is in the service of the words.
Think of a voice talent as a messenger.
It is the mission of a voice artist to be more of a vehicle for the words than to direct the focus onto the voice itself.
The words need to be internalized and in your heart.
When the words find a place to settle in, they can be sent forth truthfully and delivered with proper phrasing. In the end, it is all storytelling and the best storyteller’s voice will emerge upon hearing.

How Do You Spot a Signature Voice?

Do you know a signature voice when you hear it? Comment to let us know how you can tell!
Best wishes,
Stephanie
FlickrCC/CarbonNYC

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Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Voices.com. Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her blog serves an audience what wants to grow in their careers as professional voice users, and more specifically, voice actors. Stephanie was recently listed on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Well said. KNOW YOURSELF and BE TRUE TO WHO YOU ARE. No one knows “you” better than Y-O-U. Have confidence in being yourself and use that to your advantage. When you’ve found that sweet spot, you can then begin to understand how “you” work within a script and knock those reads out of the park. Continued Success to One and All.

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