Understanding Your Voice

Posted in For Beginners by Administrator on the February 6th, 2009

By Jim Conlan
Copyright Jim Conlan, Voice Overs 2009
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Not everybody has an “announcer” voice – if you don’t, does that mean you can’t be a voice talent? The truth is, your voice is usually just fine for doing voice overs. This is because a good voice-over artist combines four elements to achieve a great performance: voice, talent, personality, and style. Think about Fran Drescher, and you can see how powerful this combination can be, even with a really odd voice.

When we hear ourselves recorded for the first time we generally have this reaction: “Eeewww, I don’t like the way I sound!” That’s because we hear ourselves from the “inside,” while others hear us from the “outside.” We’re not used to this sound, but as we become more familiar with it, we can work with it, play with it, and eventually make money with it.

The important thing is to know our own voice – its attributes and limits –Once we know our voice, we can work on how we use it.

How do we get to know our voice?

Start by learning where your natural range is. In Dr. Morton Cooper’s book, Change Your Voice, Change Your Life, he explains an easy way to do this: look in a mirror and imagine drawing a circle whose top is at the bridge of your nose, and whose bottom is under your chin. With your lips closed, say out loud, “M-m-m-h-m-m-m.” You’ll feel a distinct vibration in your face. If the vibration seems to be centered right around your mouth, that’s the center of your vocal range. If the vibration seems higher up or lower down, you may need to adjust your pitch. Try it now.

Once you’ve gotten comfortable with this range, practice using it. Find some copy and read it out loud. It could be copy you’ve written down from a TV or radio commercial, from a book you’re reading, from a magazine ad or article, or possibly from a website. Practice reading using what you know about your voice. Then stretch. Try varying your tone, your pitch, your volume, your speed. If possible, record this so you can hear what you’ve done. You’ll notice changes even as you practice.

Still have issues?

As you become more accustomed to working with your voice, you may find that you still have issues with the way you sound: your pronunciation, your speech patterns, or possibly your accent. If so, you may want to use the services of a licensed voice coach or speech therapist. At the least, you might discover that there are certain things you can do to broaden your marketability as a voice-over artist.

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