The industry is brimming with immensely talented voice actors who are full of energy and unique abilities.
Whether you have incredible natural talent or not, you’ll need to develop your voice acting abilities to reach your full potential. One of the best ways to nurture your talent as a voice over professional is to take acting classes, but it doesn’t stop there.
Things like practicing and reading aloud are key to finding and recognizing your own voice, as well as unlocking future potential. Even for those who are naturally talented, having a great voice is not enough. You need to develop versatility and knowledge to stand out from the crowd.
We’re going to cover how to recognize your talent and answer the question: How do I know if I have talent?
3 Voice Acting Tips for Beginners
1. Get to Know Your Voice Through Voice Acting Practice
If you’re a beginner voice actor, you must take time to understand the qualities and capabilities of your voice. To get familiar with your own unique vocal attributes and abilities, start by reading and recording your voice.
There are many benefits to reading aloud, including challenging your intonation and becoming familiar with the sound of your own voice. Plus, you’ll rarely run out of source material: from books and magazines to lists of ingredients found on food items in your cupboard—even the fine print in advertisements—all text is fair game for your reading aloud practice!
- Read a children’s book out loud and create a different voice for each character.
- Read articles from newspapers, magazines, and blogs, changing your tone from informative to conversational.
- Pick an item out of your cupboard and read the list of ingredients, or pretend you’re narrating a commercial for the product.
- Read a personal passage, like a journal entry, to get a sense of how you sound when you’re simply being ‘you.’
Then, record yourself while doing any of the above. You can use any number of recording apps to capture your voice. Remember to record in a quiet space so you can begin to listen critically.
The playback can reveal a lot. While performing, you may discover you have a tendency to speak lower than you normally would in day-to-day speech, you may notice your breathing pattern, your starts and stops, and many other qualities a new-to-voice-acting speaker has. Once you hear them, you can begin to work on them by making them an intentional part of your voice over skills, or by managing or reducing them if you feel they make you sound less believable.
2. Learn and Practice the 5 Basic Types of Characters in Voice Acting Roles
While there are countless voice over roles that you can take on, learning the five basic types of character roles will help to get you off to a good start.
Practice trying on these different character roles when you are recording yourself. Depending on your professional background, you may find some of these roles to be more natural for you than others. You’ll discover so much about your voice and your talent, as well as develop a method of acting that will help you become a better voice over performer.
Characters in Voice Acting Roles:
When teaching someone, for example, in a corporate training video or children’s game, the voice over best suited for this kind of project is a straightforward, educated, and instructional voice. The role of this particular voice talent is to teach or provide information to fulfill a specific goal or purpose. Anyone who has had the opportunity to run a class, guide presentations, or has managed a team will likely find this role comfortable.
Projects requiring a more casual approach often benefit from relatable, genuine voice overs. These are referred to as ‘real person’ voice overs—think of your friendly next door neighbor, your high school art teacher, or someone you’d want to be friends with. This character is homegrown, sensible, and friendly, with a touch of familiarity, providing a more intimate interpretation of the script that instills trust. While this role may seem like it should suit everyone, it is harder than one might think to read a script and still sound like you’re having a regular conversation with a friend or loved one. Former radio personalities tend to need help in this area because they’ve worked for so long in an industry that’s challenged them to change the timbre of their voices to sound like an announcer (see more about the announcer below).
A spokesperson can be on-camera or off-camera, depending on the medium you are using. The role of a spokesperson is generally played by a confident, charismatic person able to promote a cause, product, or service with ease and authority.
A voice over of this nature needs to be driven, optimistic and assured. If you’ve ever been in sales, these traits probably sound familiar. Many people who gravitate to voice overs from sales positions tend to feel right at home in this role.
Storytelling is where the Narrator is most at home. Omniscient, unbiased, courteous, and honest, a narrator’s job is to provide an audio landscape for a listener, briefing them on background information, posing questions, and providing solutions as they guide their audience through a program or documentary.
The most important characteristic of the Narrator is that they can communicate clearly and engagingly. If people hang on to your every word while listening to you tell a story, then this is likely your comfort zone.
The announcer, often heard live at events, on commercials, in promos, or introducing segments for radio or podcasts, is a product of the broadcast age, most celebrated at its height in the Golden Age of Radio and early television broadcasts.
Announcers can introduce an idea and assertively make a call for action at the conclusion of a commercial advertisement or short video. If you were in radio broadcasting and you’re now pursuing a career in voice over, then you may find this voice over character fits you like a glove.
3. Practice Voice Over with Sample Scripts Regularly
Regular practice—especially with sample scripts—will help you maintain and improve your voice acting skills. Sample scripts come equipped with a creative brief, much like what you would see in a voice over job posting.
They give you a specific age, role, and style in which to deliver the script. All voice actors, no matter how long they’ve been in the profession, practice their craft using sample scripts.
Sample voice over scripts also allow you to explore and try different voice over styles, to see if they actually reflect the intended style and tone of the script.
For example, if you think you can do an announcer role, record yourself voice acting as an announcer and play it back to see if it hits the mark. You can practice doing this with multiple scripts, roles, and styles, to fully understand what you can achieve as a voice actor. This way, you won’t miss out on voice acting jobs that suit your voice acting abilities.
Uncovering Your Potential as a Voice Actor
While these three tips are a great starting point, it can be difficult to get a true sense of your potential, areas of improvement, and special vocal qualities when you’re operating alone.
Any voice actor, pro or beginner, can benefit from getting guidance and feedback from a voice over coach. A good coach can help you explore your potential, as well as help you take your talent to the next level.
In the next chapter, learn about the different forms of voice over training to see which one suits your voice acting needs.