Updated: Jul 4, 2021
Training, learning and coaching is all well and good. It can really help you get from good to great. Yet you must be very careful about one thing. Don’t let it change who you are. Now, if you have a speech impediment then that is different. What I mean is – don’t change how you talk because you want to be like *insert famous person here* or because you don’t like they way you talk. Do you think Gilbert Gottfried or Fran Drescher would have been as successful if it wasn’t for their unique voices?
And that is the point. Whether you like it or not, you bring a uniqueness to a voiceover that nobody else can replicate easily. Rather than train in such a way to have that removed in the quest to sound a certain way (usually more professional – whatever that is!), embrace your natural sound. Become friends with it. Learn to honor your true self and bring that to every performance behind the microphone.
I am fortunate that I have always been OK with my voice. I have just accepted the way it is, and I am really comfortable with that. Yes, I can change how it sounds for certain types of reads, but it always comes from a genuine place. It is me. Not me trying to be someone that a coach has trained me to be. If that makes sense! A coach should bring out the best in you, not change who you are.
This is my biggest tip for success in the voice over business. Practice being OK with your voice. Do it so much that when you walk into the booth, you are comfortable with who you are that nothing changes when you start recording. That is when the magic happens. It gives you a freedom that is hard to describe and impossible to teach in my opinion. It took me nearly 3 years to discover it.
Be patient. For some people it is natural for them to speak into a microphone. For others, it is a learned skill. The litmus test is being honest with yourself. Do you talk into the microphone with the same comfort as you talk to a friend? You don’t put on a false persona to talk to your friends so why do it to the microphone? Now, if you are interested in animation and video games, you will be creating characters. I still believe these characters must come from a centered, honest place.
So next time you are in the booth, take a moment to see if you change who you are and how you speak before you start recording. Obviously, there are going to be some subtle differences. What I’m talking about is BIG changes. Does the microphone do something strange? Does it mess with your head? If so, don’t lose hope. Know that continual practice and training with a great coach (that isn’t trying to change you) will get you to a happy place. It may take longer than you expect but it is so worth the work.
Now, I just had a weird thought, is putting Gilbert Gottfried and Fran Drescher in the same room similar to the Ghostbusters crossing streams?