Join Voice Over Expert Phyllis K. Day as she takes you on a journey through “The Layers of Your Voice”. There is more that goes into a performance than just a rehearsed and polished take. Find out how your life outside of the studio could be affecting your voice acting behind the mic.
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Phyllis K. Day, Voice Coaching, Voice Overs, Voice, Voice Acting, Visual Coaching
Transcript of The Layers of Your Voice
Julie-Ann Dean: Welcome to Voiceover Experts brought to you by Voices.com, the number one voiceover marketplace. Voiceover Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voiceover. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voiceover talent. It’s never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home and your own pace. This is truly an education you won’t find anywhere else.
Now for our special guest.
Phyllis K. Day: Hello. My name is Phyllis K. Day. I coach the mechanics of your voice and I know where to put the X. I’ll tell you a quick story. There was a company with a big problem. Their equipment didn’t work and after months of troubleshooting, they called in a man who assured them that he would solve the problem. The man came in, poked around briefly and finally took a large marker and drew an X on the side of a piece of equipment. There’s your problem right there. The company investigated and sure enough, there it was. The man gave him his bill and then the company was shocked.
“Buy all you did was walk around for a few minutes and put an X on one piece of equipment and you expect us to pay you?”
The man said, “Yes, because I knew where to put the X.”
As a coach, I know where to put the X when it comes to your problem. For example, I get an e-mail from a guy in radio. He keeps hearing, “You sound too announcery. Don’t do it that way.”
Bu the guy, a real long-time seasoned pro can’t figure out what they want him to do and how to stop doing it whatever it is he’s doing. He comes to me. I listen to him and I tell him not only where the X is but how to get rid of it.
First, I listened to his demos then I asked him to send me an MP3 of his voice with no processing, talking about his past work, present situation, what hopes he has for the future, what makes him happy, sad, mad, et cetera. I listened very closely and this way, I can get another layer of information about his voice. Sound in general produces for me all the usual things hearing people enjoy but I also get a visual.
It’s like sort of like being able to see through an onion and know what’s inside under the layers. Then I can guide the client in the direction he or she needs to go to get rid of the layers that are covering up the voice. In general, I coach him or her to have the same body or face, neck and chest position as he or she had during a clip that was natural and clear. That’s why I have you talk on this MP3 because somewhere in there, I’ll be able to see where you sound best. Now, by natural, I don’t mean that the acting was great but when a coaching client uses a range in delivery that is naturally his or hers and not contrived. Here is an example of before and after.
Male: You work hard for your money and it’s important to you. Keep your money inside the house where it belongs for as long as you can.
Expecting mothers know that life’s most precious gift is a little miracle, nine months in the making.
Phyllis K. Day: A big change, huh? Hard to tell it’s the same person. Here’s another fellow who had a similar problem.
Male: At our dealership, your job is done right the first time and better than anywhere else in the region.
And your son is off to college, right? Yes, that kid is seriously maintaining his hustle with med school and all. I’m really proud of him.
Yo, you really got quite a legacy for yourself.
Phyllis K. Day: In both cases, they were altering their normal voices to produce something different that may have been in vogue at one time but was not a desired read now. Both had perfectly good, natural voices that they pretty much never used in front of a mic for some reason. I had to determine why they chose not to be themselves when recording or on the air which depending on the person could be that they were emulating someone they heard on the air years ago and they wanted to sound like them or they were under the impression that their natural voice wasn’t good enough to use or was just plain unacceptable for some reason.
Next, I had to give them vocal exercises to physically find where they needed to put or actually keep their throats, faces and what not, to be in their most natural, in that most unnatural space, the studio which is really just a box with a grey thin in it. For some reason, they get in their booth, look at the copy and they’d unconsciously turn into someone else. So I had to teach them to physically find where they were when they were just talking naturally like on the phone or in person with someone and it’s not just men who have these issues.
Another client of mine is an opera singer and former TV news anchor. Her issue was what I call trills. She’d hang on to a word and add a layer of almost a shaking or trilling sound. When she doesn’t do the trilling in the second part of her before and after clip, which I’ll play for you in just a second, you can hear her clean, clear voice. The trick is being able to perceive that there is a clear, clean voice under those trills and that’s again, what I do. Here is her before and after.
Female: In order to give your more time to do the things you need to do, Beaverton Honda promises to give you the information you want when you want it.
Everyday, countless young women live with the pain and fear of an unplanned and worse, an unwanted pregnancy.
Phyllis K. Day: Again, it almost sounds like two different people. Sometimes, the issue is purely emotional. After years of being in the biz, some people are finding it harder and harder to enjoy voice work and it’s showing up in their voice. They contact me because they aren’t getting as much work as they used to or maybe they haven’t had a VO gig in a year or maybe they got laid off at the radio station or maybe they’re working the overnight shift when they used to do afternoons.
I’ll say, “When I listen to your voice, I can see anxiety,” or “Is something making you sad?” or “What’s making you feel anxious?” Sometimes, it’s not something that happened a week ago or a year ago or even a month ago. Often it happened a very long time ago, 20, 30, maybe even 40 years ago. The good news is once they do personalized exercises that I suggest to them, they free up their sound because they’re no longer holding on to those feelings and it doesn’t show up on their voice anymore. They still have the feelings but they’re not bringing it into their throat and into their sound.
Rest assured I don’t fool around if it looks like someone has a significant problem that really should be worked through with a therapist. I will suggest that they get a therapist but I’ve only had to do that once.
Here is a sample from the first MP3 chat I had with a fellow and a little sample from the second one, a little bit later. This guy had some emotional issues and he began to do his homework between the first one and the second one. In the second part, his voice is noticeably lighter, relieved even because his sadness is lifting. It’s a process.
Male: I’ve been on the air since I was just before 14 years old. I got started in radio by absolute accident. A radio salesman came into my mom and dad’s truck show. My mom was a secretary. My dad was a diesel mechanic and I was in line to become a diesel mechanic.
Phyllis, the last few weeks since I’ve talked to you have really opened my eyes. I have spent hours and hours and hours and hours just typing – finding my happy place. I ended up – me trying to explain why I’m not happy constantly and the more I went through the story, the more I realized, I have no reason to be unhappy.
Phyllis K. Day: As time goes on, he’ll sound lighter and fresher. Would you like an evaluation of your voice? Send an MP3 to VoiceCoach@Phyllisk.com with no processing, just talking about your past work, your present situation, what you hope for the future, your feelings in general like what makes you happy, what do you do to make yourself happy, where do you go or who do you think about? What makes you sad? What are you angry about and just whatever you’d like then I’ll try to use part of it in the next podcast that Stephanie allows me to produce and I’ll probably use some of your – the work that you’ve done, some of the auditions perhaps that you’ve done or some of the live work that you have running.
Again, send it to me at VoiceCoach@Phyllisk.com Keep it under 10 megs and we’re good to go. See you next time. I’m Phyllis K. Day.
Julie-Ann Dean: Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this Voices.com podcast, visit the Voiceover Experts show notes at Podcasts.Voices.com/VoiceoverExperts. Remember to stay subscribed.
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Your Instructor this week:
Phyllis is a freelance technical writer and voice professional with over thirty years experience. A Broadcast Journalism graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, Phyllis became an anchor a few months later on the North Carolina News Network. She has also anchored on Business Radio Network and American Forum Radio Network in Colorado. Her voice has been heard nation-wide and she was also the narrator for a show heard daily on NPR and Armed Forces Radio in the 1990s. Phyllis was part of a mentoring program for several years at North Carolina State University for the students in NC State’s radio program. She currently runs personalized coaching workshops, in addition to narrations for e-learning and business presentations.