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Arts & Entertainment

Voice-Acting Guide: 7 Tips to Improve Your Voice Acting Skills

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Dec 17, 2020 • 3 min read

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Nancy Cartwright Teaches Voice Acting

If you have a great voice and decent acting skills, you can break into the voice-over industry and become a successful voice actor. All you need is time, voice-acting training, a quiet space, and a lot of practice.

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Nancy Cartwright Teaches Voice ActingNancy Cartwright Teaches Voice Acting

The legendary voice actor reveals her creative process for giving life to animated characters with emotion, imagination, and humor.

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What Is Voice Acting?

Voice acting is a performance art where actors use their own voices to entertain, narrate, or market products for commercials, animation, audiobooks, video games, and educational content. In addition to doing impressions, mimicry, or character voices, a voice actor must also possess acting skills. Since voice actors are rarely seen on-screen, their voice is their only means of expressing their emotions.

Voice acting requires the ability to change inflections, provide different deliveries, enunciate impeccably, and alter your tone to get the necessary performance for the program or soundbite. Aspiring, intermediate, and veteran actors must train and practice religiously, always improving their vocal skills to deliver the best performance possible. Many professional voice-over artists set up a soundproof home studio to record, audition, or practice.

7 Tips to Help Improve Your Voice-Acting Skills

Voice acting is a profession that requires practice, confidence, and discipline. Here are a few tips to help improve your skills so you can start your own voice-acting career:

  1. Research your character. Part of creating distinctive characters with specific vocal patterns is performing the necessary research and exploration. Once you have a good sense of who your character is, you can practice speaking your lines and feeling out how you might approach the dialogue. It’s important to work with the text extensively before your recording session.
  2. Warm up. An important part of preparing for a voice-over job or voice-over 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. Learn more about vocal warm-ups with these tips from country music superstar, Reba McEntire.
  3. Immerse yourself in the role. A good voice actor must be dramatic and theatrical if the work calls for it. You must fully immerse yourself in the role, taking on the character, and delivering a believable performance. Voice acting is just like traditional acting, except all the acting work is done through your voice.
  4. Take acting classes. Voice acting isn’t just reading words on a page—it requires acting skill. Taking lessons with an acting coach can help hone and refine your abilities, making you a more confident and believable performer.
  5. Hire a voice-acting coach. Voice acting requires more than using a funny voice or making impressions. A voice-acting coach can help improve your technical skills like breathing, pronunciation, articulation, and delivery to know how to perform each line as best as possible.
  6. Listen to the professionals. Watch commercials, cartoons, or play video games to study your favorite professional voice actor’s work. Listen to the choices they make in their delivery, and take notes on how they vary their tone and inflections. You can also listen to voice-acting podcasts to get tips on how professional voice actors approach specific roles.
  7. Practice. It’s important to practice even when you aren’t in a professional recording studio. Many professional voice-over actors have home studios for recording voice-over acting auditions and honing their recording skills. Once you have a full setup, practice reading copy, and listening back to your recordings. Practice will help you develop a professional-sounding voice that will appeal to casting directors and audiences.
Nancy Cartwright Teaches Voice Acting
Nancy Cartwright Teaches Voice Acting
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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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