As a voiceover artist, the ability to speak clearly, to enunciate (ee-NONE-see-ate) is key to getting the job done. Aside from the obvious time efficiency and saving the client money on studio hours, verbal skill is critical for this profession.

Speak clearly while speaking quickly. Spot got ten seconds of copy for a five second disclaimer? Sure, the engineer can edit out the breaths, but you’ve got to do the bulk of the work, zipping through that script while making sure that every word is delivered clearly enough to keep the legal department happy.

Speak clearly and translate on the fly. Say you’re tackling a fifteen-page training script for a corporate IT (EYE-tee) department. Your job is to deliver a line like this: “The minimum memory requirement is 128 MB for Windows 2000 and XP, or 512 MB for Windows Vista and at least 8 MB of Video-RAM shared memory set in BIOS”… and make it sound as natural as: “Pancakes are tasty!!” By the way, those MB’s have to be read as ‘megabyte’… BIOS is ‘BYE-oas’ and the clients will be rolling their eyes if you stumble over ‘Video-RAM-shared-memory-set’.

Speak clearly without tripping over twists of clever copy alliteration and rhyme. If you’ve done voiceovers long enough, you’ve run into those phrases or product names that are vocal landmines. But as a trained voice, it’s the rare tongue twister that’ll catch you. As a matter of fact, most of us are able to dazzle dinner companions with our ability to ‘say it three times fast’ without stumbling.

I thought of this when I recently read, what is reported to be, the World’s Hardest Tongue Twister according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Ready?

“The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick”

I found a few more in case you want to test yourself further… or if you would like to give your mouth a little work out:

·Big bug bit a bold bald bear and the bold bald bear bled blood badly.
·Brisk brave brigadiers brandished broad bright blades, blunderbusses, and bludgeons -- Balancing them badly.
·If you must cross a course cross cow across a crowded cow crossing, cross the cross coarse cow across the crowded cow crossing carefully.
·Imagine an imaginary menagerie manager managing an imaginary menagerie.
·Unique New York

For those of us who are like verbal gymnasts, these may not present much of a challenge. And that gives me a certain sense of pride, a badge of honor. But every once in a while, no matter how well trained and practiced, we get caught Or rather, I got caught. It was the name of a certain creature being spotlighted on some nature program I was watching with my daughter. I had to try it.

Baby black-backed jackals. Baby black-backed jackals. Baby black-backed jackals… Blaby black-back… Humility, thy name is bably back blacked… oh, you know.

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Comment by Cindy Clifford on September 7, 2009 at 7:29am
Mike! I love 'it ain't just talking"... and in my house owning a stove doesn't mean I'm going to even use it!
Just read your bio- and sounds like we have some really parallel paths- what stations did you work at and where are you living now?? And the World's Fair!! I just found a photo of my mom and I on the Swiss Sky Ride... and I most remember the Clairol Change Your Hair exhibit and the 7-Up foods of all nations... yum.

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