Voiceover Narration, Creating Performances from the Inside Out
I had never planned to write a voiceover book—there are plenty of those around—but things change.
Years ago, I began to notice a disconnected quality within some narration reads. I came across many a corporate video where the narrator’s voice sounded pleasant enough and the delivery seemed to be well executed, but the overall message felt hollow—it just didn’t reach me as a listener. I sensed that some documentary narrators were more focused on what they sounded like than on sharing information with the viewer, and I saw many instructional videos where the narration simply didn’t work with the visuals and music. I wanted to understand how and why performances like these missed the mark.
I began closely observing my own narration reads (internally as well as the recordings) and those of the students I was working with. It quickly became clear that there is an inextricable link between the quality of a voiceover performance and the internal workings of the performer. I’m not referring to mood or general health (though these can certainly have an effect) but rather the narrator’s investment in the read—intellectually, physically, and emotionally. I looked at what kind of mental chatter students were contending with, where their focus was (or wasn’t) being placed, and how impatience, perfectionism, and other personal tendencies were affecting their reads.
The puzzle pieces slowly came together as I began to fold these ideas and techniques into more of my teaching. The results were incredible. I witnessed astonishing improvements in students’ performances, often within minutes. Once they understood and managed what was going on inside, everything outside changed.
I knew I had to write about this “psychology of narration” that I had stumbled upon and explore some interesting questions about what goes on within a great narrator to make them great: What happens in their mind, body, and voice, and how do they juggle it all? How do they infuse a read with authority, empathy, or drama? How do they prepare, stay focused, and manage nervous energy? In this book, you will find the answers to these questions and more, compiled from many years of observation, practice, and rooting around in the psyches of voice actors.
‘Pay it forward’, ‘give back’, ‘pass the torch’…
Call it what you will, but I think everyone who has achieved success in their chosen field should devote some time to helping others do the same. It would be such a shame if we all worked and learned and struggled and climbed, and never gifted all that knowledge to anyone else. With 23 years of practical voiceover experience, 15 years of teaching and a PTLLS Level 4 teaching qualification, I’ve learned a lot about voiceover and how to teach it. I get such a kick out of exploring voiceover and character work with eager students!
The teaching and coaching services I offer take a few different forms:
City Lit, London
Narration Skills – 6 week courses and weekend workshops
For more information, visit http://www.citylit.ac.uk/courses
If you would like to arrange a workshop, please get in touch to discuss your requirements. I have facilitated workshops at: A1 Vox Studios, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, CPA Studios, Alex Reed Academy, The Showreel, The Courtyard Theatre School, City Lit, and The VoiceOver Network and in Latvia for the Riga International Film Festival.
General voiceover, narration, or character work. Sessions are 1.5 hours and are held at The Shed Studio in East London or via Zoom. Please get in touch to arrange a free 15-minute consultation.
VO Yoga, a voiceover workout for mind, body & soul
VO Yoga is a voiceover workout like no other. We tackle the deep stuff: mindset, focus, clearing mental clutter, breaking bad habits, silencing the inner critic, and getting your mind, body and voice to work together as a team.
I wanted to create a monthly workout group where the concepts explored in my book could be put into practice—helping voice actors create and deliver more intuitive voiceover performances.
VO Yoga sessions are on the last Thursday of the month from 6-8pm UK time, so get yourself a ticket, either as a reader or an observer. If you’re an observer, you can just relax and take it all in (you can learn a LOT this way). If you’re one of five lucky readers, bring a piece of copy you’d like to work on and together, we’ll transform your performance—from the inside out.