When you’re first getting started with voiceover acting, you’ll want to figure out how to identify and describe your voice, or ‘vocal type.’. Doing this isn’t meant to pigeonhole you into one type of voice work - it’s intended to help you understand what your voice sounds like to others (especially while on a microphone), and how it reads - this will give you great material to work with when you’re trying to practice and improve for upcoming gigs.
First, you’ll want to have someone help you determine what your normal, everyday voice sounds like, and what type of character it fits best with. Once you know what you sound like at baseline level when not trying to make any changes, it’s easier to figure out what adjustments to make towards any given role, whether that’s narration, introduction, voice acting or any one of the other many genres of voiceover.
Remember not to take yourself too seriously when you’re doing this exercise, as your default voice type doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with who you are as a person - it’s just how you come across in a very general way as people hear you talk.
Example adjectives that could be used to describe your neutral voice include warm, velvety, classical, charming, polished, deep, rich, compassionate, unconventional, or throaty or raspy. It’s a good idea to avoid overly vague terms such as ‘professional’ and ‘sexy’ as these could mean any number of things, and is very subjective.
To begin, record yourself talking about a topic you find interesting (something you feel comfortable with) for 30 seconds, and then play the recording for somebody else - ideally someone you aren’t close friends with (so they can be more objective). If you can’t find anyone to listen, another option is turning to social media for receptive ears. After they hear the recording, ask the individual these questions:
● What age do you sound? (Examples could include elementary/high school, college, younger adult, mature professional, senior)
● Do you sound aggressive or violent?
● Do you sound like you have children? Or do you sound like a child yourself?
● Does it sound like you’re single, in a relationship, divorced, or married?
● Do you have sexual appeal? Could you be a romantic interest?
● What type of work would you likely do?
● Do you sound street smart or book smart? Blue collar or white collar?
● Are you from a rural, urban, or suburban area?
● If you could be described in one simple sentence, what would it be?
Although some of these questions can sound a bit silly, thoroughly completing this exercise without judgement can help you figure out a lot about the sort of products you might be best at selling, and which character you would read the best.
When you’re figuring out how to describe your voice, be as precise as you possible can. If you come up with a misleading description for your voiceover, you could give a potential client quite a shock when they actually hear you. Use these words as keywords for helping you create your online persona.
While this practice might seem exclusive to those breaking into the voiceover acting world, it can be useful for a variety of individuals. For example, a high-powered CEO may intimidate his employees and have a hard time being personable, or alternatively, may struggle with being too friendly and need to come across as being more authoritative. With this exercise, you can figure out what adjustments you need to make in your voice for a wide variety of applications.
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