Voice-over classes are important for anyone who wants to make it in the VO industry. These classes teach you how to use your voice, maximize your performance, and approach voiceover auditions. They also offer lessons on microphone technique and character development. And that’s the easy part! Voice-over classes help coach you in the areas of marketing, business, decision making, and how to join voice talent rosters.
And if you think that’s all they offer, think again-these classes also give you access to an established network of actors, directors, producers, casting agents, and other professionals within the industry!
1. Voiceover classes teach you how to work with your voice.
Voiceover classes help you develop a repertoire of natural voices and accents. They will also show you how to use your voice in different ways when it’s needed – for example, a commercial voiceover read will differ from an e-learning narration read which differs from an audiobook VO or animation voiceover.
In addition, these classes provide instruction on microphone techniques. Examples of this include the proper way to position a mic for those commercial or e-learning projects vs. recording voiceovers for animation films. Another helpful element that is included in these classes is how to approach voiceover auditions, which can seem intimidating for newcomers to the industry!
2. Voice acting classes prepare you for auditions
Voiceover audition tips include everything from warming up before auditions and making sure to have a good voice tone to script analysis and the production of the audition audio itself. Voice-over auditions also require the person auditioning to be able to put themselves into different characters and portray specific emotions. Many times that character is simply being yourself and delivering copy in a natural “talking to a friend” tone – which is harder than it seems sometimes!
Do you slate? How do you slate? What makes a “best take”? How long should I spend on a VO audition? How do I approach an audition? Am I the right fit for this audition? These are all questions a good VO coach can teach you in a voiceover class.
A final note that someone should follow when going into a voice-over audition is not being fearful of trying something new. Voice acting classes help prepare you for this. This can lead to voice-acting opportunities that weren’t previously available to you!
3. Maximize your performance with voice acting training
Voiceover classes teach a variety of skills including the use of voice to make a character seem real. They also teach how to vary the tone of your voice, and how to talk to an audience.
Voice-over coaches work with students individual pieces of a script to help the talent make the best delivery choices in a given situation. Voice-actors are often required to portray many different emotions in their work, and that can be challenging! There’s nothing like trying to get into character for a profession you’ve never tried before!
Voice-over classes will teach you the proper way to approach and perform for a variety of readers. The best voiceover coaches (and classes) provide students with multiple readings, varying from e-Learning to audiobook narration or commercial voiceovers – so they can start getting good practice in these areas!
4. Learn proper voiceover microphone technique
There are a few different types of mic placement for voice-over performances, but there are also some general rules to follow. The first rule is that it’s always best to speak directly into the microphone, or at a slight angle (no more than 30 degrees), about 6-12 inches from your mouth. Be close enough to prevent any ambient sound from interfering with your recording, but not so close you introduce “plosives” or what’s called “proximity effect” of being too close to a mic.
Use the distance as a tool. Snuggle up closer for more intimate reads, and stay back a little for more conversational or higher energy reads. A good coach will help you find the sweet spot.
Lastly, coaches help make sure you speak in a relaxed tone and breathe properly when recording – this will produce cleaner audio recordings and help avoid future tension or headaches…you own headaches or that of a frustrated producer cleaning up bad audio!
And what about purchasing your own microphone and other equipment? Which mic is best for me? A good voiceover coach can help guide you to the best equipment and how to use it. (extra bonus…check out this Microphone Shootout from Sweetwater to also help you find the best voiceover microphone.
5. Voice-over classes help with character development
A voice actor needs to be able to portray a character in a convincing way. You may ask “do I really develop a character if I am reading car commercials or delivering training content on the proper use of a hard-hat?” Yes! Every project you voice has you in a particular role – a character. That character is key to delivering a believable, authentic, connected read.
A coach can help the talent do this by going over their lines and helping with acting choices, like what might make the character sound more authentic.
For example, is there a regional dialect you should try to include in your line reading? Acting for animation films differs from commercial or e-learning projects because of how they’re recorded and what’s animated. Commercials and e-learning projects will require a cleaner sound, while animated films should sound more “cartoony” with broader deliveries. The coach can help the voice-actor find what might be most appropriate for the project at hand.
6. Voiceover is 5% acting, and 95% marketing
Marketing is so important to voice actors because if they don’t market themselves, nobody else will. If you’re not marketing yourself, then no one will know about the work that you’re doing. When people come across your work, they may not be interested in it if they don’t know you exist.
The marketing doesn’t just have to happen during the actual process of getting a voice gig; it should carry on throughout your career and show up in all aspects of your life. One of the best ways for your marketing to have a continual impact is with social media. You should use social media to optimize your online presence and allow people the opportunity to find out more about what you do.
