Probably the single-most challenging and sought-after vocal quality requested today is the ‘conversational’ read. It’s nothing new, frankly. This has been the goal for decades.
The problem is, once you read the very dry, unimaginative script you’re auditioning for you discover you have little, if anything, to draw upon to convey a realistic, natural, plausible performance. Especially if your conditioning as a voiceover has been almost strictly Corporate Narration, e-Learning, or any number of the less than ‘conversational’ styles out there.
Simply hearing the client repeat, “You’re talking to your best friend” or “Just be yourself” doesn’t help. In some respects it makes matters worse. You feel like you’re drifting further from shore rather than the other way around. Now what?
If you’ve spent a good deal of your career, thus far, announcing—as so many of us have… you may have assumed you’ve been as realistic as the script would allow. Or, perhaps, you thought you sounded ‘natural’ and ‘conversational’ only to receive feedback or ‘direction’ telling you otherwise.
Certainly if you’ve spent years in broadcast, your cold-reading skills may be sharp, but you likely developed a delivery style that suits News, weather and sports, but undermines your value by coming off too presentational. I promise you you’re not alone.
The thing is: the goal of every voiceover is to become a ‘vocal brand’ of the product, service or production you’re voicing—regardless of whether you’re voicing a commercial, a corporate narrative, a documentary, a game, a channel, or what have you.
Our mission, as voice talent, is to sound as if every word on the page is what we happen to think, and what we know for ourselves to be true. We’re assuming a specific point-of-view (POV) as voiceovers, and we are expected to sound as if we have an educated opinion about what we’re talking about.
Of course, mastering a conversational delivery is accomplished over time, with practice, and intention to understand and be understood. Provided, of course, you know what to practice by having a process to get there consistently and confidently. It’s not immediately intuitive.
Which is why wherever you focus your attention will ultimately develop skills and assets. As the saying goes, we are what we repeatedly do. Which is why exposing your self to specific disciplines is essential to every skill level of talent.
Talent, like any muscle, demands continued use and development, or it will atrophy. While skill, on the other hand, can and should be taught. Both require continued application to remain sharp and useful.
The knife cuts both ways: you need to effectively self-direct and trust your best creative impulses, while simultaneously committing yourself to whatever direction you may be offered during a session, even if that direction might be completely counter-intuitive to your best instincts. In fact, especially so.
There’s typically a leap of faith required to achieve your most natural conversational delivery. But a level of risk, a great departure from your norm is needed in every performance you deliver. Because “playing it safe” isn’t necessarily all that secure if it leaves your performance stagnant.
You won’t find techniques and tools of the trade more reliable or as well vetted as you’ll find coaching privately with us. Our attention is consistently and continually focused on helping you develop your most natural personality through your voiceover, regardless of the genre.
Considering ‘conversational’ is the single most requested quality in all of casting and production today, it’s ironic it’s typically the most challenging and most elusive attribute to master. Your aim is to master sounding as honest and genuine as possible. Anyone who hires you as a voice actor assumes this is your constant mission as an artist and professional.
Copyright © 2021 by Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved..