There are three skill areas for a Voiceover Artist to work on. Within each of them are many, often surprising, sub-areas and very particular skills and abilities a successful voice actor needs.
Professional voice actors work on their VOCAL, TECHNICAL and BUSINESS SKILLS
Now what I’m going to go through here might seem overwhelming but you have to remember that all of us can learn all of these. We might be more naturally skilled in some areas but successful voiceover artists balance their time and energy between all three. Doing so can propel you to the next level of work and income.
All three of these areas are interlinked. You could have the ‘perfect voice’ but not be creating the opportunities for work; you may be a marvel at networking and marketing but does your vocal skill level meet what you’ve written about yourself, what you have promised to deliver? Without the technical understanding, the ability to edit swiftly and professionally from your home studio, can you sustain your business? Probably not if a 5-minute job ends up taking hours each time.
Most professional voice actors have undergone some form of voice acting training or had acting classes. A good voice actor understands that voice acting is not just about having a great voice. Read on to understand what you need to do make the most of your natural talent.
What skills do you need for voice-overs?
VOCAL SKILLS a voiceover needs
- master of your voice
- understand the mechanism
- maintain your vocal quality
- healthy habits
- physical fitness
- great breath control
- sight reading
- acting and character ability
- interpreting copy
- responsive to direction
- flexible and playful
You need to be the master of your voice. To call yourself a voice over artist, you must understand the mechanism of voice and be able to maintain your vocal quality. This means looking after your voice so that it doesn’t let you or your business down. It’s your number one tool after all.
Professional voice actors have healthy habits, such as decent hydration and avoiding behaviours which might damage the voice. Dry mouth sounds horrid at the mic so be in the habit of regularly drinking water throughout the day. Aspiring voice actors must act as pros from day one if they are to succeed. The voice over industry is huge and there are plenty of opportunities but it is also very competitive.
Physical fitness – this is often overlooked as we might think that the work involves stillness at a microphone – but to have great breath control and stamina a decent level of fitness is needed.
How’s your sight reading (or cold-reading)? Can you simply pick up the copy and nail it with zero mistakes in one take? Access the largest voiceover script library to practice today!
Acting and character ability – are you working on these already? Would you be ready to perform character voices or know how to use your voice to create an emotion from the listener? Sometimes you need to get your whole body into it!
Interpreting copy – delivering the message – can you spot what is important in a script and satisfy the client and the audience with your performance? Giving life to sometimes poorly written copy is what differentiates the good voice actor from the not-so-good.
Responsive to direction – how are you at taking feedback and working to achieve the desired outcome when recording? Those at the very top of the voice over industry get booked time and time again because they know how to make almost surgical adjustments when delivering the words.
Aural – a voice actor needs to be able to monitor their voice by ear with precision. You’ll need good equipment for audio recording. Voice over is as much about listening as it is talking.
Flexible and playful – similar to being able to take direction but a VO needs to be able to shake it up and deliver fresh performances and bring ideas to the session. Acting classes can help.
Avoid getting tongue-tied in a session by regularly working on tongue twisters. Here’s our massive collection of tongue twisters for voiceover artists.
All of these, and more, will help you to improve your voice acting.
TECHNICAL SKILLS a voiceover needs
- microphone technique
- understanding of acoustics
- time management
- dealing with data
Microphone technique – knowing how to interact effectively with the microphone. This is something you must practice religiously. The first image that comes to mind when we hear the term ‘voice overs’ is often the microphone.
Understanding of acoustics – when we record we need to make sure that the source quality is optimised. A pro VO will be able to hear flaws in the recording such as too much reverb, hiss, hum or other background noise and more. Voice actors are generally recording from their own home with simple recording gear. You’d don’t need a professional recording studio to start recording. However, you do need to embrace ‘audio engineering’ as it is expected that you will be able to deliver recordings of your voice with decent sound quality. Listen to how your voice sounds when you record. Listen to other voice actors.
Time management – not really a technical ability but when it comes to running a DIY home studio you need to be in control of your time and just how much time you spend on a particular task – I am always encouraging VOs to streamline their processes – part of this would be speeding up editing by practising regularly. If you are booked for a recording session you need to be ready!
Dealing with data – a VO can be working with multiple files throughout the day so having a clear manageable system is very important for you and for the client.
Achieving a consistent quality – on the receiving end of voiceover recording I have lost count of the amount of times I have received a file named ‘voiceover’ – this is useless – files should be clearly named at all times – much of this, of course, is just common sense.
BUSINESS SKILLS a voiceover needs
To reiterate, having a nice voice is useful and diving into the tech side is essential but fully engaging with the fact that you are running a business is the KEY to achieving your goals in voiceover. We cover all of this in the full Voiceover Kickstart membership so you’ll know exactly what to do whether you are launching or wanting to develop your business. You must aim for balance in all three areas and development in all three areas – Vocal, Tech and Business.
To practice your sight-reading, grab a script from the voiceover script library and out loud without making a single mistake!
A Professional Voice Actor is highly organised. They are excellent communicators and can create and develop relationships. They are great at effectively planning and understand the need to have a marketing strategy which includes social media.
Voice Actors can confidently deal with the management of money and decision-making when it comes to investment. We cover this in our session on Money Matters including voiceover rates, contracts and much more.
They know how to update their website, keeping it relevant and interesting and useful for potential clients. Everything about them from interactions through to branding exudes the highest level of professionalism.
They are friendly, easy to work with and a superb team-player.
How do you get better at voice over?
It is essential to take stock of your voice acting skills and work out exactly what could be improved upon.
To speed all of this up and and help to identify your strengths and weaknesses and particular techniques to improve your voice acting skills and your career, it’s worth engaging a voice acting coach. I specialise in helping the voice actor to get a career plan in place and know how to action it. You can book a session with me here.
For hundreds of other free voice acting tips, go ahead and explore our resources here.
How To Become A Voice Actor
Don’t forget, without spending one penny you can access the free voiceover course ‘The Recorded Voice‘. This covers lots of really useful stuff and is suitable for not only beginners but also any voice actor who wants to develop their career. To get out of your comfort zone, our full membership will challenge you to improve with regular live sessions.
Get the most out of your recording gear, improve your acting skills, learn how to impress casting directors and make your mark in the voiceover industry. Learn how to improve voice over skills with Voiceover Kickstart today!