THE EASIEST THING IN THE WORLD OR THE HARDEST?
Aaaaah ... voicing ... it can be the easiest thing to do in the world or the most difficult. People will tell you you have a really nice voice. People will tell you have an awful voice: nasally, shrieking, lispy, high, too low, too soft, too loud, too hyper, too dull ....Don't you know how to talk? What is your voice? Can you find it? Have you lost it? Sometimes, the words will start spinning in your head. Your breath will stop. You'll need foreign substances just to have the courage to start reading your script or to start talking into a microphone. Bring a picture of your loved ones to talk to. Imagine you are on the phone with your hard of hearing grandma. Eat lots of vegetables. Don't drink too much milk. Run to the recording studio. Do pushups. Do yoga. Practice singing. Breathe! Don't you know how to breathe anymore? Your heart will be pumping. Your underarms will stink ... you get the point ...
Here's my list of golden rules for voicing:
Be yourself, let your personality shine through.
Write well, the key to good voicing is good writing.
Smile before and while you voice (unless it's a very sad story).
Be in a good, energetic mood when you voice, not tired and dragging.
Practice smart pausing and pacing (the key is variation).
Be animated while you voice, raise eyebrows, open your mouth.
Have Energy (Don't scream but do project).
Here's a classic Ron Burgundy Anchorman warm-up (above) which I had some of my star students (below) reprise.
THINK OF CONTENT ... COMMUNICATE TO LISTENER ... VOICE WITH CARE ... emphasize the important part of sentences ... usually the verbs ... meaning-laden words ... GET INTO IT ... it's usually much easier to voice something on which you reported on yourself or for which you have an interest ...
Believe in what you are saying, be confident in the work you've put on paper.
Some sentences go together so you string them together ... others dont so you can pause for effect ....
Context / Tone ... match the tone of what you are reading, reporting about.
Diction (don't overdo it but make sure you are understood, speak clearly).
Hear the ts and ps, hear end of words... (try this as an example ... THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA PARTICIPATED IN AN INTERNATIONAL REPATRIATION AND RECONCILIATION CEREMONY)
Keep titles and names together ... straight line .... like when you say your own name ... same as place name East Timorese Jungle ....(Don't sound like a PA announcer announcing a basketball lineup).
PRACTICE (Some people put a pencil in their mouth, or look at themselves in the mirror, or talk to a picture ...) if you're in a rut try different voices, funny accents, and then go back to your own voice, but don't voice when the script starts spinning in your head … At that point you've gone past the point of no return ...
Don't be sing songy going up and down up and down, avoid always punching, emphasizing just with volume or more energy.
Don't try to sound authoritative, like you are someone else.
Don't read your script, speak it.
DON'T POP Ps, don't spit in the mike, cough, leave uhs and ahs.
Don't be too close to mic.
Don't let stumbles rattle you … 3-2-1 and start in the middle of sentence you messed up (right before mess up … rather than beginning is usually easier to edit).
Don't make noises with your hands, or with your printout.
DON'T make abrupt edits to your own voicing, breaths.
DON'T MISPRONOUNCE NAMES.
DON'T SOUND BORING OR LIKE A ROBOT, BUT DON'T SOUND CRAZY EITHER ....
NEVER question a statement of fact.
Don't sweat it and don't go for perfection.
A GREAT VOICE TEACHER
My favorite voice coach during my career was Anne Utterback, who has her own excellent website with lots of useful tips. She's written several books like the one above which have really good examples and exercises. If you want help in your voicing, buy it!
Here's an NPR post on radio reporters who struggle to find their own voice. Here I am http://vimeo.com/85477521, voicing in Indonesia for a morning news television show in English, and also saying my goodbyes. Here's an Australian voice professional showing some of the process of voicing. Here's an American on voicing, and one video tutorial coming from a female voice. There's tips all around, but remember the most important one is just be yourself, and enjoy voicing.
For more comic relief, here's video of an actual professional going through vocal warmups after messing up. Excuse the low quality of the video, as well as ALL MY CAPS, as this was a cut and paste job from my lecture points for my own emphasis during classtime.
EDUCATIONAL LINKS ON VOICING
Here's a list of extra educational links with tons more tips on improving your voicing (sometimes you just can't get enough):
If you found this tutorial useful, check out other installments. Here's the full list of chapters from my audio tutorials:
Teaching Audio -- Instilling Passion
Teaching Audio part 1 -- Recording Audio
Teaching Audio part 2 -- Writing for the Ear
Teaching Audio part 3 -- Audio Editing
Teaching Audio part 4 -- Sound Effects, Using Music and Audio Libraries
Teaching Audio part 5 -- Anchor Leads, News Writing, Judgment and Features
Teaching Audio part 6 -- Voicing
Teaching Audio part 7 -- On the Scene Reporting
Teaching Audio part 8 -- Interviews
Teaching Audio part 9 -- Newscasts and Stacking the News
Teaching Audio part 10 -- Commercials
Teaching Audio part 11 -- Raising Your Game
Teaching Audio part 12 -- Podcasting Intro
Teaching Audio part 13 -- Window Dressing
Teaching Audio part 14 -- Podcast Lists
Teaching Audio part 15 -- Big Podcasts, Little City
Teaching Audio part 16 -- Listening to Podcasts and Publishing your Own
Teaching Audio, part 17 -- Joining Podcast Communities
Teaching Audio, part 18 -- Podcasting for PR
Teaching Audio, part 19 -- Promoting Your Podcast
Teaching Audio, part 20 -- Making Money in Podcasting
Teaching Audio, part 21 -- Building a Career in Audio