A good voiceover coach will make sure your website is the best it can be. Is it easy to find your demos? Can a prospect contact you easily? There are things you will learn in a voiceover class.
We can spend this entire article on the area of voice-over marketing (and we will soon!), but just keep this in mind…many coaches (including those at Radio Lounge) have seen it all. Many of us work “both sides of the glass” as voice talent and producers. We have seen what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to marketing. That question you have has been answered before and that’s where the collective brainpower between coach and student in a voice acting class has tremendous benefit in help you not waste money on ineffective marketing tactics.
7. Your voiceover business is just that – a business
Voiceover is a business, not a hobby. For some people, it has been their entire livelihood. Others do voiceover on the side as a lucrative hobby. One of the biggest benefits of a voiceover class or working directly with an experienced voice-over coach is business guidance.
Disclaimer, coaches provide advice in many areas including accounting and basic legal – always work with licensed accounting and legal professionals in these certain areas.
You run a business, and there are so many areas of voiceover that need to be treated just like any other business – proper entity setup (i.e. sole-proprietor vs. LLC, vs S-Corp, vs. C-Corp, etc.), sales, marketing (mentioned earlier), collections, accounting, bookkeeping, tech, and the list goes on and on.
A voice actor’s work and salary are reliant on how they grow their business through marketing and other aspects of running a business.
A voice-acting coach will help with this process by offering tips and insight to help you improve your skills in these areas while also discussing tactics that might be appropriate to your goals and needs as an individual.
8. Talent agency connections
Being accepted by an accredited talent agency is a good thing. Although it is just one avenue of revenue, landing on an agency roster often brings a line of steady work with industry-standard rates.
Voiceover classes often bring agency connections with them. Here at Radio Lounge, we work with agencies as a producer and as a resource for their voice talent. Most agencies operate solely from referrals. It really is who you know. It’s that added benefit of having coaches who are connected to the industry. Many of our voiceover students have taken the training and demos created at Radio Lounge to various agencies with great success.
9. Voice over training helps with decision making
Now, there’s no need to go it alone – the voice acting class will give you the skills, knowledge, and connections to start your voiceover career. Group classes are made up of other voice actors just like you with the same goals. One-on-one classes offer opportunities to get specific questions answered. There is a huge amount of industry wisdom available, which is why voice-over training is so popular. You’ll be able to fine-tune your work and be exposed to others who can help coach you to make your work even better. In these classes, you’ll learn things like:
– How to identify and avoid bad auditions or agents – Skills for handling tough demo calls – How to prepare for jobs in various media formats – How to handle difficult clients over the phone or in person, and much more.
10. Voice over classes can help you develop your narration and acting style
The goal of a coach in a voice acting class is to guide students on the direction they want their career to go in so that they are moving forward toward their goals, not just treading water or wasting time. For many new voice actors, this is the first time they have been able to work with a professional closely in order to learn their craft. They have usually only had help from friends and family or tried online tutorials.
Sometimes these are fine avenues for learning, but not as effective as one-on-one coaching with an experienced voice-over coach.
Classes will help you develop your voiceover style.
Learning to be a voice actor can be frustrating at first, but in many cases, it’s very rewarding once the proper techniques and training are learned.
10.5 Get Exposure: Networking with other voice over actors & agents
In larger parts of the country there may not be many classes, but networking and getting to know other actors can be an invaluable experience. Radio Lounge provides in-person Houston voice-over classes for those in the area, as well as virtual voiceover classes. Sessions are recorded and you get to hear yourself and your coach’s instructions in between lessons to work on your craft.
The voiceover industry is really a large community. A community of fellow voice actors. A community of producers. A community of talent agencies. And they all know each other and work with each other. Networking is huge in voice acting and a good coach can help make introductions and open doors.
Voice over classes are important!
There are many voice-over classes and courses available today that can help you become a professional voice actor or improve your existing skillset. It’s important to take the time to research what is best for you – every student has different goals, learning styles, schedules, etc.,
Remember, most classes are put on by professionals who have experience working in the industry, so there is no reason why you can’t find one that fits into your lifestyle, or at least a course that is close to where you live or work. When looking for the right voice-over class, look into different options so you can find what will be best for your individual needs.
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Your voice needs to stand out and be noticed by producers, agents and casting directors. But beware of inexperienced (and often unscrupulous) so-called "coaches" and "demo services". Our experienced team of experts will help you with voiceover training and create a demo that showcases your unique talent and gets you work in no time - just as we have done for the past 25 years.
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M. Bruce Abbott is the Creative Director/Partner at Radio Lounge. Bruce has over 30 years experience as a voice actor, casting and production director, as well as extensive advertising, marketing, and podcasting experience.