Updated: Sep 16, 2018
The key to a successful voice over is to convey a message in a natural sounding way. Anyone can look at a script and read it out loud, but not everyone can do so in a way that sounds like they're talking off the cuff. This article will help you isolate important voice tools to help you add life and meaning to your voice overs.
Speak Naturally During the Voice Over
Practice sounding conversational. You should sound like you're talking to another person, not like you're reciting something.
Speak clearly. Always be conscious of how your voice sounds—read out loud enough that you can do so without mumbling or stumbling over your words.
Use Verbal Tools to Convey the Message
Pay attention to pitch and inflection. This refers to the highness and lowness of your voice. Variations in pitch are called inflection, and they keep the audiences engaged (it's hard to listen to monotone for very long). Think of inflection as the melody of your speech. Use inflection to emphasize key words, keeping in mind that emphasis affects audience interpretation.
Take the sentence "The ball is on the table." "The ball is on the table" conveys a different meaning than "The ball is on the table. Use inflection to help get your message across to the listener.
Be conscious of your pace. Be aware of the speed at which you speak. Make mental notes of how fast you think you're speaking while you record yourself. Then, play the recording back. Were you right? Remember that different voice overs will require different paces (think of an energetic hip hop dance club commercial vs a relaxing massage commercial).
Practice appropriate volume. It's important to speak loudly enough to be heard without yelling. In addition, you should have good volume control—certain types of voice overs will require more volume than others
Practice rhythm and fluency. Rhythm and fluency refers to how smooth or choppy your speech is. You want the voice over to sound fluid, so practice being in control of your pauses—take advantage of natural stopping points, such as commas and periods, to breathe and read ahead.
Have clear dictation and articulation. Be aware of whether or not you normally have an accent. If you do, know "proper" English pronunciation as well. This doesn't mean that your accent is a hindrance—often times a unique voice can be considered an asset, but it's important to be able to use "standard" English if asked. Practice reading aloud a lot so that you don't stumble over words or mumble.
Know how to convey emotion. Depending on the script, you may need to sound sad, excited, or simply informative. Practice delivering with appropriate emotional tone and energy.
Remember that there is no "right" type of voice. What's important is that you embrace your voice so that you can learn the best way to market it during your next audition.