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Tips for Great Voice-Over Performances

Part of the Voice Acting For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When giving a great performance as a voice actor, you need to get a strong feel for the script writer’s intentions for writing the script. Get inside the script and read between the lines. The following tips can help you to more fully understand what the writer intended and better inform your read:

  • Know your character. Find out all you can about your character in order to give the most believable performance, which includes how old your character is, what motivates your character, your character’s priorities, and so on.

  • Know your audience. To whom are you speaking? Every good voice actor has a clear idea of who his or her target audience is and why what he or she is saying is meaningful to the listener.

  • Research the location and its environment. Setting the scene is important. Find out details that can support your interpretation of the script, including accents if required and ambient sounds.

  • Be sensitive to context. Take in the full picture before you decide how you’ll read a script. Everything is connected to each other, including characters. Understanding the entire script is crucial to delivering an informed read.

  • Visualize the location, your surroundings, and your character. Imagine where your character is, what’s going on around him or her, and how the character fits into the story. You may want to use photographs as a visual guide or inspiration for painting pictures with your words.

  • Listen to music of the time period. Are you looking for another way to gain insight into the world your character lives in? If you have a date or an era to reference, try to locate music of that time and immerse yourself in what may be the soundtrack of their life.

  • Identify your character’s contemporaries, whether real or imagined. When creating a character, understanding who your character chooses to surround him or herself with tells you a lot about your character as a person. If your character lived sometime in the past, research people who lived at that time to get a clearer picture of who your character is and how he or she related to contemporaries.

  • Practice speaking in character when talking to other people. Are you able to speak as your character, even when you’re not reading from a script? Conversing as your character with others is a good test of how well you know your character, how he or she would say things, and what makes him or her tick.

  • Know how the story ends before you get there. There’s nothing worse than a narrator who is just as surprised as his or her audience. Reading the full script through before recording can ensure that you aren’t caught by surprise, and you can create a better overall performance.

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