Whether you are creating explainer videos, a video game, a documentary, or a commercial, a good voice and a quality voice-over performance make all the difference in storytelling and can take you from amateur to professional. But what does it take to be an exceptional voice-over talent with a great voice and a promising career?
Essential Elements of a Good Voice Over
Most people associate a great voice with a great voice-over. Popular actors like Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones are known for their impactful voices and VO work. However, you don’t need to be born with an outstanding voice to hit those heights. With proper training and enough practice, anyone can record high-quality work. A few essential elements of a good voice over include:
- Audio clarity and volume
- Vocal tone and inflection
1. Audio Clarity and Volume
A good-quality audio file with voice acting requires a certain clarity and a comfortable volume. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t record anything with background noise or fuzzy sounds, which can make it difficult for listeners to understand you. Additionally, the volume should be set at a comfortable audio level so people can hear you clearly.
2. Pronunciation and Enunciation
Pronouncing each word correctly helps you sound clear which in turn makes it easier for listeners to understand you. While, of course, mumbling should be avoided, you shouldn’t over-enunciate either, as this can make you sound overly dramatic or fake. Also, pay attention to your accent and who you record for. Depending on your audience, you may have to tweak the way you speak.
3. Vocal Tone and Inflection
Vocal tone and inflection indicate a natural and pleasant way of speaking. For example, male voice actors tend to have a deep voice. While you want to sound warm, friendly, and engaging, you should avoid sounding fake. Beware of sounding monotone and boring but also don’t come across as too hyped up. The sweet spot in the middle is the type of voice that professional voice-over artists use when recording audio for clients.
Lastly, as a professional voice actor, you have to pay attention to your pacing. Pacing refers to the speed with which you speak as well as to occasional pauses for breath, whether they are for effect or to give listeners time to process the information you are sharing. Neither speaking too rushed, nor talking too slowly, will appeal to listeners. Instead, find a natural pace to speak. With regular practice, you will be able to hone in on your pacing in no time.
How to Improve Your Voice Over Recordings
Most people are not used to hearing their own voice on audio recordings and don’t know what it sounds like to others. Because you hear your own voice differently than when you record it, it’s important that you get familiar with your recording sound and practice regularly to improve it.
Chances are, you won’t like your own voice when you hear it recorded. That’s completely normal and something every actor has to tackle. Firstly, start getting used to hearing your voice by spending more time in a recording studio (or in your home studio) and recording more audios. With time, you will find that your voice actually sounds quite natural.
When you record your voice, take note of what the recording and your voice sound like. Do you hear background noise? Does your voice sound muffled, lack warmth, or is your pacing off? Take detailed notes and then try to record again by paying attention to the elements you didn’t like in the first version. Listen to the new recording, take notes again and then use your software to cut out mistakes, move different sections around, and remove long pauses.
Here are a few more tips you can follow to improve your voice over recording:
- Watch your posture – Your posture has a significant impact on your voice and the way you sound. If you cannot stand while recording, make sure to sit up straight. This will help you maintain good breath support and to speak clearly, with a strong voice.
- Have a glass of water nearby – Staying hydrated is important when constantly using your vocal cords, so make sure to have a glass of water on-hand.
- Warm-up your voice – Before reading your script aloud, warm up your voice with a few vocal exercises. You can find these for free on YouTube.
- Practice the script – Before recording it, read your script and mark the parts that may need additional practice. You can also insert pauses or make notes for special pronunciations, pacing, lower or higher pitches, or breaths to take.
An outstanding voice-over performance is the result of an actor who practices his craft regularly and speaks with a natural, engaging voice to record a high-quality audiotape.You can learn
how to become an audiobook narrator. While having a great voice can certainly help you stand out as a VO talent, it’s more important that you can offer good audio quality and volume, excellent vocal tone and inflection, good pronunciation and enunciation, and perfect pacing when recording a professional voice over.