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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.


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 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.