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The Essentials

Founder of the VoiceOver Network, Rachael Naylor shares her advice for voice over artists, including how to deliver a natural read

Sounding natural when you deliver your lines is a vital skill for every aspiring voice over artist. Not only does it showcase your abilities as an artist, but it’s also a desirable skill that every casting professional is looking for. Rachael Naylor, founder of The VoiceOver Network, has many years of experience in voice work. We asked her what tips she had for any aspiring voice over artists wondering how to improve their line delivery and make their dialogue sound natural.

Voice Over as a Business

Voice over is an exciting and growing industry, so it’s no wonder that new voice over artists are emerging every day. Thanks to organisations like The VoiceOver Network, there’s a whole support system in place to help you find your feet.

It’s important to remember that, as a voice over artist, you are also a business. You need to market yourselfhave a professional home studio set up, and invest in yourself like you would any other business. This means keeping your skill set up to date with what the market is demanding. And above all else, you need to love being a voice over artist.

How to Deliver a Natural Read

Natural line delivery is perhaps one of the most vital skills you’ll have in your arsenal, and well worth taking the time to learn. Here are some tips to help you sound natural when reading a script:

Understand the character

We’re most able to act naturally when we’re relaxed, so do what you can to remove unnecessary stress from the process. This will often take the form of doing research into your character and their motivations before your recording session. Familiarising yourself with the character’s desires and background will allow you to embody them more authentically – and be natural while you do it.

Imagine you’re speaking to someone

Rachael Naylor advises, “You need to imagine that there is somebody that you’re talking to and imagine who that is.”

It could be a family member, or a friend, or even your favourite actor. Whoever it is, you need to envision them across from you when you’re delivering your lines. This should encourage you to speak in a natural way – just like you would to someone in real life.

Study natural speech

Paying attention to how people speak in everyday life is a technique commonly recommended by vocal coaches. People normally speak with rhythm, pauses and inflections, so incorporating these into your performance will help make it feel more realistic.

Make the line your own

A lack of a natural read could be caused by the fact that we’re saying someone else’s words. They may be scripted in a way that’s different to how we’d naturally choose to say them.

“Another tip is just to ad-lib,” Rachael Naylor says. “Throw in some words before and after and understand what it is that you’re saying.”

By doing this, you can sandwich the dialogue that feels unnatural between words that are authentically yours. In practice, this authenticity should carry you to a more natural-sounding delivery.

Trust your instincts

Don’t be afraid to take risks and try out different ways of delivering your lines. If you feel like you need to deliver a line in a certain way, you will subconsciously act in a way that fulfils that imagined criteria.

Seek feedback

It’s difficult to tell whether your own delivery sounds natural or not. Seek advice and be open to constructive feedback from vocal coaches or trusted peers when you practise your lines. They may be able to offer you valuable insight to help you refine your delivery.

From all of us at Spotlight, a huge thank you to Rachael for your insightful advice!

Take a look at our website for more voice tips.

Image credit: Joanna Nicole Photography