Voice-Over Voice Actor

A Peek Into The Secret World Of The Voice Actor

Interested in pursuing a career in VO? Curious what goes on behind the scenes in a business where people talk funny for money? This book offers a fun and comprehensive look at what it takes, what goes on and what it’s like behind the mic from two working pros who started from scratch.

Filtering by Category: Reminders

Voiceover Tip: Copy the Vocal Patterns on TV Commercials

Here's a great tip and exercise for voiceover artists: use TV commercials as a source of practice. Really listen to the commercials on your TV or radio. When you find a good commercial you like, try to parrot the VO actor who is speaking the lines.  You'll be repeating the words, of course, but also try to copy, as exactly as you can, the nuances, the tone, the inflections he or she uses, and the musicality.

Then mute or turn off the TV or radio and grab any random bit of text, such as an ad in a piece of mail or magazine. Try to bring the new tone and vocal patterns you've been copying to these new words. You will be using the style you've been mimicking with this new material.

This will really start to train your ear and attune you to what is currently “hot” in the advertising world. And it gets you practicing, reading aloud, and using your voice in new ways.

And it's fun! Enjoy!


How to Create Voice Over Copy For Practicing Purposes

tv cartoonThis exercise is to help you begin to compile your own practice copy for you to work on and then eventually use to create your commercial or animation demo reel.

For commercial copy, find magazines, see which ads visually pop out at you and write down the advertisement (or if the magazine is yours, pull the page out). Remember that print copy reads differently from commercial audio copy, so use the print as a starting point and then make slight adjustments to help the line flow.

To build animation copy, find an inanimate object in your house, then begin to write a monologue or conversation this object/character might have with you about its needs or hopes or dreams. Another wonderful way to create animation copy is to write down your favorite characters from animated shows, then rename them and make changes to what you know of their experiences, then try building a history or story for them that you find interesting.

Note which type of ad goes with the different types of commercial types (hard sell, soft sell, partner read, tag, etc.) also review your animation copy to see what types of characters you’re showing off and make sure you have some variety that works with your voice.

Put all your found (and massaged) copy into a binder, and practice randomly flipping to different pieces and reading and performing them as you would if you were in the booth.

Wonderful. You’ve had the chance to hone your unique vocal qualities and become more familiar with your natural voice. You’ve also probably gotten to see how your body reacts to a warm-up and how that can better prepare your voice for a session. You’ve read copy and made choices and have begun the process of building your own personal stack of practice copy that you can use as you move toward making your demo reel.

Voice-over isn't like it used to be where only 'certain' voices worked, now there are voices of all kinds and varieties to make up the spice of life. Basically, if you are a solid actor, are professional and considerate and you have good mic technique there is no reason you can't work in VO, of course, someone would have to hire you, so you'd need your demo reel ($$$$, time, energy) and most likely you will need to secure an agent to represent you and get you auditions (time/energy) as well as giving yourself as much as an edge as possible by taking classes, practicing your craft, knowing your voice and how to take care of it; so planning a career in voice-over is an investment.

The wonderful world of voice-over allows you to create amazing characters, to teach, to entertain, to offer new alternatives and to go on a whole new adventure. Remember, voice acting just “acting” without the bonus of using your facial expressions or body language to convey something visually, so your intention has to come across with just your voice helped by your imagination. And we all have one of those…

Voice Actors: Practice People-Watching & People-Listening!

lips One great way of getting your ear (and then your voice) attuned to a variety of voices, inflections, accents and qualities is to practice people watching and people-listening.

Find a fairly busy spot, like a mall, a zoo, a crowded lobby, café, etc, sit yourself down, and observe. Listen to how different people talk, take note of their pauses, inflections, their unique affectations and things you find interesting about them. Without appearing creepy, you might even pay attention to their mouths to see if there’s something specific they’re doing to create sounds.

If you think it might help, bring a note pad along so you can take notes on things you want to remember. Consider also bringing your quality check list with you so you can quantify for yourself the characteristics of the voices you’re hearing. In case you haven’t built a quality list yet, here are some examples to start with. Use them as a jumping-off point and add your own!

Calm      Pointed      Sincere      Flustered      Agitated      Loving

Hypnotic      Polite     Warm       Shrill       Distant       Brash

See how many different qualities a particular person’s voice might have: perhaps they have a calm, sincere, loving, polite voice, or maybe their voice is pointed and agitated. Mix and match to best describe the voice you are listening to, or add any qualities you become aware of that aren’t yet on your list.

Happy people listening!

Reminder: Work on your mic technique!

We are regularly asked about how to use a mic correctly, so here are our guidelines, again. Keep working on it, and soon it will be comfortable and second nature.


man an d mike cartooon

Tips for Microphone Technique

The mic can be rather daunting when you first start out in voice-over! Practicing at home with one will help to reduce the newness of it, and the distraction from it.

Here are some tips to get you started.



Find your own comfort zone, with regard to proximity. Many voice-over artists will angle slight to the right or left of the mic, for two reasons:

1) This can reduce or eliminate pops from plosive sounds like t, b, or p. When you're in a session, engineers can help by putting a “pop shield,” a stocking device or foam shield, in front of the mic. But if you angle- speak slightly across the mic - you create a similar effect to a pop screen.

2) You will be able to see and read your copy off to the right or left, without the mic being right in front of it.



Well, the mic is there to amplify the sound, so you can be as soft or loud as the job requires, but you need to work with the mic to create this. If you are recording yourself, make sure you are getting a solid wave form, and if you are working with an engineer s/he will do this by first getting a good level of your planned volume before recording the take. You can’t speak softly while the engineer gets a good level, and then shout during your take!

Every different session will call for something different in the way of volume . For example, if you want low, deep sounds from your voice it can help to get very close to the to the mic, perhaps two to three inches. If you know you are going to really project, and speak louder, stand back, seven to nine inches from the mic, so your voice doesn’t distort.

Then trust the mic and your own voice and skill. If you need drama and a “dark” interpretation, you might try a whisper, or near-whisper. And if it is comedy, use a little more level and smile the whole time you are speaking. It is amazing that a smile can come right through the microphone to the listener!



You must be able to see well, to read your copy! Make sure you are well prepared with contacts or reading glasses if you need them, and some artists even carry a small clip-on light, which runs on a battery, to attach to the stand holding your copy. Lighting must be ample to reduce the possibility of unnecessary errors when you read. In many studios you can ask to increase the level of light if it isn't bright enough for you.



Do your breathing exercises. Practice reading all kinds of different material at home in front of the mic. Try things and experiment at home to learn what your real strengths are. And stretch yourself to try new things. Try different pitches, different volumes, mimic cartoon characters or famous actors or comics. Read out loud in front of the mic and record it if you can, to listen back - you will learn so much from hearing your own work.

The more you develop and then employ your microphone technique and skill, the less the engineer and producer have to rely on enhancements in the studio. The less they work, the faster and easier the session, and the more likely you are to be re-hired! Plus, comfort and skill with the microphone shows your professionalism, getting the job done well and quickly, which is the producer’s goal!




Great exercise: make like a snake!

Imitating a snake can be a great exercise to increase your breath control and expand your lungs.

Try this:

1. Inhale deeply and then, holding your palm an inch in front of your mouth so you can feel the air, let out a hiss.
2. Hiss for as long as you are comfortable and then take a deep breath.
3. Repeat this 5 times alternating between an “s” hiss and a “z” hiss (which we guess might be called a ‘hizz’).

4. Begin to gradually increase the length of your hiss (or hizz) as you are comfortable.
Hissing can strengthen your abdominal muscles and your diaphragm because they are working to maintain one strong continuous flow of air. Another exercise that’ll work your abs is to pant, rapidly, like a dog when it is hot. This exercise will force your diaphragm to rapidly push and pull, which will strengthen it over time, but might tire you out pretty quickly. The benefits are many, though, not the least of which being to help protect your voice when you have to do any shouting or yelling.






Expand Your Breath! Some good exercises....

Learn about your breathing, then expand or lengthen it, to really increase your skills in VO!

     1. Begin by lying flat on the ground and placing your hand on your abdomen just below your ribs.
     2. Feel the natural rise and fall as you breathe.
     3. Notice the natural ‘pause’ between inhale and exhale.

This is how your body breathes without you trying to do anything to control it. As you breathe, there should be four sections to each breath: 1. an inhale, 2. a pause, 3. an exhale, 4. a pause. We usually don’t feel the pauses because they’re short and they happen naturally, but they’re there, all right.

