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Voice-over work requires a lot of practice and training to develop a good voice and excellent delivery. However, if you’re willing to put in the work, you may be able to join the ranks of other professional voice-over artists who have forged a career in the voice-over industry.

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What Is a Voice-Over?

Voice-over is a production technique where an off-camera actor or person records dialogue for use in a film, TV show, documentary, announcement, or commercial during the post-production process. Productions use voice-over narration to provide additional context to the visuals or as a form of guided narration. Voice-over performers are provided a script, which they read and record in a sound booth, providing multiple takes to ensure the production has a range of performances from which to choose.

6 Types of Voice-Over Work

From documentary narration to commercial marketing, there are many ways that productions can use voice-overs, including:

  1. Narration: Environmental programs and documentaries often use voice-overs to guide viewers through what is occurring on-screen. Voice-over talent sometimes weaves on-screen occurrences into a larger story, providing more information to the audience.
  2. Commercial: TV and radio commercials for products and goods will place the voice-over narration over the images and sounds on-screen, using the production technique to market a product to viewers. Some commercials require talented voice-actors to play fictional characters, while others allow them to use their own voice to connect with viewers.
  3. Education: Educational programs for schools and corporate settings often utilize guided voice-over to explain the concepts in their videos. Organizations use these voice-overs for training, human resources, or E-learning purposes.
  4. Automation: Voice actors often record short service messages or alerts for public transportation or announcements repeated and replayed daily.
  5. Lifestyle: Wellness products like guided meditation apps or self-help programs often utilize voice-over artists for guided narration. For this type of voiceover work, performers must use an even, calm voice to create a soothing effect on audiences.
  6. Digital: Audiobooks often voice-over artists to read full-length novels, short stories, or memoirs for listeners. Podcasts also utilize voice actors as announcers, fictional characters, or promotional purposes.
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What Is the Difference Between Voice-Over and Voice Acting?

There is one key difference between voice-overs and voice acting: Voice-over refers to both the production technique of recording narration for various uses and the unseen narrator’s voice. Voice-over artists are the performers who record narration and performances in a booth for various production uses.

5 Tips for Recording Voice-Overs

The voice-over industry can be tough to break into, but there are a few ways you can stand out as a great voice-over artist. Here’s a list of tips to check out before you record your first voice-over:

  1. Find a quiet room. Professional voice actors often convert a room in their home into a recording studio that’s completely free of background noise. If you do not have a dedicated recording space and limited space, consider recording in your closet. There will be fewer distractions, and recording in a smaller room will produce less reverberation or echo. A microphone can pick up many unwanted sounds, so ensure the space is as soundproof as possible using foam or thick blankets and sealing the gap under the door.
  2. Do vocal warmups. An essential part of preparing for a voice-over job or voiceover audition is warming up your voice through voice exercises. Vocal warm-ups and breathing exercises are a useful tool to prepare for any performance, but they are especially useful when preparing to do voice-over work. Warming up your voice and practicing enunciation can ease you into a “recording voice” with the appropriate breath support and clarity for audio recording.
  3. Enunciate. Voice-over artists must enunciate clearly. The audience needs to understand what the speaker is saying, whether visuals will accompany the recording or not. Clarity is critical when delivering information or lines of dialogue.
  4. Watch your pacing. Pacing is key for every type of voice-over recording. Voice-over artists need to know how fast or slow to deliver information so that audiences don’t get lost or bored while listening. Take note of how fast or slow you speak in everyday conversation. For example, if you’re a fast speaker, practice reading slower but still naturally. If you read at a slow pace, increase the speed you read by small increments until you find the best pace for the project that still feels natural.
  5. Use quality equipment. If you’re serving as your own audio engineer in a home studio, use the best equipment you can obtain because it can affect how your entire performance sounds. Post-production software can only edit your sound so much, so aside from a small, quiet room, your equipment needs to be as quality as possible. You don’t need to purchase pricey equipment, as there is a lot of quality recording equipment available for those on a budget.

Ready to Get the Voices in Your Head Out Into the World?

All you need is a MasterClass Annual Membership and our exclusive video lessons from Nancy Cartwright, the Emmy-winning voice actor responsible for bringing beloved animated characters—like Bart Simpson and Chuckie Finster—to life. With Nancy’s help, you’ll be ready to use your voice as an instrument in all kinds of weird and wonderful ways.

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