A smart voice over uses their IQ to change their voice with natural EQ. This is how I use my internal graphic equaliser.
Being a professional voiceover artist means being a vocal chameleon. I have to shift my voice to meet the needs of each client and script. It can change daily or minute to minute. This means treating my voice like a graphic equaliser. But what does that look and sound like in practise?
Read on to find out.
Experienced voiceover artist
I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. I’m used to reading scripts and seeing very quickly and clearly what the client needs. Whether the job is e-learning, commercial, corporate, telephone systems or anything else, it all comes down to the same things.
I use my IQ to deduce the required tone and style, which often leaps off the page of a good script. I then use my internal EQ and can often nail it in the first take.
Sometimes though, scripts can say one thing, but require a different approach. And that’s where one of the most important skills for a professional voice over artist comes in; being able to take direction. I listen, interpret and then use my voice like a graphic equaliser to create the perfect tone. The first thing to think of is the audience of course. Who am I really talking to? And what do I want them to do? Am I informing, persuading, teaching, selling etc? I have to make tiny changes to the tone, pace, accent, pitch and volume to adapt to each job and each client’s needs.
I recently voiced a radio commercial which highlights this process brilliantly.
The script was some Covid-19 messaging. It would have been easy to do the standard approach but the client wanted something different. Let me take you through it.
Take 1 – Authoritative and intimate
At first glance you’d expect the usual tone; serious, authoritative, slightly menacing – you know the kind of thing! This is what that could have sounded like:
But the client wanted it more conversational; like a normal person giving out good advice. I shifted the knobs on my internal graphic equaliser and it became this:
Take 3 – Bright and genuine
Now, that was better, but I knew I could do more. It needed to sound lighter, brighter and more genuine…
Take 4 – Approachable and natural
Whoa there horsey! Now we’re getting close to the style. But the client wanted me to take more time and make it even more natural. So, same style, but slower and I suggested changing my accent slightly so it was less ‘posh’ and more ‘woman of the people’.
Take 5 – Soft and engaging
OK, we’re happy with the accent and attitude, but it’s still sounding too serious. Time to shift those knobs again to make it softer. I raised my pitch and we have this:
Take 6 – Warm and clear
Huzzah! The client is happy. But I’m not. I wanted to find the light and shade a bit more to mark the shifts in the script. Adding more musicality, a bit of breath here and there and we have the final commercial:
Thanks for sticking with me. I bet you know that script off by heart now! But I hope it shows how, as a smart voiceover, I use my IQ to tweak the dials on my internal EQ to nail the job for the client every time. Huge thanks to the team at Global for letting me share this – sorry I’m not allowed to name-check the amazing producer and writer here, but YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!
Why not get in touch if you’d like to talk to me about your next project – and put my graphic equaliser to good use!