This next exercise focuses on lengthening, or expanding, your breath:
      Begin by inhaling for a three-count, holding for a three-count, exhaling for a three-count and holding for a three-count.
      Do this until it’s comfortable and then start to increase your count, four-count, five-count, etc. If you start to feel lig ht-headed or dizzy, stop immediately and take a break.
     See if you can comfortably work up to 5, 6, 7 or even 8, 9, 10.

(Tara once had a voice teacher who could breathe in and out on a thirty-count, which comes with a lot of practice. Being able to hold your breath and control your breathing allows you to play with your voice more, giving you more range and stamina, which could come in handy for things such as recording long passages for audiobooks or characters who really ramble on.)




Can you Step Out of Your Natural Voice? Stretch Yourself!


Stepping outside of your natural voice can be a lot of fun! Once you understand what your natural vocal qualities and “sound” are, you can begin to play outside the box and expand the range of characters and qualities you can offer.

This exercise helps you play with a range of emotions. As you read the following phrases, you’ll notice that we have removed all punctuation, which can often be a clue to a phrase’s tone. But in order to expand your range, let’s play around with the many different ways the same phrase can be said. First, see what your natural inclination is when you read the phrase. Copy and paste this blog to a Word Doc, and after each one, write down the adjective that you feel most fits the phrase/sentence. For example, a sentence such as “stop,” might be angry. As you read the phrases, see how you naturally interpret the emotion associated with saying the words.

Exercise: Phrases

  • Over here                                          
  • I need that                                         
  • Let go                                                   
  • What are you talking about       
  • Don’t do that                                    
  • I don’t think that’s a good idea 
  • Give me the new one                   
  • No                                                         
  • Try it again                                         
  • Listen to me                                      
  • Alright                                                 
  • Stop right there                               
  • Wow that’s huge                            


Now, review your phrase list and see how you naturally ‘heard’ the specific words. Perhaps your “no,” was “frustrated,” because you assumed that if you are telling someone “no,” it’s because you’re frustrated about something.

Becoming familiar with your instincts can be very helpful because it’ll allow you to make a choice outside of your natural inclination, which can yield very interesting results.

Come say hello on Facebook: Voice Over Voice Actor

Simulate an audition; it's great voice over practice!

1. This exercise is to help simulate an audition experience for you. Remember to look for all the information on the page to give you clues to your performance.
2. Do a trial run with each of the specs and record yourself. Play it back and listen to hear if what you planned in your head was apparent in your recording.

Try out the following Commercial and Animation Audition Copy using the following specs. See how each unique spec changes your performance.


1. young, cheerful, spunky 2. wants to be everyone’s friend
3. eternally optimistic 4.intelligent, honest, down-to-earth

1. In the summer heat, 2 bucks can go a long way.
Now, at The Burger Joint, grab a large drink, large fries
and your choice of hamburger or cheeseburger for only $1.99.
Come in and fill up for less than 2 bucks.

2. Why choose one of those other companies that might loose your package or handle it with less-than-optimal care?
Let BoxYouUp come by your office or home and package,
mail and deliver your important items at your convenience.
Visit BoxYouUp.com for pricing.


1. energetic, sporty, hot shot 2. is always having a good time
3. goofy, crazy, wild 4.nervous and easily excited

1. Hey little monkey, I don’t know what you are doing in there, but you need to come out right now. You hear me?I don’t wanna have to yell. C’mon now. Get out. Get. OUT. Monkeeeeeeeeee! OUT. Now see, that wasn’t so bad, now was it. Ha! Silly monkey.

2. You mean there is more out there than this? Robots even? Wicked!
Because I’ve been waiting my whole life for that.I just know I can take them on.
Let’s go.
What are you waiting for? Let’s do this thing.
Woah. Did you see that? I’m awesome.

Fantastic. Hopefully getting the experience of listening to your performance has given you a deeper understanding of the variety of things you will want to consider when working on audition material or even going to an audition. Of course, this exercise can’t exactly duplicate an audition experience, but the more prepared you feel before you go into an audition situation, the more confident and relaxed you will be, and the higher your chances of you doing your best work, and with any luck, booking the job!

Hum while chewing - it's a great exercise!

We hear good feedback from folks about this exercise, and we find it very helpful.

Give it a try!

