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Friday, October 04, 2013

Don't Pigeonhole Your Voice for Voice Over Jobs

When it comes to voice over work, how do you know what your voice is suitable for? Perhaps you think audio-books or documentaries are more 'you'. But such ideas could create a niche that is more of a straight-jacket.

As a companion piece to my last post, I am going to talk about the folly of stereotyping your own voice. Prepare to unlearn what you might be thinking.

People who come along to our VoMasterClass are often surprised to hear me say that it won't be possible to say what their voices will be most suited for. What? Surely that is the whole reason they are attending in the first place! As I explain to them, voiceovers are subjective; one client might think your voice is ideal for corporates or business presentations, but another may have a different view: your dulcet tones could be better suited (in their view) as a video game narrator. 

In fact it is interesting the majority of my VO students who have voiced gaming projects tend to be mature females (many of whom have never played a video game in their life), dispelling the preconception that gaming voices are the preserve of young guys holed up in their bedrooms.

So what if you are an expert in a particular area? Say you have authoritative knowledge of military history or you are a mad-keen golfer, surely you would be ideal to do a documentary on the Battle of The Bulge or a training DVD explaining how to improve your swing? Think again. Voice overs have nothing to do with your knowledge, experience or interests. They are all about you taking ANY subject and bringing the dry words on the page to life. That is the skill of the voice over artist and the reason you are booked in the first place.

One of my students is a leading jewellery expert; she lectures in the subject and teaches jewellers how to test gemstones for authenticity. When a voice over job came up requiring a female voice to narrate a promotional video on gems she thought she would be perfect. She may have been, but her voice was not,  the client deemed it to be unsuitable. In fact a few days later she was successful in a voice over job - a children's audio book about animal noises!

So how DO you know which voice acting jobs you are suitable for? The answer is, you don't. At least not at first. You need to judge each script on its own merits. However before you even get to that stage you have to give every genre a go. Don't be put off if it is a commercial because you have a soft, quiet voice. Lots of commercials are.... soft and quiet. It is about striking the right tone with your voice and matching vocal performance to script. 

Everyone likes to categorise, including us voice over folk, but it is very important to keep an open mind. Try not to tram-line your voice. You would not expect a session singer to turn down a rock song because they prefer blues. They have to go where the work is and use their talents as directed. 

It is exactly the same in voice overs. 

If you would like to test your own voice over potential, try my free online lesson. I am sure you will find it good fun and you may be pleasantly surprised with what comes out of your mouth!


Gary Terzza is a British voice over coach  and welcomes questions. Please email

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