Voiceover phantom

There are a lot of great resources that can help you find the perfect voiceover artist for your business video (VoiceBunny is our personal choice). That being said, maybe you’re something of an actor yourself. Or maybe you know someone who is so charismatic, engaging, and personable that they’re just right for the role you have in mind.

Granted, professional voiceovers aren’t very expensive, but we understand that everyone has a budget. So, if you ever find yourself thinking about doing an in-house voiceover, just make sure to pass these 9 tips on to your reader.

1. When preparing, read aloud

This might seem intuitive, since so many of our elementary school teachers stressed the importance of enunciation and pronunciation, but you’d be surprised by the number of readers who stumble all over their lines when it’s time to deliver the goods.

Reading aloud during practice can seem like a chore, but it’s essential to any good voiceover. Not surprising, since reading is a feedback loop. Your brain has to process what your eyes are seeing before your lips can form the words. Even then, inflection and intonation are not always intuitive, especially for longer sentences.

2. Imagine the face of your audience

This isn’t very intuitive unless you’ve taken acting classes. But when you’re reading to a mic or a wall, you will be unable to simulate real dialogue.

Great actors get into character by imagining the action projected onto the greenscreen. Doing that on camera is much harder than doing it for an audio recording, so there’s nothing to be nervous about. You don’t even have to pretend anyone is in their underwear.

3. Lead in, and follow through

A clean free throw is a play in 3 parts: square up, shoot the ball, follow-through. You can certainly make a jumper on the fly, but the standard form remains the most reliable.

It’s the same for voiceovers. A clean voiceover may mean that you have to lead into your lines with a few made-up lines of your own. If the first words are, “Hi, my name is…”, it can be easy to butcher the delivery. Reading may sound more natural if you start by saying “Attention! Everyone listening? Good. Hi, my name is…”.

4. Do some tongue twisters beforehand

Another veteran method of preparing for a reading is by doing tongue-twisters. Acapella groups do this with voice warm-ups that require them to hit different octaves and contort their lips in strange ways. Voiceover artists do this with rapid-fire tongue twisters that loosen up their jaws and nerves.

A particularly good one is “toy boat.” Try saying that quickly 10 times in a row…


5. Don’t be afraid to tap into your emotions

Because emotive reading is good reading.

Whenever a consumer reads a chunk of standard, uninspired copy on a website, they’ll actually read it in such a way that it sounds more interesting in their heads (it’s how all college students get through English class). But when you have someone do a standard, dumb-dumb voiceover, you don’t get the benefit of the doubt.

A lot of actors tap into their own memories and emotions in order to make scenes more compelling. While there is actually a school of thought that discourages this (e.g. an arm of method acting), it is still the simplest way for a non-actor to get into character.

6. Take your hands out of your pockets!

You would never keep your hands in your pockets during an interview, so you shouldn’t do it during a voiceover. Even though no one can see you, body language still affects self-perception and projection. A confident voice requires confident body language, and gesturing while speaking naturally makes reading more vibrant and dynamic.

7. Don’t try to be a voice that you’re not

Also the number one reason non-actors should just hire a voiceover artist to do their reading for them.

Consumers, customers, listeners – they’re always going to be smarter than you give them credit for. If your voiceover is done by someone who either doesn’t believe in what they’re saying or isn’t the right fit for the tone, your listeners will detect it. And they won’t be impressed.

8. Know your place

If your script comes at a certain point in the video, or if there are several speakers, it’s important to know where you come in. Who are you in relation to the other speakers? If you’re learning something from a mentor, sound like a good listener. What is your character supposed to be doing? Running? Then run in place. Is this the first video in a series or the eighth? There are dozens of things you should figure out before a reading that can dramatically improve the quality of your voiceover. Most of them just involve asking who, what, where, when, and why?

9. Have fun

Intuitive? We sure hope so. Whether it’s reading, writing, singing, or dancing – if you aren’t enjoying yourself, neither will your audience.

So get out there, warm up your vocal cords, and show Mark Hamill what you’re made of!