Millennial’s have Landed and come in Peace. Voice over Talent take note
There was a time when the baby boomers had the grasp on the marketplace and were out working, so their children would have food, education and a future. They recognized that their time had come and were using it to their advantageIt was pre-iPhone, pre-laptop, pre-instant gratification culture. As a voice over talent, it wasn’t uncommon to walk the streets with a roll of quarters and call a talent agent or an answering machine, to hear if you had an audition. If you were smart, you wore a beeper, so you could be notified a little sooner. But above all you knew, your talent was relevant because you fit the demographic of the advertising and the commercial audience, buyers were focused on.
Now that time has changed and with it so have the commercials buyers and the consumers who they market. Voice over producers are the children of boomers. Generation X is now a generation of parents and Millennials will soon be the largest portion of the workforce, with a whole set of values and a whole new voice in the marketplace. The voice of the announcer has gone from the over articulated TV announcer, devoid of feelings or opinions in their best reporting tone, to the natural, conversational, commenter of today. It’s a voice that has been influenced by the Millennial generation’s focus on authenticity. And it represents all that “truth in advertising” was supposed to provide.
The announcer is no longer announcing, but speaking or talking to us. The presenter sprinkles the subtext of the copy, with the emotional life of the moment. Our interest is piqued and there is a new alliance with the speaker, which gives us permission to have feelings for what is being spoken about. And generations of voice over must either join this new, truthful way of presenting copy or they will not be able to be competitive in the voice over marketplace.Much like in artwork or print, even typeface represents an era or a style that is reminiscent of a time period. Your voice is a vivid barometer of your age, your preferences, and your personality. The challenge to any voice artist is to be true to the moment. Young people don’t do a good job of sounding older and the reverse is true for older actors as well. Who you are is the reason you are hired. React to the moment and let that, propel your copy. Enjoy having the opportunity to approach the copy in a new and refreshing way each time you speak.
This society is looking for the truth. Change comes quickly and these changes are a reflection of the variety of life and lifestyles that we have been exposed to. Embrace them, listen, learn, and use them for your business’ advantage. So, if you are marketing yourself as a contemporary talent, but your style is a remnant of the past or a voice that is not your own, it won’t work. Focus on finding your voice, which is truly unique, and the work will come.
Reading without punctuation and conversation with punctuation are anathemas.
Confused? Read on.
Growing up, we’re taught that punctuation is the guiding principle of language. Whether reading out loud or silently, it is our instinct to follow the guidelines of punctuation. In conversational speech, however, the guidelines are different. When we are having a truly authentic conversation with one or more people,, there are no punctuation or grammatical marks to follow or lead us. Subconsciously, conversational speech allows us to “let go” or forget the rules in the moment.
Let’s look at a page of text. The printed words on paper are equidistant from each other, so the reader tends to verbalize them in a symmetrical fashion to mimic this distance. Not the conversational speaker.
Conversational speech and conversational reads of text, use the natural journey between words, which is asymmetrical. With this technique, the ideas and the emotional life of the speaker dictates the breaths, speed, pauses, stops and “coloring” of the words, not punctuation. Emphasis and dynamics are dictated by the emotional qualities of the moment, making each read a unique dialogue (never a monologue).
By “letting go,” of preconceived notions that copy must be “read, rather than spoken authentically and emotionally, you will begin to nurture and develop this conversational VO style. With practice, this technique allows you to convey the ideas and feelings behind the copy while remaining sensitive to your listener’s needs. In order to get there, however, we need to undo years of being prisoner of punctuation and learn to reject the rules. I hope you’ll join me in this journey!
I have always felt greatly at ease having conversations with people off “the top of my head.” I love telling stories, jokes and sharing life’s adventures spontaneously. However, some people are uncomfortable ad-libbing.
This brings me to a question I hear a lot from voiceover clients and students: “What is conversational speech?”
During our day, while speaking with others, all of us make conversation as the situation demands. When we do, we’re improvising. All conversation is improvised. “Conversational speech” is a technique that relies on this idea, helping us to take someone else’s (written) words and make them sound as if they are our own - with unique cadences, inflections and tonal qualities. This process is just that: a process that can be learned and a skill honed with practice. It is what I have learned to do from some great teachers and it is what I love sharing with voiceover students.
Convincing your audience that you are sincere is accomplished by speaking to them, not reading to them. Conversational speech helps bridge the gap between merely reading words and speaking words. Conversational speech is all about you. All about you, is how I approach my journey with my students.
Please visit this Blog each week as I help you on this exciting new journey to share my experiences and tips.