It’s not just voiceover, it’s voice ACTING! We are super excited to talk about acting in our first “Boss Performance” episode! Every read has a character, even eLearning and Corporate Narration. Join VO Boss Anne Ganguzza and special guest Liz Atherton as they discuss the importance of sharpening your acting skills and going beyond the read.
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:
Acting is important as a voiceover artist
Acting is the difference between being hired and not being hired
The delivery and uniqueness of your voice is what will get you booked
You must understand the character that you are before you step in front of the microphone!
Even in eLearning and corporate narration, you are a character
Your scene partner in voiceover, is usually the person listening
Be the on-air commercial actor and talk to the person listening on the couch
You have to be present and deliver your lines with sincerety
Authenticity as the character is what gets you booked
For every genre of voiceover you have to develpo who you are, and who you’re talking to
Sometimes you need to channel a person that you know
When you walk in to the booth, you want the director to be able to feel you as that character
Dress in character, yes, even in your booth
As your character, what were you doing before the script started?
It’s important in the middle and in between sentences, that you are in a scene
There should be movement in a scene
You must respond to what is happening in the scene
If you’re talking to a kid, talk down to a “booth buddy” who is the height of a child
Imagine that the person you are talking to is right behind your copy
Everybody can buy good equipment and have a professional studio, but you need to be able to act, to have your niche
If you’re not able to act, AI bots can take your job
Take an acting class
Take improv classes
Work with voiceover coaches consistently throughout your career
If you wouldn’t pause when you’re speaking naturally, don’t pause in your script
Referenced in this Episode
Direct links to things we brought up ++
Voice acting means constant coaching, find out about coaching with Anne and sign up for your FREE 15 minute consult
Learn from some of the best in our Monthly VO Peeps Workouts
Find out about Castvoices.com
Recorded on ipDTL
Awesome editing by Carl Bahner
>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premier business owner strategies and successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS. Now let’s welcome your host Anne Ganguzza.
Anne: Hey everyone, welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host Anne Ganguzza along with my special guest cohost Liz Atherton. Hey Liz.
Liz: I know how you’re trying to add your little old Texas accent, honey. I gotcha. That’s one place I got you beat. That’s it.
Anne: I gotcha. I gotcha. I gotcha.
Liz: Speaking of accents, Anne, we can just talk about acting and all sorts of things.
Anne: Well you know, Liz, you bring such a great perspective of acting to this industry because not only are you a voiceover but you’re also – ran an agency that was on camera, all types of acting. Let’s talk acting and why acting is so important in our careers. I know we seem to like go over this time and time again, but I think it’s gonna be really neat to hear from your perspective how it can help us enhance our careers.
Liz: I think it’s the difference between being hired and not being hired. I mean, hands down. So over the last 20 years as an agent, it has evolved from “give me that good announcer that I can tell me and sell me what he needs to do” to e-learning and all of that’s relatively new to being able to deliver a class with a voice, to podcast, to this, to that, the other thing. The straight just announcer y take, although I do think it’s coming back.
Anne: A lot of people will be happy to hear that.
Liz: Mark my words. Jingles are coming back and I’ve said this in some of our other conversations, but every single thing talks to you. Everything. And if all of the voices sound alike that are coming through, remember everything was conversational there for a while, everything. And if everything is conversational, then you begin to just naturally tune it out.
Anne: Which is why trends come and go I think.
Liz: Exactly. That’s why I think jingles are coming back.
Anne: I agree with you. There’s a cycle of trends. There’s a cycle of trends that are coming back.
Liz: The announcery voice is going to come back. Jingles are going to come back to some degree. But here’s where I was really trying to go with that is the delivery and the uniqueness of your voice. We talked in another podcast about having several voices in your back pocket. Let’s say you have five, and one of them is your mom voice and then one of them is your e-learning, “let me just get the information to you” voice. And then another one might be a character that you’ve developed voice. So on and so forth. All of those require you to understand the character that you are before you step in front of the mic.
Anne: Oh yeah. Even genres that people think don’t require a character, really all of them do because something like e-learning, if it’s e-learning, you’re a teacher. There’s your character. If it’s corporate – and these are my specialties – if it’s corporate narration, then you’re an employee of the company typically, and you have to be that character that’s speaking to usually peers in order to make a sell or to inform.