1. With your lips closed, start to hum.
2. Then make chewing movements, as if you were eating, and keep humming the  whole time.
3. Now use your hands to feel the vibration in the front of your face, your nose, your cheeks, and gently allow your hands to move to your neck and throat, and perhaps even onto your belly so that you can feel how your voice resonates in different areas of your body.

Using the chewing hum can warm up the different areas where your voice will resonate. Once again, when your voice resonates, it bounces around a certain area of your body, whether that’s up in your face, nose or head area, your throat, or your chest or belly.

Now to begin to identify where your voice is resonating, let’s concentrate on specific sounds that tend to resonate in different areas. Certain sounds we create generally vibrate more toward the head, while others, because we use different muscles to make them, may vibrate lower, toward the belly. If you can learn to control where you choose to place your voice, you can begin to use it in more powerful and interesting ways.


Great VO Exercise: Raspberries, Sirens, and Lip Trills

1. Keeping your lips together, like you were making imaginary car (or motorboat, if you prefer) “brrrm, brrrrm” noises, and allow your lips to make a “raspberry” type sound (like a good old-fashioned Bronx cheer without sticking your tongue out), or lip trill. Begin at the bottom of your possible range and while continuing the lip trills gradually raise your pitch until you hit your highest note possible.

2. Now reverse direction. Start at the top of your range and move downward thru your natural pitch to your lowest note.

3. Continue your lip trills while going from low to high and back to low again. It’ll sound a little like a siren.

4. Repeat the sirens 3-5 times until you feel like your voice is beginning to get warmed up.

5. This can be hard to describe on paper. Feel free to visit this link ( ) to see an example.


Lip trills are a great way not only to warm up your face and resonators in your sinus cavities, but also helps keep your vocal cords and neck muscles from tensing up while you’re warming up your voice. Don’t worry if your voice cracks during the sirens. That’s just a natural part of expanding your range. We all have “head tones” (high) as well as “chest tones” (low) in our range, and in order to move back and forth continuously from one to the other, you have to move through your natural “break,” which is the sound that often people associate with a teen boy going through puberty. One of the reasons for this is that the vocal cords are actually growing and stretching and sounds that used to be easily within one range move to a different register, and the voice “cracks” as it pushes through unfamiliar territory. So in addition to warming up your voice, this exercise can also help you widen your vocal range.


Sirens w/out Lip Trill

1. Allow your mouth to hang slightly open, and begin an “ee” sound at the bottom of your range. As you exhale, slide your pitch higher and higher until you hit your highest note possible.

2. Now reverse direction. Start at the top of your range and slide your pitch downward until you hit your lowest note.

3. Make sure your face and jaw are relaxed and comfortably open while making the siren sound.

4. Repeat the sirens 3-5 times until you feel like your voice is warming up.
Practicing sirens can really begin to stretch your range and gently allow the musculature in your face and neck (as well as your vocal cords) to begin to become accustomed to the sounds you’ll be making while acting.


Whether you have a high or low-pitched voice you can also begin to think about the placement of the sound you’re making. This is separate from the pitch. Placement relates to the physical location in your body where your voice is resonating. For example, if you have a head cold and are all stuffed up, you might sound very frontal, or nasal, since your sinuses are blocked and thus blocking the sound from escaping completely, therefore creating a very frontal resonant sound. If you drop the sound way back to the back of your throat, then you would almost sound like you were swallowing the sounds, creating a very different quality altogether.


Begin to play around with extremely frontal, a mid-range placement as well as a back placed sound. This is something that you can bring into your work and begin to pick and choose where certain voices you create will be placed and where others will lie instead. [Should this be a new exercise to help develop awareness of where you’re placing your voice?]



Remember, Caffeine May Not be a Good Thing for Your VO Session!

REMINDER: Sure, who doesn't like a stimulus and pick-me-up delivered in a tasty beverage like coffee, tea or a soft drink. But when you're getting ready for a VO session, that caffeine can have the unwanted side effect of drying out your vocal chords. So be aware of the effects before hitting the booth. An herbal tea can be a wonderful substitute and still maintain the lubrication necessary to keep your vocal chords moist and healthy.




Green Apples

REMINDER: One of the most useful things that I use to keep clicks down when I'm vocally smacky in the booth is to bite into a green apple (Granny Smith not Golden Delicious). I think the pH balance in the apple does something to the saliva to keep your mouth moist without being wet sounding.