If you’ve been on a workshop, one thing they usually recommend is to self-assess your performance and see how you can improve. Voice Over acting is no different and on the recent Showreel course, they provided a research page with resources to learn from, including TV ads and other artists’ demos.
To date, for my own ‘continuous improvement’ program, I’ve reviewed 357 of my own auditions, 82 television adverts and 33 artists’ demos. In every review I always fill in a box to answer the question “how can I learn it?”. I thought I would discover and share the most common responses. This is for my own interest but also for anyone else who might find these lessons useful.
Audition feedback: 24 times: “Work on flow, through reading out loud and polishing takes” 18 times: “A bit smoother and this would be a very good take” 17 times: “Give it life! Flow and character needed to make this an engaging voiceover” 17 times: “Closer mic technique with subtle enunciation would life this script off the page” 14 times: “Gravitas – Flow, melody, but most of all… rhythm and space” 13 times: “Use appropriate tone, energy and melody for the audience. Make the words come off the page and not sound read”
TV Ads feedback: 3 times: “Imagine the audience. In this example like you’re talking with friends over coffee”
Artist Demos: 4 times: “Confidence comes from a clear, neutral tone” 4 times: “Find your signature voice and style and bring scripts to life” 3 times: “Know your ABCs (Audience, Backstory, Character) and use your voice appropriately and with confidence”.
Afterthoughts: It’s interesting looking through and seeing what thoughts crop up again and again. With my own auditions, I am picking out specific qualities in the performance, such as flow, smooth tone, character, melody and rhythm (and space). In the TV Ads, the VO Artist often sounds natural and conversational, whilst the Artist Demos have natural and confident voices. That’s the aspiration, really: provide a natural read; an authentic, fully fleshed-out character that the audience would like to spend time with. That’s a simplified response I know, but it applies in most cases that aren’t character voices or in-your-face announcers.