You see it in audition specs: “Must sound real, conversational, and not announcer-y.” But what does that really mean? How can a “real” voice performance sound unique and engaging with personality and style while delivering the required copy points? VO actor, coach, and author Elaine A. Clark of ElaineClarkVO.com break it all down in her books, apps, and podcast, but for now, here is a sample of how to break it down.
Getting to Know Your Voice Performance Coach
Armed with a BA in Theatre/Speech Communication and Education, Elaine stumbled into the world of voice-overs. Like many voice actors, it was love at first read. The only problem was that theatre training didn’t immediately translate into voice-overs so the first read sounds like an opening night performance, and seconds later, the final take shimmers like it’s closing night. Perhaps you can relate?
Top 3 Tips for Voice Actors
- As a coach, Elaine utilizes several tricks and techniques to guide actors to reprogram how they deliver the copy. Script analysis should go beyond the synopsis of the script because it’s just an understanding of WHAT the copy is about. The voice actor’s job is to understand WHY the copy was written. Then, the VO actor should connect with the emotional and subtextual message to achieve and exceed the client’s overall goal.
- When a VO actor reads, Elaine listens for consistencies, inconsistencies, patterns, story arc, believability, and truthfulness. Then, points out the areas that work and what could use improvement. For some, it’s a technique, while others need help connecting with their emotional history to share their unique personality and point-of-view.
- VO actors’ performances can be stiff or unfocused when they don’t move or gesture too much. I coach them to embody the copy rather than keep those wonderful choices locked inside their head. After assessing their copy-reading skills, Elaine suggests ways to stand at the mic, relax or tighten the muscles, and gesture based on the script styles and copy points.
Growth for the Real Voice Actor
Copy specs can be confusing and confining. As a result, voice actors tend to focus on the words and the sound of their voice rather than the message’s truth and emotional connection with the audience. We are constantly evolving, and so is the world around us. Staying on top of our game means learning new skills, being aware of new trends, making stylistic changes to our performances, and networking.
Like the growth of the VO industry over the next three decades, the 4th edition of There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is grew with much more insider information, practice scripts, interviews, and career guidance. Elaine has identified two main performance issues:
- Breathing/Breath Support
- Volume Consistency
It is vital to effectively address breathing, volume, diction, articulation, and resonance, all of which can be done in a 5-minute mobile phone app called ‘Activate Your Voice.’ Many voice actors claim that warming up increases their booking ratio. They claim that the overall sound of their voice improves in audition and job recordings!
Addressing the Issues With the Real Voice Performance
Another issue Elaine discovered is the lack of knowledge and utilization of melody, tempo, pitch, and speech variety to bring the message to life… not to mention on time. The app Adding Melody To Your Voice includes an interactive listen, record, and playback function for self-guided practice.
As an educator by nature and nurture, each 5-10 minute episode of Elaine’s podcast identifies a speech problem. This demonstrates how to solve the problem and provides a practice assignment to help move the information out of the head and into the body to be used instinctively.
To learn more about Elaine A. Clark and her products and services, visit her website: ElaineClarkVO.com. You can find her books, apps, and podcast on her website. They are available in all the usual places you go for downloads, views, listening, and purchases.
Elaine’s services include VO & Podcasting Books and Apps, Demo Production, and Coaching Services ll all of which are available at ElaineClarkVO.com.