The Art of Voiceovers

I once described what I do as “halfway between fake and normal.”

Let me explain. In normal, everyday conversation, people communicate with more than just their voices. It’s a combination of several elements: your voice, facial expressions, gestures, posture and even your smile. In voiceovers, your voice has to do the job of all of the above. It has to project emotion that you would see in your face and convey the subtle messages that your body language projects. For that reason, when a normal person reads a voiceover script in a normal voice, it actually comes off sounding monotone and, well, boring.

How to sound “natural” in a voice-over narration

Ironically, to sound natural, you actually have to hype your delivery. Exaggerate your inflection to convey excitement, happiness, concern, anxiety, anger, mystery — whatever the desired emotion. Think of how you talk to a baby – the pitch of your voice changes, your cadence takes on a sing-song and exaggerated quality, and you may even enunciate more deliberately.

In other words, you are half way between fake and normal.

The odd part of it is that this half-fake-half-normal voiceover delivery winds up sounding completely normal on TV or the radio. If I talked to you like that in a normal conversation, you’d probably ask me if I’d had too much caffeine, and to dial it back a notch.