“So How Do I Find My Own Voice?”
You can start identifying your own voice by making a list of adjectives that you feel describe your voice and your way of speaking. Then, because we often have trouble being objective, pick five people who know you well, and five people who know you less well, and ask each of them to come up with five adjectives to describe your voice. Remind them that they’re not trying to describe you or the way you look, but specifically your voice. If they have trouble coming up with descriptive words, maybe you could compile a long list of adjectives to make it easier on them. Here are a few adjectives you might choose (also see our suggestions in “Play to Your Strengths” in Chapter 10 of our book, The Demo):
abrupt energetic sincere curt fun-loving
smooth confident guarded upbeat warm
See which of the words suggested by your friends resonate with you, especially if a certain adjective comes up more than once. That means there’s usually something to that suggestion.
As you become more familiar and comfortable with your voice, you may find that you can start to identify the attributes that are specific to you. Your voice might be raspy or it might be crisp and clear. Maybe you have a slight drawl from living in the South, or a particular vocal pattern that people identify with you. Identifying your vocal characteristics is a good way to start honing in on what types of characters and qualities you might be able to bring to the table.
Some people call this description of your voice and delivery a vocal signature or style; others simply call it your sound. As soon as you zero in on your sound, you’ve got a strong place to start and to build outward from. It’ll be your safe place that you can always fall back on, and probably the place from which you’ll do most of your work.
Vocal signature comes up a lot in commercial VO. You might get hired because of your specific sound and attitude – which the client feels perfectly represent the product, and suddenly you’re the spokesvoice for that brand.
Remember, the most important thing here is that you are discovering for yourself your own personal and particular vocal quality and sound. There are so many opportunities in the field of voice-over that there’s no reason for you to feel the need to alter your own sound. Simply learn to market what you have and who you are, and that’s when things will really start popping!
Check out the rest of the website for tips and exercises, we post daily VO tips on Facebook and Twitter, and our book, Voice Over Voice Actor: What it’s like behind the mic includes a wealth of exercises to build your voice and keep it ready for a successful voice over career!