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Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Voice Over Talent and E-Learning for Companies HR

 


Within the e-learning world of voice over jobs there is a niche in employee training videos and HR communication.  The jobs within this niche include new employee onboarding, benefits information, company policies and procedures, training, and safety information.

HR departments need communication to keep teams informed and up to date as well as getting new employees trained. The e-learning niche was around before the pandemic however, it has grown and will continue to grow as remote working will continue.

Voice Over Talent and HR Communications

Most employees are not comfortable or have the right tone needed for e-learning videos.  That is where voice over talent comes in.  These videos and onboarding information set the tone for the company.  As a voice over talent, you are trained in how to create a tone that matches the company.  From financial institutions, IT, banks, software development, each brand needs a sound that will resonate with staff and match the vibe.  As the voice over professional, it is about establishing a tone and representing them in your performance. Also many in-person sales training meetings have been replaced with e-learning sessions.

Once hired by a company, there are many job opportunities initially as into the future as the voice of the brand.  Many voice over actors find that it is a great stream of income.

Onboarding

When a new employee is hired, there is a lot of information that needs to be given.  Voice over for onboarding is gaining popularity as an alternative to face-to-face training.  The voice over talent needs to be a calming, informational voice that sets expectations while getting the companies message across.  During the onboarding process, the employee is getting a sense of the company, which is why the voice over is so critical.

Benefits and Insurance Information

Benefits and insurance information can be confusing with so many options for a new hire.  Narrating benefits and training on how to handle the paperwork and options is another important area for HR.  The voice over talent needs to make it as easy to understand as possible and speak conversationally.  The other key component is keeping the delivery engaging, as the initial reaction of a new hire is to glaze over when the conversation starts getting long.

Safety

Safety training videos are important in many industries, like hospitals, plants, refineries, warehouses, construction, labs, food handling, and more.  Safety videos are a huge part of the e-learning experience for employees.

The voice over talent needs to deliver the information and keep the employee interested, so a monotone delivery is not going to work.  The audience needs to understand and comprehend in order to keep themselves and others safe when working.  This is a huge reason why companies are hiring voice over actors to narrate the safety videos.

Training  E-Learning Videos

Many e-learning videos that are being made.  Not only for new hires but for all employees, management, and even hiring and firing.  There are many opportunities for the voice over talent to create new projects as time goes on. 

Whether you already are working in the e-learning videos or not this corporate opportunity niche is only going to gain momentum and continue to be a great avenue for voice over actors. One thing of note: I personally believe that the best e-learning voices have a bit of a "generic" neutral sound to them. They are clear, concise and articulate. For women, I believe slightly deeper, mature strong voices work well. And for men, a clear tenor non raspy voice with excellent diction works best. Yes, you may have noticed that I just pretty much eliminated myself from e-learning voices. My voice is usually too deep, raspy and distinctive for e-learning. My voice often becomes too distracting from the original material to be properly listened to. And of course, it's the material subject matter at hand that is what's important.


Everything You Need to Know for Narration Voice Over Acting

 


Are you interested in doing narration voice over work?  Narration jobs make up a huge percentage of the work available.  Narration is still a competitive area, so you need to train as well as have a strong demo.  Here is a guide to working in narration and booking more voice over jobs.

Types of Narration

Narration is a broad range of job opportunities.  It could mean documentary, TV narration, audiobooks, and corporate.

Documentaries and television use narration to underscore the action and help tell the story.  Audiobook narration is a full storytelling of both nonfiction and fiction.  Audiobooks sometimes have one narrator or multiple narrators.  Corporate narration can vary from internal and external communications, annual report videos, training videos, conference openers, explainer videos, and e-learning.

Each narration type has a different style of narration that is used.  Think about what suits your voice and personal voice over style.  While you can train and work some voice over actors, find some types that are easiest to master and become sought-after actors.

What are Clients Looking For?

It is not always easy to know what sound a client is looking for out of a narration voice actor.  There are some general descriptors that you will see in the audition notes or job posting are, “real person”, “conversational”, “authoritative”, “inspirational”, and “genuine”.  While these tags can be vague, they give you a starting point. 

One of the things to think about is what clients respond to with your voice, what style is a good fit for you and them.  If you study the options, train, and use your unique gift, it will land the jobs.

