Join trained voice artist, actor, and singer Sarah Troyer as she brings us through letters A to G of how to approach your scripts effectively. From A (Audience) to G (Gamble) Sarah walks us through a journey of how you can improve your voice over reads. Sarah brings her broad spectrum of experience and expertise on this episode that you for sure won’t want to miss!
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Hey everybody, my name is Sarah Troyer and I'm a voice actor as well as a voiceover coach. I have been teaching voiceover for the past three years, but I've been doing voiceover for the past 10. And before that there was about 10 years of film and television work. Before that, I was doing theater and musical theater and training with the Royal Conservatory of Music Training voice for eight years. Now on top of teaching voiceover and doing voiceover, I am also running workshops with casting directors and starting to dip a toe into casting. So you can pretty much say I just love voiceover. I love doing it, I love talking about it. I love helping people with it. So that brings us to today. Let's talk about the ABCs A voiceover. I really like teaching this to my students. I think it's a really great tool.
It's a little checklist essentially to help you dive deeper into the script. Little reminders of things you can add to your performance, you know, things like that. I just really wanna take everybody to the next level with their performance and I think the ABCs is a really great start. So let's get into it. I'll quickly say that, don't worry, we're not doing a full 26 letters. It's only A to G. But yeah, let's start with a, A is our audience. Now we can think of this in two different ways. Audience can mean the demographic of the show, so who's watching the show? This is important because if it's a kid show we gotta tweak or acting a little bit. Usually kid shows are a little bit more over the top and educational versus, you know, shows like 16 or total drama island things like that where it's totally hitting that teenager, maybe young adult phase.
So he can be a little bit wacky, a little bit goofier. And then yeah, we obviously have shows like Family Guy or human resources, things like that, that are for adults and we can really push our improv with those shows. So nailing down who is the demographic of the show is important. The other way we should think about audiences. Now within this script, who is my character talking to? How many people are there? Are they close to me? Are they far away? This is just gonna come into performance as well as just vocal technique, right? If your character's talking to a crowd, you've gotta project your voice. They're only talking to one person and they're close by. You know, we can probably lighten the voice a little bit. And then again, yeah, who are they talking to? Is it their best friend, their mom, a teacher, somebody they don't know, right? We're gonna, we gotta alter our performance just a little bit. Be honest to how our character feels about that other person that we're interacting with. Okay, onto B, which is backstory. For those of you who have an acting background, you're probably used to writing these very long backstories to your character. That is helpful time and place. And I always encourage people for your backstory analysis. Really try to take things outta the script. Don't add your own stuff. You wanna stay true to the story
As as the character. But I like to think of backstory as what just happened. And we can apply this to our commercial scripts as well as our animation scripts. This gets us thinking about what happened in the previous scene or you know, for commercial scripts, if we go to make up a little scene so we feel more conversational, that's gonna help us decide where our character is emotionally. Starting off, I like to use the example of, you know, the scene starts with your character walking into their bedroom, shutting their door, and kind of leaning up against it. Now what just happened is important. Did they just go through a breakup? Well, when they come through that door, they're gonna be very upset. Or did they just get their first kiss and they're coming through the door and they're absolutely in love? It's important to know where we start a scene.
We gotta think about what happened just before it. Moving on to see we have character. So this is discovering who your character is. What is their personality like? Are they positive or negative? How do they talk? Do they talk quickly? Are they very excitable or do they talk very slow? Other things to think about is their vocal placement. What kind of voice you wanna give them? Their profession, their objective. They're super objective in life. Some people just wanna be like, some people wanna defeat the bad guy. Some people wanna be the bad guy. You know, the rebel. We can get into archetypes a little bit. Really thinking about who is your character and how does that change the way that they approach the world, how they interact with the world. Okay, next up is D, which is desire. And in the acting world, we sometimes use the word objectives, but overall this is just what is driving your character?
