Time to get serious now. Ok, yeah, these exercises might be mostly tailored to a beginner’s needs because experienced voice actors work with their personal coaches all the time, especially in periods that they tend to overwork.
However, the ideas below will get you into the voice training mentality and what it takes if you’re wondering how to become better at voice acting.
1. Start with warm-ups
A day in the life of a voice actor should always start with some basic warm-up exercises. This enables them to both take care of their voice and prepare it so they can achieve better results.
When you wake up, your vocal cords are tight which creates the hoarse-y effect that makes your voice sound tired. Vocal warm-up exercises will help you loosen your vocal cords and fully activate them. Try to do it every day.
After your voice acting business has grown enough, more and more requests will be coming in, so the wisest thing to do would be to also do your warm-up exercises before you start recording.
In other words, make warm-ups part of your voice acting training routine to keep your throat healthy and at its best. Also, don’t forget to relax your mouth area with some basic exercises like tongue trills and lip rolls.
2. Learn how to breath
Think of ads, voice-over artists, or even your favorite animated characters.
Think of Ariel the Little Mermaid (above water), Simba from the Lion King, or movie trailers. And listen closely. No role or voice-over narrator ever breaths — and when they do is part of their performance. So, the better you learn how to control the source of your vocal power (i.e., the lungs), the better voice actor you’ll be.
Start by taking deep breaths to figure out your lungs’ capacity. Learn how to engage your diaphragm and keep track of how much air you exhale when speaking in front of a mic.
Then, take a book and read sections while keeping your tone of voice in mind. Don’t make it robotic. Try to use your voice to express different emotions and monitor how they affect your breathing.
3. Do impressions
If you’ve ever watched voice acting gurus or people who use their voices to make money, you’ve most probably noticed that most of them are able to control their voice so well that they can imitate other celebrities and voice acting styles.
This is not just an attempt to appear relevant or show off their talent rather than proof that they’ve done their research. When making impressions, you get into the mentality of voice acting, see what makes big names actually big, and eventually do better voiceovers.
So, voice actor lesson #3: Make impressions and imitate the way others speak to learn how to do different voices.
4. Practice your cold reading skills
Sometimes, you might have to deliver a voice over without having the time or luxury to study the script extensively beforehand. When you don’t have the ability to review a script before an audition, you need to respond immediately and be your best voice-acting self right on the spot.
This is what we call cold reading. It’s when voice actors need to read and perform with little or no time to study their script, rehearse, and prepare. But beginners usually get nervous, and they end up sounding too flat.
To practice this unique voice acting skill, you need to develop your sight-reading talents that will allow you to read upcoming words in your script while you’re speaking the ones before them. It takes time, though, and the only voice acting training exercise to get better at it is to read books or short stories that you’ve never read before out loud as if you were auditioning.
Don’t forget to color your voice and make it sound natural.
5. Expand your vocal range
Generally, the wider the range you cover, the more voices you will be able to do and the more voice qualities you’ll be able to master. Be diverse and touch different pitches, volumes, tones, or even accents. This is what makes a good actor: variety.
And again, making impressions is key here.
Listen to people from different age groups, regions, and cultures and try to imitate them. Perform with their voices in mind, and don’t worry if you don’t make it right away; you’ll get there.
6. Add emotion
Many believe that acting classes help voice actors amp up their game. And it’s true. And this is why it’s usually part of a structured voice acting training program.
Adding emotion to your voice, even for the simplest project, such as a radio jingle, will instantly make a difference and help you stand out. Because acting unlocks those skills of influence and persuasion.
Play around with your voice and focus on acting out emotions. Start big, and then try to tone it down until you’ve perfectly reached the feeling you want to communicate without being too dramatic.
Successful voice actors don’t stop at their voice. Use your whole body to act if it helps and test different techniques that will help you add the perfect amount of emotion — not too out-there, not too reluctant.
7. Add emphasis and mind your inflection
When starting out your voice acting career, you will sound flat. Then, in an attempt to add some excitement, you will seem like your trying too much. And it makes complete sense.
Adding emphasis is essential when trying to engage listeners. Each sentence serves the story, so you need to make it count. The best way to add emphasis, increase engagement but not make it too cheesy is to mind your inflection.
Inflection is a common term in the voice acting community. Mastering your voice’s inflection means that you can control your pitch perfectly and serve a different purpose at a time. However, inflection also allows you to convey emotions and get your listeners hooked to the story you’re telling.
Think of your normal voice, for example. It sounds different when you’re excited, sad, or angry. This is exactly why you need to develop your inflection skills: to communicate feelings by just changing the way you position your speech.
8. Listen to yourself
You’ve probably read this before. And if you’re searching for voice acting techniques and ways to make it into the voice acting industry, it means that you’re reading a lot. And all articles out there say the same thing: you need to listen to yourself.
Listening to how you sound allows you to listen to your real voice and not to the voice that your inner ear catches. Many people (including you, maybe) hate the way they sound on video or a recording. Well, because they don’t really know how they sound.
Record yourself while doing your exercises and change the way your voice sounds on each exercise. Make your voice deeper and then higher. Feel free to horse around with it, and when you get to listen to your track, see which voice you like the most.
You don’t need any fancy equipment. Use your cellphone as a mic and your earphones to listen to yourself. An objective perception of your voice will allow you to become better at what you do.
After all, this is how your potential customers will listen to you as well.