By Amber O’Neill
Have you ever seen a commercial or heard a radio ad that almost hit on the “guy next door” sound, but narrowly missed and for some reason came off creepy and robotic? It’s like those videos they used to wheel in on the TV cart in middle school (this was well before Smart Boards) on days our teacher didn’t want to deal with the drama that was our 11-year-old lives. You know the videos I’m talking about -- the one where a man in a turtleneck walked on screen, looked the camera dead in the eye and said, “Oh, didn’t see you there,” and then proceeded to teach us about photosynthesis or whatever.
Sounding genuine can be hard. The voice-over industry is changing, and voice talent have caught onto the value of having a home studio. It allows them to accommodate the crazy deadlines associated with working in this industry while keeping costs down. A lot of our successful talent are recording their audio in a small soundproofed room (sometimes even a closet!). Imagine how difficult it is to sound genuine and friendly when you’re talking to yourself in a closet all day.
Professional voice-over talent all have their own tricks to ensuring their auditions are genuine, consistent, and believable. Some will keep a mirror in their studio and talk to themselves while they’re auditioning, as it helps them bring a more conversational element to their voice. Others will put up photos and audition as if they were speaking to their friends or family.
Tips to keep in mind:
1) Read with a smile. In most cases, when a client is asking for a conversational and upbeat read, they want consumers to feel a connection with the message or product. You will notice a huge difference in your tonality if you start recording as if the target audience is in the studio with you.
2) Slow your speech down. Think of how you would normally talk to someone, especially when engaged in meaningful conversation.
3) Think heart-to-heart. People want to hear from someone they trust, so you have to speak as though you're conversing with someone you know well who trusts you.
Finding what would work best for you is important. More and more we are seeing requests for a genuine voice that can penetrate the barriers society has put up against hearing an obvious sales pitch. It’s almost like you need to remind your audience of their mother, sister, father, brother, crazy aunt, or eccentric best friend for them to really listen and retain the message.
What are your techniques? How do you maintain a conversational tone throughout a long narration?
Amber O’Neill is the Commercial Account Manager at Voices.com. She welcomes your correspondence at