Liz: You have to understand that character, especially if that character is going to be a repeat character, in your genre of voiceover, you need to catalog that character. You need to know what the character would wear. I know this all may sound like really too far, but it’s not. I mean like, Anne, you and I having a conversation right now, we’re not acting. We’re just talking. We’re two good friends who are talking about things that we think people want to hear. But if you told me, Liz, I need you to sell T-Mobile, immediately I’m gonna change. Maybe I’m gonna pick up my pace, and I’m gonna step into this – again, I’m not a voiceover actor.
Anne: You’re going to be in a scene.
Liz: But I’m gonna be in a scene, and my scene partner may be human, someone in the scene with me, or more than likely as a voiceover, your scene partner is the person listening. And so if you’re that person delivering a line or the copy to the car. You’re literally not in a car with people, but you have to imagine you’re in a car with people. That’s the listening audience on the other side of the mic.
Anne: I know a lot of times when I’m having people create a scene, and who they’re talking to, if it’s a commercial, a lot of times, I’ll tell them to be the on air commercial actor and talk to the person on the couch that’s listening.
Anne: Which is an interesting character to be.
Liz: It is an interesting character to be. But Anne, learning and helping as their coach, right, and walking them through those steps, that’s really important. Learning how to be able to deliver those lines with sincerity and being present and being that voice, as opposed to a person, you know, acting out of the voice.
Liz: I hope you understood –
Liz: Authenticity. And that comes with skill and that comes with trying to do it. To me that authenticity as the character or as the announcer or as the e-learning or as the corporate, that authenticity is what gets you the role. Hands down, it’s not what you look like, it’s not what you wear. Your studio set up may have a little bit to do with it, but it’s how you deliver those lines.
Liz: We recently did an interview with Tom Kane, where he was talking about an audition he went into. He walked in and they weren’t who he was expecting. He said “well, listen to me. It’s all about the character.” And so he has, he develops his voices as characters and every one of them is a character voice. And that comes through with acting, not who the person is delivering the lines. It doesn’t matter what he looks like. It’s about how he’s delivering the lines as the character.
Anne: Yeah. And I think, I think we have to be careful here, where I don’t want people to confuse character with character acting. I think for every genre of voiceover, you need to develop who you are and who you’re talking to. That who you are is your character. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have 20 characters in your back pocket like you would hear on a character demo. I think it just has to be 20 different authentic voices of people that may be – I’m not going to say the word mimic, but you’re channeling a character through somebody that you know, or somebody that you’ve worked with in the past that can help you to get to that particular voice.
Liz: It’s just like with the on-camera. If you’re going in, and you’re auditioning for a role, and they have to see you, when you walk in, you’re in essence of that character. I mean, you’re still the same human body that walks in the room, but as you go in, you’re the essence of the character that you are performing, so people can see and hear you and feel you as that character. When you’re the voice character, they can’t see you, but they can hear you, and you want them to be able to feel you as that character as well. And the more authentic you are, the more likely you are to get the job.
Anne: So question, question then. Question then. A lot of people will say, well, how do I sound authentic? How do I get myself into character? Do you have any tips or tricks from all those years of casting both on, you know, on-camera and voiceover for our BOSSes? Yeah, and as an agent?
Liz: As being an agent, and I’ve done some voiceover coaching and I think I’m okay at it. You’d all do it much better, but there’s just sometimes I can help people relax, but that said, if you’re a mom, and this is going to be, it may sound trite, but as a mom, before you step into your booth, you know, are you the mom that’s in her pajamas with the rollers in her hair? Are you the mom that’s the corporate woman that’s got her suit on? Are you the mom at the soccer field? Which mom are you for the role that you’re trying to do? And whether you’re a quote unquote mom in real life to fur babies or human babies or whatever, that can play into the essence. You might have a feeling, but sometimes you’re not, so you have to act what you believe that character would be. Some of the tips and tricks, dress in character. Think about it, dress in character.
Liz: Other things to think, what were you doing before you had the conversation that you’re recording for the copy for the gig? As your character –
Anne: Oh, I think that’s super important.
Liz: What were you doing? If you’re a soccer mom, did you go out with your friends and have a glass of wine before you went to pick up the kids? Let’s say no.
Anne: Let’s hope not. [laughs]
Liz: Let’s hope not. [laughs]
Anne: No drinking and driving. [laughs]
Liz: No drinking and driving, especially you can’t have even a sip with a kid in your car. Yeah ok, so bad, bad example there.
Anne: [laughs] How about having a cup of coffee with a friend?
Liz: You were having a cup of coffee with a friend.