Your Successes

When you are deciding upon your strategy for narration, think about what your wheelhouse is.  Think about the styles that you book.  You will want to make sure that you have updated demos that showcase that so you can continue to book those jobs.  However, you may decide that there is another segmented area that you want to book.  This is the time to work on those skills needed and expand.

Narration Demos

Demos need to show your range and the best work in order to get a callback and book a job.  Some think that your demo should be in a mixed-format while others feel that tracks should be separate.  The best option is to have both ready to go so that you can send what it is that they want.  Not everyone has time to listen to multiple tracks and narration demos tend to be a little longer than other demos.

Another tip for a narration demo is if you know the type of read the client is looking for send them that cut.  This will give them exactly what they are looking for and the stronger possibility of them hiring you.

Don’t forget about production in your demos whether you are exceptionally good or starting out, a strong demo has excellent sound.  If the demo does not sound professional, no matter how strong your voice is it will not get you booked.  Work with a professional producer and continue to work on your editing skills.  These days as more voice over actors are working from home studios there is a level of production and editing that is required by you.

Some narration for TV done for popular shows like on The Discovery Channel, Food Channel, Animal Planet, History Channel and many more require special "in-show" narration to enhance the action in the footage being shown. The demo for these shows need to sound exactly like what you hear on those programs. I just made my very first demo of this kind this year. Here's a link:

https://soundcloud.com/ricklancestudio/ricklancetvnarration-2


Thursday, May 6, 2021

Why Understanding Vocal Fry is So Important to Voice Over Talent

 


As a voice over talent, it is important to stay current with modern trends both in voice and recording styles. Vocal fry is a phrase that is often mentioned in the acting industry.  However, it is unhealthy for a voice over actor as it has the potential to create long-term damage to your vocal cords.  A voice over talent’s voice is their most important asset.  Here is a look at vocal fry and if there is a need for it and what it is.

What is Vocal Fry?

Vocal Fry is the lowest vocal register a person can produce.  Vocal fry is also known as the vocal fry register.  It occurs when a minimal amount of air is passed through the vocal cords and they vibrate slowly, creating a popping or sizzling sound.  This speech pattern is a fad seen in North America.

Trending Examples of Vocal Fry

Vocal fry has received more attention over the past few years in female actors.  A few common examples are Brittany Spears, the Kardashians, and Katy Perry.

Perceptions of Vocal Fry

The perception of vocal fry is that it sounds like a lack of confidence, authority, laziness, or aloofness.  The voice is there but barely it has a breathlessness sound.  The audience will start to wonder if the narrator or speaker not authentic do they not believe in what they are saying?

The audience that this speech pattern appeals to most is the millennial audience.  However, most brands do not want the perceptions to be affiliated with their brand.

Vocal Fry Can Damage Vocal Chords

While many say that this speech technique is linked to a relaxed voice, it can cause a sore throat at the end of the day of recording. By minimizing the amount of air other throat muscles need to constrict putting a strain on your throat.  This is want can cause vocal fatigue.  For voice over talent fatigue will make your voice sound tired the next day.  Which can affect the next job especially if you need to sound excited and perky.  Over an extended period of time, using vocal fry can cause you to lose your voice and end the recording session for the day or possibly a few days of no speaking. 

Is This Style For You?

There are times where the voice naturally drops into that low register.  Vocal fry is a style that many people like and relate to, while others have a strong distaste for it.  When it comes to using this speaking style as a voice over talent, it may be asked of you if the brand or story is trying to reach that younger audience.  However, be careful as a voice over talent you need to care for your vocal cords and protect them as it is your livelihood. 


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Voice Acting Techniques from A Seasoned Voice Over Actor

 


The first step is having a great voice and the desire to be a voice over actor.  However, having a great voice is not enough, you need to train and practice to be successful.  To book jobs will take time and a commitment to perfecting your abilities and submitting pieces. But one caveat here. Having a great voice has a bit of a new meaning in the VO world. Meaning traditionally a nice... often radio... nice voice is not as valued. Many times just an average sounding voice, in the traditional sense... can work quite well in voiceover. In other words, these days it's how you use that voice.

Work with Coaches and Take Classes

Being a voice actor is more than having a good voice and reading, it takes acting skills, pronunciation, and articulation.  Classes also allow you to meet other actors and network within the industry.  Collaboration opportunities give you a great chance to learn from others and improve your skills. And keep up with the current trends in the industry.

