by Jim Boldebook
Professional Voice-Over Secrets
If you, or someone in your dealership does on-camera work or voice-overs for radio, here are some professional ‘secrets’ from someone who’s been doing broadcast work for over a half-century. Having worked in every aspect of broadcast marketing since I was 18, I’ve always been an ardent admirer and student of those who can convincingly motivate, inspire and sell using their voice.
I’ve been tutored and mentored by some of the most successful talents in America, and in return have constantly worked to polish my craft while helping numerous dealers and managers be the best they can be on Television, Video and Radio. So, here we go..
For some reason most people think they have to change their voice or delivery style or pitch when they get in front of a camera or microphone. Huge mistake. Be yourself. Of course you might want to be a little more upbeat and enthusiastic, but you don’t want to try and sound like some radio announcer. Your voice is a part of your individual ‘signature’. Don’t try to sound like someone else. Be yourself.
Take the time to read over any script several times. Read it out loud. If there is a word you’re having trouble with…change it or delete it or rearrange the sentence. Highlight or underline words you believe need stronger inflection. Get involved with the copywriting if you need to. It should sound like you…the way you normally talk. I just read one of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read by an old time comedian. Instead of writing, he just told stories into the microphone and it was transcribed exactly as he voiced it. Reading the book was just like sitting across the table listening to him speak. You could actually hear his voice in your head. The more convinced your audience is that you are really saying what you believe and that people are not putting words in your mouth, the bigger the buy-in belief-factor of your message.
Read Out Loud
When it comes to underlining ‘inflections’…words you want to stand out, read the sentence out loud. Sometimes the words you want to emphasize are different from what the copy-writer underlined. Example: The copy-writer wrote “This weekend we’ve put additional discounts on a number of our vehicles. Click on to our website right now…even if you looked yesterday… check out our prices today!” But when you read this line, you might re-arrange the inflections like this: “This weekend we’ve put additional discounts on a number of our vehicles. Click onto our website right now…even if you looked yesterday!”
That one single action can make the world of difference in your delivery. Try to smile as you speak. Smiling can inspire confidence in your voice and message. A smile in your voice says you believe in what you are saying. It says this message is good news. And beneficial. Go ahead…test it. Read something without expression, then try reading the piece with a smile on your face. This works on radio, Television, and in presentations to a group of 10 or 1000.
Open Your Mouth
This might be the biggest professional secret of all. I learned it in voice lessons when I attended broadcast school. It may sound goofy, but try reading an article with your mouth open and watch how much easier it is to enunciate and pronounce. Opening your mouth helps prevent slurring of words.
Just before you read a script, try taking several deep breaths to get a little extra oxygen in your lungs. As you speak, try pushing out the air from your stomach, not just your lungs. It will give a little extra punch to your delivery.
Don’t run sentences together. Speak sentences clearly as one thought. Pause if you need to between sentences and paragraphs. Often people lose their inflection and enthusiasm after the first line. Make a slight pause between sentences for edit purposes. Remember, the period at the end of the sentence means the end. A stopping point for that thought. Your voice should come down to a close at the end of the sentence.
Don’t Repeat Well Executed Lines
If you read/say a line and it comes out the way you want, but then you flub the next line…DON’T go back and repeat from the beginning. That’s in the can. Just pick up the next line after a slight pause/edit point. The same with when you say a line that you know you could say better. Just make a slight pause, then say the line again. Digital editing makes it super easy to cut, delete and paste. No voice over has to be done over from the beginning with the new digital editing techniques.
On Camera Tips
Don’t read from cue cards. A zillion directors out there will disagree with me but only highly trained professional actors with years of experience can read from cue cards and teleprompters and make it sound like they are not reading. You’re much better off to memorize lines even if it requires a number of different camera angles or cover. You might want to consider memorizing a couple of good opening and closing lines and then reading the rest of the copy as a voice over showing the dealership, vehicles, etc.