Anne: Before you go pick up your kids, yes.
Liz: Right. What were y’all talking about? And even if you just jot these things down now, so you put down a couple notes, had coffee with a friend, we talked about her house for sale, and we talked about my dog, right? Just house, dog and coffee. So now you’re in the middle of recording your copy, and you see those notes, and you remember, oh yeah, that was going on, and it keeps you in character.
Anne: Well I think – I’m sorry. I was going to say, I think that’s an important note, because I know a lot of people who do a ton of work setting up the scene, and then they’ll pick up a copy, and they’ll just read from left to right, and then, what happened to your scene that you did all that work setting up? So I think it’s important that in the middle and in between sentences, you remember that you’re in that scene, and you’ve figured out that maybe things have moved. Right? I like to hear movement in a scene when I’m instructing my students. There has to be like, what just happened? Okay, and so now you’re responding to what? You know, what did the other person say? Did they nod an agreement, did they ask a question? And if so, are you responding to them? Because I think that really helps to create a true, engaging experience and a true interactive acting experience.
Liz: I totally agree. Someday one of these things I’m gonna create are these things I call booth buddies. They’re three-dimensional, imagine you take a Styrofoam head, and you cut off the back of it, and you put some Velcro on it and you decorate it, and it’s a new twist on how people hang up pictures in their booths. So now you’ve got a booth buddy. Your scene is – And you talk to it. If your scene is you’re talking to a child, move the booth buddy down. You’re still going to speak into your mic, but you’re going to be looking down talking to a kid. It’s a subtle difference, but it makes a difference. It helps keep you in character. It helps remind you that you’re talking to a child. You’re still speaking into the mic, but your frame of reference, your eyes, everything else are different. Those kind of tricks help. Same thing if you’re talking to a peer, whatever.
Anne: Yeah, I’ve got one two where I always say, imagine that the person’s face is on the other side of the piece of paper. Because it’s so important to never take your eyes off the copy. I’m always telling people to just look at that piece of copy as if that’s the person you’re talking to. Their face is right behind that copy. And that way you can gesture, you can react, you can talk to, and you won’t be, you won’t have to get nervous that you’re going to lose your place or you know, mess up on a word or skip a line.
Liz: Right, and in a perfect world, if it’s a little bit of copy, be really familiar with it so you’re not glued. But sometimes you don’t have time. Sometimes copy comes in, you’re on to the next, and onto the next, and onto the next. But if you have an opportunity to prepare in your scene, memorize as much as you can. Don’t make yourself not be able to look, but then you can be even more natural if you understand what words are coming.
Anne: Let me ask you a question before you go on because I always recommended not to memorize, because it made people take their eyes off the paper, and then they would skip a word, drop a word, lose a line. Especially for stage actors, because I have actually worked with people who are stage actors. What happens is they’ll drop a line, and I’ll be like, “what just happened there?” They’ll be like “uhh.” “Did you take your eyes off the paper?” “Yes, I did.” So a lot of times they’re trying to be more natural, and they’re looking up, away from the copy. By the time they put their eyes back down, they’ve lost their place. I think that’s just something to be very careful of.
Liz: Very, very aware, and Anne, that’s going to be one of those areas as we move more and more towards where people are going to need to become better actors because they want to book the gigs. I mean like even Camp VO, our real emphasis on camp is acting. We don’t call it out that way, but as you know, as one of the coaches, I have asked you to come and bring your game where it’s interactive with the audience. Because the more and more you learn how to act – I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to make that a shameless plug, it really is a discussion point – because as you move forward in what’s becoming a more and more competitive voiceover world, what’s going to be your niche? Everybody can buy good equipment. Everybody can buy a special studio or something that they can talk from.
Anne: And AI bots can do your job, if you –
Liz: AI bots can do your job.
Anne: If you’re not acting, AI bots will take your job. Right? I’m just going to say that. Like I’m not going to say to be afraid of them, but there are going to be certain genres that I think are going to be suited for AI voices, and those will be those types of things that people are not necessarily concerned that they’re speaking to a human, that they don’t care. Like maybe a help bot. I think that’s awesome. So every other genre where they’re going to require a human being with a human reaction and emotion, that’s where your acting comes in. That’s where I think it’s so important that we hone our skills now, right, our acting skills. It’s so important to hone them now so that we can be successful and keep our jobs as voiceover talent.
Liz: Oh for sure, yeah, you have to. I mean, take an acting class.