What does your character want? Your character wants something in every scene. It might change, there might be multiple objectives going on at one time, but what do they want? What is pushing them? This will also lead you to thinking about their tactics. How do they go about getting what they want? And then also thinking about obstacles or conflict. What is coming up against them so they can't get what they want? Now one of my favorites is E, which is our energy. And this can be broken up into three subcategories. We have physical energy, emotional energy, and psychological energy. Now physical, we wanna make sure we are performing the right physicality. So do not read a script, plain and simple. If your character is running, jumping, dodging bullets, fighting people, you know, getting hurt, tripping over things, we need to vocalize that. So that ties into a term called efforts and that's just the vocalization of our physical movement.
So definitely make sure you're reading your scripts all the way through and vocalizing any physical movement that's happening in the scene. Now, physicality can also play into what do you as the actor have to do with your body to fully get into character? You know, with some vocal placements, you have to alter how you hold your mouth. If she's a very old lady, oh, you can't see me, but I'm all like hunkered over , we can really get into our body. So that's two ways of thinking about physicality. Emotional is pretty straightforward. How is your character feeling in the moment? Are they happy? Are they sad? Are they confused? Are they frustrated? And this can tie to another term called pre-life. So adding the vocalization of all those little human moments. You know, when we're frustrated, we might go, Ugh. And if we're excited, we might go, Ooh, if we're laughing , add a chuckle to it.
If they're thinking, Hmm, so emotionally, what's going on with your character? And try to vocalize that if you can and if it fits. Okay, last up in the subcategory of energy is our psychological energy. I really like this one because it makes us look at subtext, what is not being said in this scene, but is something that everyone is aware of, audience as well as characters. An example I really like to use with my students is just think of somebody at a party and they meet someone that they don't like, but they have to try to be pleasant. So they've got a big smile on their face, but they're going, I hate you, right? We gotta think about the subtext cuz sometimes it's under there. We see that a lot with romance, right? Nobody's saying anything, but there's this passion building between two characters.
So try to be aware of that. The, the subtext, what is not being said in a scene? All right guys, we are almost there. Second to last one is our focus. Forget and have fun. And this is more of just your actor's process. So the focus is where I really want you to read your script, read it out loud because that's how
you connect your brain to your mouth muscle. Get really comfortable with it. Read that script 20 to 30 times out loud. Get very, very comfortable with it. Do the work, do the script analysis so that characters fully embodied, that will help you be able to forget. And then just have fun. And I know that sounds silly, forget, but I want you to not have to think while you're performing. You've already done all that pre- work and so now you can just be in the moment and have fun and that leads to our fun focus.
Do the work so you can forget about it and just be in the moment and have fun. Okay guys, we made it to the very last one. It is G and it is our gamble. So with that, I just mean I don't want you guys to play it safe. Don't just give people what you think they wanna hear. And this applies to both commercial scripts as well as animation. Do your script analysis, know the world, know the character and take that to the next, you know, 50% up it up, the energy, up the choices. Make strong choices. How do they laugh? How do they chuckle? How do they make effort noises when they talk to certain people? What is that relationship? You just take everything to the next level. So many people play it safe, you know, in the commercial world, oh, I'm reading for a bank commercial, so I just have to sound trustworthy. No, take it to the next level. Think of who you are. Okay, I'm a financial advisor. Maybe you put on a suit if it makes you feel a little bit more financial advisor like and then think about who you're talking to. Okay? You're talking to maybe a new husband and wife and one is pregnant and you're helping them buy their first home. You're, it
Sounds silly, it sounds ridiculous, but it really, really does help people get more personal with their performance, more personal with the script. So that's what I mean by gamble is just go big. It is so funny in this business that so many of us, you know, I think subconsciously we don't wanna stand out or at least we don't wanna stand out for the wrong reasons. But I go back to my saying, make strong choices. Don't worry about the wrong ones. Cuz even if they're wrong, if you are showing them the work, if you're showing that you get it, it inspires confidence and trust from the casting director. They go, okay, I can hire that person cuz they know I don't have to push them. It's so much easier to pull people back than try to pull a performance out of people. So ultimately go the extra mile cuz not a lot of people are, and it'll be noticed by casting. All right guys, there you have it. That's the ABCs a voiceover. I hope that was helpful for you. If any of you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out and connect with me. You can send me an email vo with sarah gmail.com. Visit my website sarah troyer.com or connect with me over Instagram, Sarah underscore troyer. All right guys, enjoy the rest of your day. I hope it's a good one.