"Has this ever happened to you: You are chatting to someone on the phone or in person and they suddenly comment on your voice; it might be a remark about how deep, husky, or even sexy it is? They may have gone further and suggested you could do radio or TV ads. If this sounds familiar then perhaps a career in voiceovers could be a possibility, but is having a good speaking voice enough? The answer, though, is no. To earn a living, part or full time, using your vocal cords you need something else.
Voice-overs are only partly about the way you sound; they are, also about the way you interpret a script and crucially the way you read someone else's words. The aim of the voice actor is to bring these words to life, no matter how complex, alien or even boring they may be. This is because what the client wants to hear is the idea being transmitted. The vocal talent is in being able to communicate a message clearly and with meaning.
You have to sound like you know what you are talking about, even if you do not. The golden rule of any voiceover is to possess the words; that is to say you have to own them and make them yours. Only then can you truly enrich them with meaning. This has nothing to do with the tonal quality of the voice, but everything to do with the mindset. It is all about the attitude of the reader; does she/he sound convincing? Are they hesitating, or putting in too many pauses? Is there too much drama in a technical piece, or too little energy in a hard sell commercial? Is a corporate video being delivered with frivolity rather than authority, or a charity appeal lacking gravitas? A good director will be able to mould the artist accordingly, but often the talent will be recording at home and have to rely on their own judgement. Learning to trust your own ears is essential.
Also are you able to meet deadlines? The audio track is often the very last element to be considered in a project and the decision about who will perform the piece is sometimes left to the very last minute. That's why agents, production companies and producers want people who can deliver the sound sample on time and within budget. So flexibility helps, as does the ability to record at home for a fast turnaround. Ask yourself if you would take criticism to heart. Many budding voice artists have their egos dented by clients' and agents' comments and this can throw them off course. You need to develop a thick skin. Because voice-overs are subjective, one person's opinion of the way you sound is exactly that, an opinion.
However when you have put lots of effort into a project it can be hurtful to be rejected, but keeping a dispassionate distance can help any bruised pride. Are you prepared to treat your new career as a business? The more professional you are, the more your prospects are likely to take you seriously. Keep tax receipts, issue invoices with payment terms and sell yourself like a true pro. It works wonders. So your natural timbre and pitch are simply not enough on their own to give you a career using your larynx. Always bear in mind there is much more to the mouth industry than meets the ear!"
by Gary Terzza
Voice123 thanks Gary Terzza for his contribution to this blog, as well as, a Voice123 Coach.