Great VO Artists Are Made, Not Born

The truth of the matter is that constant practice that makes the perfect voiceover talent.

Depending on the listener, the qualities of a great voiceover artist can be a little subjective. But here are a few things they all have in common:

  • enunciation
  • articulation
  • intelligent pronunciation
  • neutral accent
  • pleasant speaking voice
  • warm and resonant vocal tones
  • conversational approach

For most of us in voiceover land, these important skills don’t develop overnight; there are a few lucky folks who are naturally gifted, but most of us have to work at it.

In addition, no matter how much you practice, some voices are simply better suited to certain genres than others. Not everyone can do a killer commercial, and it takes a special touch to read complicated medical terminology and sound credible.

Even during idle periods, the artist needs to stay in practice lest his or her “instrument” get rusty.

I find the simplest way to keep my pipes in the pink is merely talking along as I listen to commercials I hear on the radio while I’m driving about town, or mirroring the inflection of a really great read I hear in an audio book.

So the next time you see some crazy lady talking to herself while driving in rush hour traffic, don’t jump to conclusions. It could just be your local voice over talent giving her voice a workout.

Voiceover Continuing Education

Many years ago, my PR professor at OSU taught me one of my favorite phrases: “you gotta circulate to percolate.”

I recently was circulating at the Midwestern Voiceover Conference in Columbus, Ohio, home of my alma mater, The Ohio State University. It was a great continuing education experience that was well worth the 12-hundred mile round trip from Atlanta.  Rubbing elbows with some of the top voiceover talent around is an experience unlike any other.

More than anything, the event highlights the fact that no matter how much or how little experience you have in the field, you can always benefit from the exchange of ideas and information from your peers. I was thrilled to meet my voiceover role model, the fabulous Bill DeWees. I’m inspired by his story, which in many ways, parallels mine. We’re both roughly the same age, and both of us were laid off around the same time from cushy, long-time corporate gigs. That experience taught me that you should always have and pursue a Plan B in your career. Because at the end of the day, it’s up to YOU to take care of yourself. You can’t rely on a company to repay years of loyalty by taking care of you or fulfilling your dreams.

That’s why I love Bill’s success story so much. Not only is he talented, the guy is a marketing genius who created his amazing voiceover empire from the ground up. Simply put, his mastery of marketing allowed him to go from zero to financial hero in the span of one short year.  And he’s just plain good people, who generously shares his knowledge with others interested in following in his professional footsteps. 

Here’s to the joys of lifelong learning.