Liz: You’re going to meet different people. Always work with the voiceover coaches who knows what they’re doing. Improv. I can’t tell you how important improv is, and all of those things are making you more and more comfortable as you deliver lines. And they got to be believable. One other thing is the pauses. Be careful with your pauses in the delivery of your lines. If you wouldn’t pause when you’re speaking naturally, learn how the actor would do it.
Anne: Yes, that’s a great tip. That’s a great tip. And I’m going to say across the board, every coach that I’ve ever heard, you know, I’ve done multiple guest coaches, you know, through my VO Peeps group and also myself, anytime people pause too much, that’s not necessarily a natural conversational method of acting.
Liz: Yeah, no.
Anne: So watch those pauses and if you wouldn’t do it in normal conversation, don’t do it in your voiceover over. So good stuff, Liz.
Liz: Thank you, Anne. Good stuff with you too, always.
Anne: So I think we could probably talk forever about this.
Anne: Acting, guys.
Liz: I could talk forever just about anything. I’m sorry. It’s just the way it is.
Anne: Acting classes, guys. It’s important. Definitely go take an acting class. Hone your acting skills. It’s going to make you a better voiceover talent and a better BOSS.
Liz: A better BOSS.
Anne: A better BOSS. Big shout-out to our sponsor, ipDTL. I love being able to connect with Liz all the time, just like we’re next to each other, even though you’re under the table right now, in your studio. I’m not quite there with you, but you know what, it sounds like I could be. [laughs]
Liz: We would have our own thing, we’d eat under here, our feet would hang out.
Anne: There you go. We could just hang. You know what, and we just couldn’t do that without the magic of ipDTL. [laughs] We love you guys over there. You guys can find out more at ipdtl.com. All right, guys. Have a great week and we’ll see you next week.
Liz: Bye-bye, everybody.
>> Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host, Anne Ganguzza, and take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at voboss.com and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast-to-coast connectivity via ipDTL.
Anne: So it does make a difference, ethernet.
Liz: Oh yeah, for sure. Oh, you were right about it all.
Anne: Well, thank you. [laughs]
Liz: I’m sorry. [laughs]
Anne: Carl, that’s an outtake. Yes.
Anne: What was that, Liz? What did you just say? I was right about it all?
Liz: …yes, you were. I just, and I didn’t mean to argue with you. I’m just learning.
Anne: Oh no, you didn’t argue with me.
Liz: I just think I’m smarter than I really am, that’s just all it boils down to. [laughs]
Anne: Oh my God.
Anne: Well, I think it’s [laughs] Carl. Carl, so what’s happening is I’m trying to like kind of get in some conversation, Liz –
Anne: And, and, and I, and I, and I keep, and I can’t.
Liz: Because I’m talking too much.
Anne: A little bit.
Liz: Active listening, fine. Okay.
Anne: Just a little bit. That would be great.
Liz: I’m sorry, Anne. I’m not meaning to.
Anne: No, that’s – I know that. Now I lost my train of thought. I had a comment and it was back a few phrases ago, and I lost it.
Liz: Like a month.
Anne: It was like a month ago before I could get my word in edgewise. But [laughs]
Liz: Sorry, so sorry.
Anne: This is great. So what we just talking about, damn it. You were talking about Tom Kane. Okay, let’s kind of go back to that.
Anne: Liz, we got so many good outtakes.
Liz: But Carl, I told you, did you hear me, I’m his favorite. He’s going to be nice to me.
Anne: No, Carl, I’m your favorite. Carl.
Liz: No Carl, I’m your favorite.
Anne: Who writes the check? Carl. [laughs]
Anne: C-Carl, C-C-C-Carl.
Liz: Sexy Texan Carl.
Anne: [laughs] Oh my God! You’re just ugh. I’m going to go for the brain aspect –
Liz: Oh Carl…
Anne: [laughs] You’re like the sex aspect. I’m brain. So Carl, let’s talk –
Liz: [laughs] Carl.
Anne: – technology. Let’s talk –
Liz: Carl, Carl. Two and two are four.
Anne: – technology and audio waves. Carl –
Liz: Four and four are eight.
Anne: Let’s talk audio waves, shall we?
Liz: Eight and eight are –
Anne: Audio waves.
Liz: – sex-teen. [laughs] Got to stop!
Anne: Let’s talk about the audio interface.
Liz: That’s just where you plug something in. That’s the same thing.
Anne: So many parallels. Okay, here we go. Let’s start.