When we talk about “trends” in voice acting, the word, “trends,” itself reflects the nature of the voice-over business – it’s ever-changing. It’s important to keep up with these changes in order to stay competitive in your auditions. Luckily, if you are observant and analytical, it’s fairly easy to tell which way vocal deliveries are headed! (Note: In this article, I am referring specifically to commercial voice-overs, however, trends tend to influence all genres.)
Tune in to any network channel and you’ll see and hear wildly divergent commercials, yet you’ll also see one common trend with commercial voice-overs today: they’re real, believable, and entertaining.
Advertising is veering away from the sales pitch in commercial voice-overs for a variety of reasons:
- Folks are much more sophisticated today. There is a general mistrust of hard-selling commercials.
- People are busier than ever, and in some ways, more isolated from others due to technology. They want to hear someone real and approachable, who they can relate to in a personal way.
Believe it or not, smartphones may be the biggest driver of change in advertising. According to the Telegraph, “…The average human attention span has fallen from twelve seconds in 2000, or around the time the mobile revolution began, to eight seconds.” (Watson, 2015). This means advertisers must constantly devise clever new ways to hold the audience’s attention!
Since they only have a few seconds to grab our attention, ad agencies are cooking up everything from talking bathroom fixtures to highly produced commercials that seem more like movies (think about the recent road trip/Volvo ad). Commercials run the gamut from the ridiculous to the sublime.
Advertisers are also trying to capture the audience’s attention by using well-known actors. This trend is shaking up the voice-over industry! There was a time when all you needed was a great voice for a commercial, but now we must use voice acting techniques to bring more dimension to our delivery.
Now more than ever, it’s imperative to bring our unique human qualities to voice acting. It’s our responsibility to understand the copywriter’s emotional intention for the actor, and then make it our own.
One way to get connected to the writer’s intention is to ask ourselves, “Do I care about what I am about to say?” If you do, great! If you don’t, you need to find a way to make yourself care. Therein lies the connection.
Acting coach Joe Pearlman believes it’s imperative to know what exactly makes you unique. He calls it discovering your “fingerprint.” It’s that thing about your personality you can’t change and wouldn’t want to change. It may be a quality that you think is a flaw like a quirky laugh, a funny way of inflecting, or a unique tone in your voice. Determine what it is that sets you apart from everyone else and flaunt it!
Real human beings are now a sought-after commodity in casting. Luckily, you fit the bill! Work on bringing your total self to each read. Each day, before you record, go to the mirror and say, “I am enough.” Because you are.
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About the Author
Nancy Wilson is a producer and coach at Such A Voice. She is a busy voice actor and environmental writer, as well as a member of the SAG/AFTRA Radio Plays committee.