Voice-Over Training: How to Get Started

3d objectIf you enjoy speaking publicly and easily draw people in with your voice, you’ve got a gift that could turn you a profit if used correctly. Voice-over performers are needed in many areas of communication, including commercial advertising, corporate communications, entertainment, journalism, and publishing. Most voice-over work is recorded, but some professionals may perform live (but out of sight) during a dramatic or informational presentation. Those voice-over performers who can adjust their tone to sound authoritative or persuasive, humorous or pompous, or who can become any of a number of different characters on demand can make a good living in this line of work. If your gift is your voice and you love performing, you may have the skills to become a voice-over artist. A great place to start with voice over training is with understanding the basics of how to enhance your natural speaking voice, something that you can learn more about with this great Udemy course.

You can also check out our blog post on How To Get Into Voice-Acting for Non-Actors for more information on to get started. But before you do that, why not get a more in-depth look at voice-over work, voice-over training, and what you need to know.

What Exactly is Voice-Over Work?

Voice-over work — also known as off-stage or off-camera commentary — involves using one’s voice to present commentary or information concurrent with a visual narrative. You can hear voice-over performers on television and radio ads, in audiobooks, films, documentaries and theater productions. The voice-over performer is typically heard and not seen. There may be exceptions in some case. An actor might perform in front of an audience in one scene and only be heard in the next. In films and documentaries, you’ll often hear a voice-over delivering important information that complements or knits together various scenes. A lot of news reports, corporate presentations and video tutorials require voice-over professionals as well.

Special Training is Required

As with any highly skilled profession, it’s important to get training in order to get voice-over work in the first place. This is because it takes a lot of training in order to properly perform this kind of work. A voice-over artist must know how to act with their voice. They must understand various ways to control their inflection and increase their dynamic range.

While you can receive specialized voice-over training the same way that you can learn acting from a drama coach or singing from a voice coach, it can be a good idea to take some lessons on your own in order to determine whether you have the talent and drive for voice-over training. This can also be a good way to get enough training to take on the smaller gigs that will eventually lead to bigger voice-over jobs later on in your career. One place where you can find professional video training that you can learn at your own speed is on Udemy, which offers several popular courses in voice-over training, including Preparing to Record Your Voice.

What Skills Can I Expect to Learn in a Voice-Over Training Course?

There are two important skill sets that are very important to learn. Naturally, your vocal and performance skills come first. Voice-over artists learn some of the same techniques that actors do to make the most of their performance. Among them are lessons on how to control your voice and breathing for a smooth and natural vocal delivery. You’ll also learn how to create a character with your voice and to alter your reading for various dramatic effects. You’ll learn a whole range of vocal exercises, exercises to increase lung capacity and exercises to increase the range of your vocal skills. Your voice is your instrument and the goal is total vocal mastery.

What’s My Line?

A good studio or online course will help you identify your most marketable vocal assets. If you sound like a professional broadcaster, you’re probably a good candidate for news packages, documentaries, corporate videos and certain types of television and radio ads. If your gift lies in doing playful character voices with humor and pizzazz, animation could be in your future. Audiobooks are very popular right. If you have a gift for voicing different characters in a novelistic way, you may be perfect for audio book work. Whatever your talents, use them with confidence. If you find it hard to have the confidence in yourself to get started in any of these areas, Udemy’s course in Confidence: A Practical Guide to Boosting Self-Confidence should be a big help. Once you have identified the professional arena best suited to you, a good studio or online video series can guide you in honing those skills to make you a highly marketable vocal performer.

What About Audio Books?

When you are in the shower, do you find yourself voicing different characters? During conversations with friends, do you find yourself dramatizing a story, including the voices of the people involved? Those are two good clues that you may be perfectly suited for audiobook reading. Audiobook performance is a fast-growing profession. People love listening to audiobooks while they drive or commute to work. Listening to an audiobook makes waiting in a doctor’s office a painless occasion. Publishers have picked up on market for audiobooks and they are running with it! Today, there are certain audio performers who are as well known by their listeners as any famous Broadway star.

As any professional studio, school or online tutorial will tell you, the trick is to find which genre works best with your voice. Certain performers have a gift for voicing characters of different sexes, ages and cultural backgrounds. If you are a woman who can sound like a grandfather or a cowboy; if you are a man who can feminize your voice or sound like a little girl, novels are probably the way to go. Some voice-over performers specialize romance or gothic novels. Gothic novels typically require a performer who can speak English, do English dialects and perform a variety of European accents. Listen to a lot of audio books in different genres and topic areas. You may find you are best suited for non-fiction and self-help books. Once you’ve researched the audiobook vocal performance options, look for training to hone your skills in that direction.

What Do I Need to Know on the Production End?

As you probably realize by now, voice over work is about far more than just having a good voice. This means you will need to have numerous other skills at your disposal, including the production and editing of audio, including voice over work.

While at the professional level you will have someone doing the editing for you, this will not be the case when you are getting started. When you are creating your voice over work demo reel or making videos of your voice over work to post online, you will need to know how to properly edit these materials.

You will also need to learn proper production techniques for the audio itself. During this process you’ll become very familiar with the equipment that voice over professionals use, and may even purchase much of this equipment for yourself. Some of the things you will learn about are the techniques and secrets to using microphones. You will also learn about proper audio recording etiquette, such as the type of clothing that is appropriate to wear. That may sound strange, but keep in mind that certain kinds of fabrics are loud! If your pants make a swishing sound when you cross your legs, it’s time to ditch them — at least for work purposes. Buttons, zippers, facial jewelry, necklaces, bracelets and earrings can be a problem, too. Audio performers know that shirts with buttons on the cuffs or down the front can click on surfaces and be picked up by the microphone. You can learn more about the basics of recording and editing your own voice with Udemy’s course, Audio Editing with Adobe Audition for Voice Actors.

Client Expectations

If you plan to do voice-over work, remember the client is your number one concern. That means understanding the overall goal and intention of the project, and knowing what part they expect you to play to accomplishing that goal. First and foremost is the script. You’ll learn that most of your performance guidance comes in the text’s punctuation and editor’s notes around the margins of the text. You’ll look through this and get a sense of what the client desires. This is known as interpreting the script. It helps to understand proofreading and editors’ marks so you can read the client’s comments more easily. Check out the blog post on Udemy.com on Proofreader’s Symbols and Marks and What They Mean. After a while, you‘ll develop a feel for what a client likes about your voice, so you can play to those characteristics.

Promoting and Marketing Yourself

The final step to getting your name out there in the world of voice-over work, and something that will surprisingly be a crucial part of your voice–over training is marketing and self-promotion. Udemy offers a great course on Marketing Yourself for Career Success that can help you if you have never hard to market yourself before. If you get the right training, figure out which area of voice-over work is best for you, and learn how to sell potential employers on using your voice for their animated video, ad campaign, news broadcast, or audiobook, you could be well on your way to a lucrative and enjoyable career in voice-over work before you know it.