A voice acting coach will listen and help you train to get the best performance each and every time.  While you can practice and listen to yourself with recordings, they understand all the things that directors are looking for.  A coach can help guide you to the genres that will help you create a successful career. And maybe help you find your "signature.. or money" voice!

Study Other Voice Over Actors

The best voice over actors listen to other professionals not only when they were starting out but throughout their career.  Study commercials, cartoons, video games, eBooks, anywhere that a voice over actor is playing a character or narrating.  By studying you will also find which genres and styles appeal to you and which jobs you want to take. As the old saying goes... steal only from the best! Then make it your own.

Warm-ups

Just like an athlete voice over actors need to warm-up before an audition and jobs.  Warming up is so important to loosen up the vocal cords and it decreases the occurrence of voice cracks and mouth noises.  Breathing exercises and warm-ups will help get your voice to perform at its best and help you take care of your voice. 

Some of the most effective warm-ups are lip rolls, tongue trills, and the m, z, l, and n sounds.  For more vocal warm-up tips to get the best performance, read my warm-up post here.

Practice

Practice is important even when you are not preparing for an audition or job.  Set up a recording studio in your home and practice reading copy and then listening back to it.  This is also the time to work on tones, accents, and pitches so that you can be a versatile voice over actor.

Another area to practice is in the editing of your recordings.  Many jobs will require you to be able to edit the recording before sending it in.  In the last year, it has become even more important as the pandemic has changed the way recording studios operate and the opportunity to work in one.

Interpreting Scripts

A good voice actor needs to be able to look at a script, understand the purpose and then bring it to life.  It is about interpreting the emotions and engaging with the listener.  The key to interpreting a script is to know the audience that you are talking to and speak to them.  Imagine the setting of the scene and analysis the character when necessary.  The more you can interpret and understand the script the more the script will come to life with your voice.

The voice acting industry is an exciting and rewarding profession.  However, it is about doing the work and honing your skills so that the opportunities will come to you. 


Thursday, April 15, 2021

Virtual Reality is Still Opening Doors for Voice Over Talent

 


Virtual Reality is continuously developing new technology to make VR games and apps more and more advanced.  VR includes games, apps, how-to, and even companies are using VR as a way to tell stories.  As virtual reality keeps improving, there is one thing that is staying the same, the opportunities for voice over talent.  Here are some of the many opportunities virtual reality has for voice over talent.

Virtual Reality and Gaming

When people first hear Virtual Reality, they immediately think of gaming, and this is the biggest and most popular way VR became reality in homes.  There are many headsets on the market and the games keep improving and so many options since when flight one’s first, hit the scene.

Training and Marketing Videos

VR has improved the way companies are making training videos from cars to medical centers, these training videos are improving the way employees and customers see.  Car companies like Mercedes have created an app that lets consumers test drive their cars.  This marketing video has helped increase sales and interest in the E-class Mercedes.  Doctors use virtual reality to improve surgical skills without risking patient’s lives.

Doctors Prescribe VR

While a doctor will not prescribe a VR video game, they will advise a patient on therapy that uses Virtual Reality.  For anxiety, doctors have found that with the aid of VR they can help reduce anxiety attacks.  Post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias can be debilitating, however, with safe exposure therapy, they can learn to deal with circumstances, objects, and places while remaining safe in an office.

Visit Destinations

The travel industry and many popular destinations have always put together beautiful imagery and commercials showcasing their destination.  However, when the pandemic hit, travel, landmarks, parks, and destinations all felt the void.  Virtual Reality became extremely important to let visitors see and learn about their locations with VR technology.  Museums, zoos, National parks, have all changed their game by offering tours using technology.

What Do All of These Styles Have in Common?

The graphics and the feeling of being transported are a large part of what makes VR so popular.  However, that is not enough it is about the story, the script, and the voice.  That is where voice over talent comes in.  In all the examples of VR, there are many different voice over genre styles.  A video game needs an excited narrator leading the user down the path to a win.  Whereas in training videos, it is a moderate voice that is precise and yet doesn’t put the audience to sleep.

For therapy VR, a calm and soothing voice is what will help patients overcome their anxiety and PTSD.

