Voiceover Is More Than Just Your Voice

October 23, 2021 by Kathy Grable

A friend of mine said the other day, “You know, maybe I should take one of your classes, because I had someone call me in for a voiceover, and I don’t think I’m very good at it.”  

This was from an extremely talented actor who actually has happened on some voiceover jobs over the years for which they wanted her to dub her own voice. She’s been told several times, “You should do voiceovers.” And why not? Her voice is rich, sultry, and smooth. 

Does this sound familiar? It isn’t a unique conversation, and it’s one I have heard from lots of very talented people over the years, so I think it merits this month’s column. There may be some new a-has or some basics you may have heard before, but they never really clicked. So here goes.  

I know I have said this before, but I’ll say it again. Voiceover has nothing to do with your voice.

Well, let me back up here. Obviously, you use your voice, and if you have an amazing voice, well, that’s an added plus. The people who work in voiceover often have a lovely voice, but it’s the acting and their ability to communicate that gets them the job. So my first comment to above said actor was, “When you go in the booth, did you have earphones on?” “Why, yes, of course,” she said.

Here’s a tip. Next time, leave one earphone on, and on the other side, put the earphone behind your ear. That way you won’t be listening to your voice, which can go one of two ways: “I love my voice, I love my voice, I love my voice,” or “I hate my voice, I hate my voice, I hate my voice.” Either way you are caught up listening to your voice, and that often puts you in your head, not in the scene, the spot, or the commercial.

One other trap I think actors who aren’t used to translating their skillset to voiceover fall into is over-articulation. They’re usually listening so closely to every word they forget about what message they’re trying to convey and to whom. You want to speak clearly, obviously, but natural and conversational is the current trend. 

Next, remember the basics: 

  • “Who are you talking to?” Always talk to an audience of one.
  • “What do you want?”   Make the strongest choice.
  • “Where are you?” 
  • “When is it?”
  • “How are you going to get what you want?”
  • “Why do you want it?” 

And most importantly remember, don’t ever let the how get in the way of the what – your motivation, your objective in the scene.  

Bottom line? Voice acting is an art that requires that each time you go into a booth for a job or audition, you have to remember, it’s not about your voice but your choices on how you’re going to communicate truth to the audience.

Got a question for Kathy about the craft or business of voiceover? Email us your question at info@greenhouseproductions.com!

Kathy Grable

Kathy Grable is an L.A. voice-over prototype with a warmth and sincerity that reminds listeners of a close friend. You’ve heard her in animated shows like Tom & Jerry, Rocket Power, and Futurama and commercials for Pepsi, Disney, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King, and as the Baskin-Robbins “Talking Spoon.” Kathy was also the voice double for Nicole Kidman in the hit film Batman Forever. On-camera, she’s been seen in Mike & Molly, Harry’s Law, Last Man Standing, and The Wedding Band on TBS. She’s a sought-after V/O coach, director, and demo producer. When not performing, Kathy co-owns and operates a company that distributes e-books, comics, audio dramas, and her own podcast, In My Voice, with guests from all aspects of the voiceover world. Find it on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify, or go to https://anchor.fm/kathy-grable0 for all the episodes.

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