Voice Gym: Exercise Your Emotional Range in Voiceover

illustration of voiceover microphone, script, and laptop on yellow background

In our last few blogs we’ve detailed why we think the human voice over will always be more powerful and more in-demand than the AI technology built to replace it. We discussed how nuanced context and emotion are factors only humans can bring to the table, and even more so, perfect. In this installment of our series ‘Voice Gym,” we’re giving you some exercises to help expand and exercise the emotional range in your voiceover craft. Remember, the more you practice the more prepared you are for whatever voiceover job comes your way!

1. High to Low – Range Matters!

illustration of voiceover actor in the booth with purple microphone and headphones

For this first exercise we suggest you begin not with your voice, but with a brainstorming session. Think of 10 different emotions that humans convey. Write them down on a sheet of paper in front of you starting with the most exaggerated or loudest emotion placed at #1 and the most quiet or understated emotion at #10. Now, pick a phrase. Any phrase! The most useful phrases for this exercise are often something that can traverse these 10 emotions with ease. For instance, the phrase, “How can I help you?” is a great example of how one sentence can be spoken many different ways. Once you’ve got your phrase, go through your list and practice the ten different emotions with the one phrase and notice how your tone, inflection, volume, and voice change with each iteration. It’s these small nuances that make all the difference in the craft of voiceover, so the more you get to know your range the better you’ll perform once you get in the booth!

2. Overact So You Can Recognize Your Boundaries

dyptic of voiceover actor with script in hand next to image of a production clapper to signal record

This particular voiceover prompt will have you pushing your boundaries—in order to find and recognize them before you hit record. Now, overacting isn’t where you want your vocal performance to end up eventually, but it is a great way to know when to know how far you can push yourself before pulling back the emotion in your voice, as well as learn how far you should go to get the read right. For instance, when you read something as “angry” that can mean a lot of different things. Anger can be loud, it can be quiet. Anger can be ferocious, or it can seethe. For this exercise pull up an article on your favorite news website. Read the entire thing in different variations of anger, working your way up to the most outlandish, over-the-top reading you can muster. Once you’ve practiced the range of your anger performances, see which ones felt real, which ones felt raw, and which ones felt forced. Now, examine why these performances turned out this way. It’s a great practice to record yourself during these sessions on a phone so you can hear back the nuanced ways your emotions played out.

3. Listen More Than You Speak

voiceover actor laying on couch listening to an audiobook with an orange cat sleeping nearby

Now, we know that this one might sound counter-intuitive, but honestly, this one might be the most important. Listening is such an underrated skill and one that sometimes we can forget in our daily practices. However, if you listen to a chapter or two on an audiobook per day you will get in the habit of hearing how other voice actors convey emotion. By listening to different books, different voice actors, and different ranges, you’ll gain more of an understanding of what you can implement in your own craft. We’ve heard it said that poets read more than they write, and that actors watch movies more than they perform…. So, why not the same for voice actors? By listening to performances by other voice actors, you place your own skill and craft in a great river of voices. You learn who inspires you and why. Who might be your “vocal ancestors” and why your voice might  belong in their legacy. Remember, as we move into the future of voice acting it’s important to retain all the great facets and figures that came before; honor your own voice by making space to listen to others in your daily practice.

If you’d like to learn more about voiceover opportunities and how Worldly Voices is a hub for many talented voice actors, please contact us! We’d love to speak with you about why partnering with us is a great move for your vocal career.

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