These options are just many examples of the type of jobs that are out there for voice over talent.  As with all voice over job opportunities, not all may be the perfect fit for your style, however, it is worth looking into as you are working to create a carrier in the industry.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Customer Service Voice Over Opportunities are Out There

 


For all companies, customer service and the customer experience are everything.  How customers perceive a brand ultimately affects the bottom line.  Because of this, many brands are turning to hire professional voice over actors to communicate their brand effectively.  If you have not considered this type of job, it can be a great opportunity for you.

Customer Service or Customer Experience

The difference between customer service and the customer experience is that customer service handles the interaction with the customer typically when there is a problem.  The customer experience is the entire journey of a customer with a business. 

While customer service is still important to businesses these days, it is the customer experience that they are focusing on, which is where voice over actors come into the picture.

Why Brands Need Voice Over Actors

Companies are hiring voice over actors for phone and online customer service options.  Why?  Because of the absence of face-to-face communication, it is harder to get emotions across, the non-verbal cues play a role.  Relying solely on the voice brands find that customers can read messages very differently than it was intended.

Trained voice actors can effectively communicate, it is what you are trained for.  You can get the message across to their customers in their voice.

The content must be read clearly and easily understood by the customer, many brands prefer it to be conversational and believable.  Voice over actors that have experience in audiobooks and podcasts do very well with this genre.

Tone Matters

When it comes to customer service the tone of the voice is the difference between your words being heard or undermined.  The tone can make a difference between a positive or negative customer experience.  A negative experience typically means a lost customer, versus a lifelong relationship.

A voice actor understands the way to modulate and control vocal delivery.  Your goal as a professional is to be confident and welcoming while gaining the client’s trust simply with the recording that they hear.

Read Over the Script and Intentions

As a voice over actor, it is your goal to help the company that hires you with reading the script effectively but also making sure that your tone and delivery gives the right message.  Sometimes brands will think that humor is a good way to go on a customer service recording, however, with your expertise if you think it doesn’t sound authentic then let them know.  Part of your job is to make sure that the intention is what is delivered.

Many brands are looking for voice over actors so if it is a new type of work, study both good and bad and practice so you can give the best performance.  Once you get hired, it may be a good source for other in-house projects and even being the voice of their brand.


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Radio Ads Need Voice Over Actors: Are you Ready?

 


Radio commercials can be national or local and can provide a voice over actor a regular income.  Radio ads are not dead and are still a great job source for voice over talent.

Voice over actors are so important for radio ads as it is your voice that brings credibility to the message and the brand.  They are counting on your voice to make listeners not only interested but represent their brand in the best light.

Voice Over Talent for Radio

Radio commercials or ads are anywhere from 15 to 60 seconds long.

Radio ads are typically read at a faster rate and require a lot of energy.  You must hold the attention of the audience and be persuasive without being pushy.  The voice is the most important part of the ad and can be told in a variety of styles based on the brand’s target audience.

Types of Radio Ads

There are four main types of radio ads that are used.  Each one has specific formatting that makes it important to understand how you should use your talent.

·         Jingle Ad – These ads are the ones that people are singing or humming long after, the ones with phrases that get stuck in a listener’s head.  The key is the wording and as a voice over actor it is about clearly getting the message out.

·         Sponsorship Ad – These ads typically come before or after a popular show.  It is a commanding voice that states, “This show is sponsored by….”

·         Straight Read Ad – These ads are an audio version of text ads.  They are ads that speak about the brand.

·         Customer Testimonial Ad – Brands often have compelling testimonials by customers that make for great promotion ads.  However, the customers are not the ones to read them.  That is where a skilled voice actor can give the read based on the customer’s words.  It is perfect for a professional actor who can give the statement life.

Practice is Key

The best way to become a radio voice over actor is to practice.  Work with a broad range of scripts so that you are prepared for the broad range of styles and can work on the subtle differences.  Record your practice runs and then play them back.

Listen to the current style you hear on the radio, styles change to keep up with trends.

A radio voice over coach will be able to help you work out the fine elements.  Look for a coach that specializes in radio teachings or a class that is specifically about radio voice over work.

Get Your Demo Reel Ready

If you are just starting in the radio ad world, create a demo with the styles that you have mastered.  Make sure that your reel is clean and would be ready to go straight to air.  This reel needs to impress agents, brands, anyone that you are sending a copy out to.

Keep in mind that your reel will constantly change and update as you book jobs and broaden your work.  A demo is about showcasing the best of your work and a variety or diversity of what you can do.