Building your VO expertise shouldn’t stop when you leave class. Here are three tips for practicing your VO performance!
1. Learn the art of paraphrasing.
Being an excellent voice actor means you know how to get to the heart of the copy writer’s message. We turn written word into spoken word and make it sound natural. In order to do that, we need to understand what the heck it is we’re talkin’ about!
Sure, we want to tell a great nuanced story, work our exceptional mic technique, and be mindful of how we ‘sound’, but are you ever guilty of focusing too much on how your voice sounds and overlooking the key points the writer is making? (We’ve all done it!)
Remember in school, when your teacher asked you to summarize a book or a chapter in your own words? Paraphrasing, baby! As a voice actor, it’s critical to be able to understand the general message of the copy well enough that you can put it in your own words in a sentence or two—well enough that you can paraphrase it!
To paraphrase a script, ask yourself these questions: What’s the main objective of this script? What’s the big idea(s) the writer wants to drive home?
Then, flip the script over (so you can’t see it—no cheating!) and then say, in your own words, out loud, the general message that the writer is communicating. If you can’t say it in your own words yet, read it again until you can…
Boom! You did it!
Next, quickly flip the script back over and begin reading your script again out loud. What do you know? It sounds way more conversational and less announcer-y or read-y.
When you put the copy in your own words, you tap into a more conversational YOU. And that’s what producers want—you!
2. Fall in love with lead-ins.
Another great benefit to paraphrasing scripts is that you can use paraphrasing as a lead-in.
What’s a lead-in? A lead-in is an unscripted word or phrase you say right before you start reading a script. I describe it as a little performance “trampoline” you can use to bounce into your actual “script-reading.”
Holy cow does it help! It’s a miracle worker. Why is that? Well, when you start reading without a lead-in, sometimes it takes a sentence or two of reading before you find your stride or momentum—before you settle in to that script. If you add a lead-in, by the time you get to the first sentence of the script, you’ll nail it. This is super important, because do you know what the most important sentence of the script is?
You guessed it! The first sentence! How your first sentence lands on the ear will dictate whether or not that casting director or client will continue listening.
(Now, do me and yourself a favor and rock that read all the way through, but if you’re gonna stress over any part of an audition… make it the very first sentence. First impressions count!)