There are a number of ways you can help your voice actor to deliver a great end result for your latest project.
Here are 3 simple but important things that can really help:
So – a script.
Obviously voiceover artists need the words – but preferably not on a powerpoint slide, a spreadsheet or embedded into a storyboard.
Ideally just a plain simple word doc or pdf.
Getting a storyboard is useful because we can get a real feel for how our voices will work in the project and see the visuals that we are going to be heard against. But, a storyboard script isn’t very user-friendly.
Voiceovers often want to mark stuff up or use a tablet in the studio whilst they’re recording. They like the option of being able to change the font size or spacing to make it easier to sight read – and some actors like to print their scripts out and scribble all over them. All this is easy with a simple word doc – but less so with a storyboard or formatted doc. And scripts that are divided into sections on a storyboard can lose a sense of flow – the phrases feel disjointed and can and end up feeling choppy or fragmented. Plus it can be easier to get an overall feel for the script and understand the arc of the message when the whole piece is on a single document.A simple doc also means any amends are easier to paste in plus we can quickly get a word count (if we need one).doc – which is a real time suck.
So please do send over a storyboard (we love ‘em and they’re very useful) but including a simple document script too is very useful and makes it easier to get a great end result.
What does context mean?
Well, it’s a quick reminder of:
What the project is all about
Who the voice is talking to (your core listener or audience for this particular project)
What role the voice is playing.
(Remember, the voice is always somebody – they aren’t just a generic “narrator voice”. They’re the girl next door oran evil spirit or a trusted teacher.)
Knowing the context will ground your voice and give them a solid base to work from.And don’t be tempted to skip this bit because you think that the voice talent is too experienced to need it. You have a complete understanding of what you want – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the voiceover can see inside your head, even if they have been doing it for years!
Directing voice actors is all about providing them with the tools they need to deliver the best results.
Why do you as a director need to think about confidence in terms of your voice artist?
Well, the bottom line is that you’ll get so much more out of your voice. If they feel confident, they’ll feel braver, less nervous and they’ll be more likely to perform better.
I do a weekly improv class. After lockdown I was feeling a bit rusty – worried about performing in real life. My first class back, we had a guest director who spent a lot of time demonstrating how brilliant and experienced he was. He’d get up and show us how it SHOULD be done. He dissected and discussed what we were doing – to the point where I was second guessing everything and worried to do anything in case I “did it wrong”. I couldn’t think of a single original idea. Nothing.
The following week, we had a different guest director. She couldn’t have been more different. She enjoyed everything we were doing, she was charmed and involved and loved how we bounced ideas off one another. She encouraged us to go even further – offered us gifts and ideas to work with. She gave great constructive feedback but made us feel confident too. And the whole class was totally different (to me, anyway).
Feeling confident is a gift. And as a director – it’s your gift to give.
Confidence allows your voiceover actor to take more risks, be daring, try harder.
I’m not talking here about giving inexperienced voice artists false confidence. I’m talking about helping your experienced professional voice to feel relaxed, talented and trusted.
So here are some ideas to help your voice actor feel more confident.
If you’re directing in the same room or down the line there are some very easy wins:
From the start, be welcoming and friendly – and try not to say stuff like “we haven’t got much time…” or “this is going to be a tight session so we need to really get a move on”. There’s nothing more likely to make people anxious if they feel under pressure from the get go.
Once the session begins – let them give you a first read before you start directing. I’ve been in so many sessions where directors have told me in minute detail how they want all the lines or sections said before I’ve even opened my mouth but this is likely to kill any spontaneity, and create a layer of worry from the start.
A good way to think about the session is do lots of listening, enjoy the good stuff (and tell them that) and find positive ways to fix the stuff they may not be getting – yet.
Perfect the art of saying “oh I love what you’re doing there. Now, can we also try…”
The aim to build an atmosphere where the voiceover is happy to try different approaches with no trace of embarrassment – a playful, safe space.
And this applies to e-learning and corporate work just as much as it applies to gaming, animation or audio drama sessions.
If your relationship with the voiceover is purely through email – and lots of jobs are like that – you can still build confidence.
I’ve been doing some work with a new client recently and he’s managed to make me feel like I’m doing a great job simply in the manner and tone of his emails.
He’s given me clear, consistent info, asked my opinion on a number of occasions and his emails are always upbeat and positive. He hasn’t rushed me and was sympathetic and understanding about the recent heatwave. This is pretty much the email equivalent of everything above about in-person directing.
These are the clients we all want to work with.
So that’s it – 3 things your voice actor needs so they can get the job done brilliantly: script, context, confidence.
And if you need a British voice actor for your next project, do get in touch. I’m a full-time UK voiceover artist and director with a broadcast quality studio, based in London. You can listen to my voice demos here – or send me a brief 😉
I’m also the host of Talking Creative – the Art of Voiceover Directing – a podcast for creatives, voice directors and voice artists. This blog post is available as a podcast episode here.
And if you love to chat about voiceovers, directing and all kinds of creative stuff, please do connect or follow me on LinkedIn here. I’d love to link up.