Tricks of the Trade – Tips for Practice Sessions
Every job has secrets and things that make jobs a little easier and better. Take a look at this article, written by the incredible Susan Berkley called “Top 6 ‘Best Practices’ for Productive Voice Over Practice Sessions,” and let us know what you think.
Anything to add to the list? We’re all ears! Leave your comments below.
You don’t need me to sell you on the benefits of practice I’m sure. We all know it makes perfect. But what’s the best way to practice your voice over skills to improve and get more comfortable behind the mic?
Turns out there are some “best practices” for practicing voice over I’ve honed over the years and I’m happy to share them with you here.
- Block out some time
15 minutes a day is all you need. Yeah, I know. Time is scarce for all of us. But if you need to get up a few minutes early or go to bed a few minutes later to make sure you have time to practice, do it. I promise you it will be well worth it. 15 minutes a day on a consistent basis will make a big difference.
- Assemble your gear
To really get the most out of a voice over practice session, you should plan on recording your voice. It’s not enough to merely read the copy. At the very least, you’ll need a professional USB microphone that plugs directly into your computer. You can get a good one for around $100. The built in mic or little external microphone that comes with your computer isn’t good enough to give you accurate feedback on your performance and the sound of your voice. Other than that, you’ll need s a good pair of headphones. The headphones should be closed ear to block out any outside noises. Sennheiser and Sony make a good pair of professional head phones for about $99. In a pinch, a good set of ear buds will do but be sure to upgrade to professional headphones later.
- Download some free recording software
Audacity is an easy to use freeware that works on the PC or MAC. Google it for the download link. If you’re on a MAC you can also use the Garageband software that came with your computer. After a few practice sessions you’ll get the hang of how to record and edit your files. For help check out my Home Studio How To program at www.homestudiohowto.com
- Find a voice model
One of the easiest and best ways to learn a new skill is by modeling someone who is already successful. Fortunately in our business, it’s easy to find samples of working voice actors just by turning on the TV or radio and listening to commercials. But it’s even easier to go to www.voicebank.net. Here you will find the demos of thousands of successful voice talent. Everybody on this site is represented by a talent agent. Using the category listings, find a few talents whose vocal type is similar to yours and model the voices you hear on the demos. As a professional courtesy, please be sure you don’t take copy from other voice talents demos to use on your demo when you make it.
- Tape and Ape
Find some voice actors you like on TV and radio commercials and record their spots. Transcribe the copy. (TIP: turn on the closed caption option to see the words on the screen) Then, turn on your recorder and try to imitate your voice model word for word, exactly as they did it. Now compare your voice to the professional. How’d you do? Keep trying until you can match the professionals pitch, tone, inflection, pacing and feeling
- Find An Experienced Coach
Although these practice guidelines are useful, there’s no substitute for a great coach who can help you create a step by step development plan and prepare you for your demo. We have several programs at The Great Voice Company where we can work with you remotely or in a professional studio at our Voice Over Boot camp Recording studio Immersion Experience. It all starts with a call to our talent advisor Bill Rapp at 800-333-8108 x229 or [email protected]
Susan Berkley is a top voice over artist and founder of The Great Voice Company, a company devoted to teaching great voices around the world how to become successful voice over actors. The Great Voice Company is an international leader in voice over training and in providing top quality voice over recordings in all languages to discerning businesses and marketers. For additional information visit www.greatvoice.com