Now that you are familiar with the various styles of voice acting, it’s time to “get good”, and the first step is learning to read aloud, flawlessly.
There are no two ways about it, you’re going to have to put in the time, and practice. A lot.
The first step, is learning how to read. If you’ve made it this far, you’re most of the way there. Now try this: read everything from the beginning of this article, aloud, at a natural pace.
Done? Did you stumble? Did you hesitate anywhere? If so, do it again. And again. And again. Record it on your smartphone too (more on that at the end of this article). Time is money in a studio, and you might read the same line 10 or more times before the bevy of executives on the other side of the glass. To lose what would have been “the perfect take” because you stumbled on a word can really take the wind out of everyone’s sails, including your own.
Here are some tips on how to read out loud more effectively:
- Reformat the punctuation
Often the written word for reading, doesn’t roll off the tongue so well when spoken. Also a long sentence that, grammatically, wouldn’t require any breaks or commas, could be hard to do in one breath. As I’ve always said, do your homework. You’ll often get the script in advance, so practice it on your own first, and move/add/change punctuation so it will be easier to perform when you get in studio.
- While speaking one sentence, learn to read the next
This is an absolute must. Your eyes need to be faster than your mouth. Toss in a little bit of memory, some multi-tasking, and you’ve got it. Scan a sentence really quick, chances are a quick glance will get you everything you need to say in one shot. Maybe you’ll need a quick second peek, and then store that in memory for your mouth. As you start saying that sentence from memory, your eyes are off to the next sentence, and so forth. Now you know how hard it is to be a real-time interpreter!
- Add your own special notes
This expands on my first tip. Once you can manage to get the words off the page and out of your mouth at a natural pace, now it’s time to make it come alive! Certain phrases might require a mini-pause of sorts, in which case I like to place an·interpunct (that thing after “an”, and yes, I had to Google what it’s actually called). Other words you really want to stress, you might underline. If it’s a commercial, anytime you say the product or client, you often want to imagine it on a *giant flashing billboard*, so I’d surround the product with asterisks (I knew that one). Personally, I take it a lot further, and have all sorts of crazy notes, but I highly recommend coming up with your own style.
In the end, it will all come down to practice. So for now, read lots of stuff aloud, whatever you can get your hands on. Even if it’s something from a video game or on YouTube. Transcribe it, and then practice that. I highly recommend recording everything you do as much as possible. When you’re performing a script, you are multi-tasking between reading and speaking, you have to consider your diction, cadence, melody, etc. It’s hard to then have an internal “recorder” of sorts. If you’ve taken anything away from this article, it should be to make things easier for yourself if you can. You’ve got a recorder right there, you’ve got a pen to make notes, use them, and “get good”.
All the best,
P.S. If you are in Montreal and are interested in becoming a voice actor, Helene Rousse (Casting Director at Total Casting, and experienced voice over artist) offers a monthly, one day course that I highly recommend. The morning is spent with Helene and up to 5 other students maximum, where you go over each-other’s strengths and weaknesses, practice scripts, etc.. During the afternoon, you join me in studio to record a professional voice demo. The next English class is November 12th, French November 19th.