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Thursday, September 22, 2016

6 Essential Hacks to Boost Your Voice Overs

Voice over work can be rewarding and fun, but sometimes you need that shot in the arm to energise your performance and increase your chances of getting hired. 

Let's look at half a dozen ways to give your voice-over job chances a leg-up.  

1. Treat Your Voice to a Tune Up

First thing in the morning add a little voice warm-up to your routine. Gentle humming will ease your vocal cords into action for the day. Get into the habit of doing this while you are running the shower or about to brush your teeth. 

Sounding a bit rough around the edges? A throaty or even croaky voice needs attention. Watch your alcohol intake, avoid smokers - including 'vapers' - and try not to shout or whisper (yes whispering can put a strain on your vocal cords too). If hoarseness persists seek medical advice.

The British Voice Association has produced an extensive range of free, downloadable resources which will help keep your pipes in peak condition.

2. Turbocharge Your Voice

Once your voice is in tip-top shape you can start practising proper voice exercises. I have a useful one where you work your way through a combination of vowels and consonants using the phonetic sound of the letters. Give it a go and see how you get on. 

A basic singers exercise will also help; start by breathing out through your mouth and once your lungs feel empty of air, relax your diaphragm, but keep your mouth open and then let the air whoosh in. Do this a couple of times making the sound of a snake with a 'sss' noise. Try and hold this for as long as you can. Now repeat, but this time use a 'shh' sound and move on to a 'fff' sound.

These procedures will help you strengthen different vocal muscles.

3. Read, Read, Read

Voice over delivery has many different facets, but underpinning all of these is a single talent... the ability to read a script. It is at the core of what you do and so learning to read out loud, but not making it sound like you are reading, is an essential skill and one most of us spend a whole career trying to perfect.

In the last few years there has been a move to a more conversational style of voiceover, one where the artist is not 'announcery' or 'Mrs/Mr Voiceover Woman/Man'.

     Learn how to be conversational in this video

Next time you have a spare moment, find a quiet room on your own and read out loud. Any material will do, in fact the wider range the better; books, magazines, websites. Deliver the words as if you are talking to one person and remember to tell the story.

4. Work at Voice Over Work 

 I have spoken before about the best ways to find voice-over work, but I have to admit that when it comes to jobs in this industry it is feast or famine. 

Tweet: Voice over jobs are like buses - you wait for ages and then 3 turn up all at once. via @VOmasterclass.

One minute you can be struggling to keep up with demand - the next you are twiddling your thumbs. Use the freelancer sites like Fiverr and PeoplePerHour along with the pay-to-play sites such as Voice123.

The best kind of clients are those who come back for more, so nurture the relationship and keep them updated with any special offers you may be running.

5. Use Downtime Wisely

When the work isn't flooding in, keep busy. You want to remain focussed on your voice over business so concentrate on housekeeping by adding content to your website, updating your CV or web profile and perhaps even consider refreshing your showreel.

You should also use this dormant time to engage in social media - join voice over communities, see what other voice over artists are doing and garner as many tips and tricks as you can. 

Don't ignore work that may be on your doorstep too; seek out local production companies (which may be just one person and her laptop working from home) and see if there are any start-ups in your area which might look like they need a voice for their product or service.

6. Learn to Take The Knocks

In voice overs insecurity will be your lifelong companion, so it is best to accept this as an unwanted, but persistent fellow traveller. All voice actors feel insecure at times, it goes with the territory and we could argue it helps give a better performance. 

Bear in mind that if your success rate is one in ten (ie 90% failure rate) you are doing well! Expect most of your auditions to go nowhere - your aim is to give the best performance you can and understand that the final decision is out of your hands. 

A calm acceptance of this is the best way to put failed auditions behind you and move on to a successful voice-over future. 

Gary Terzza is a voice over coach and showreel producer based in London, England.

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