Working Wednesday: Bring YOU To Your Voice-Over Character

Working Wednesday: Bring YOU To Your Voice-Over Character

voice-over characterVoice-over is perfect for those of us that want to play “let’s pretend.” We sometimes carry as many as twenty different characters/personalities around in our pocket. It’s also fabulous for those of us that don’t love being in front of the camera or on stage. We can be just as crazy as we want to be in the comfort of our home studio and no one can see us!  

I wanted to devote my fourth Working Wednesday to the acting component of voice-over and how to tap into discovering and playing your voice-over character.

Think of different roles you play in your everyday life. You are a mom or dad, a son or daughter, a best friend, a co-worker, a next door neighbor. You are always on in some capacity and at some level.  

As a producer, I want to get to know you, the voice talent, in the first script session. I need to find out what brought you to this incredible industry and what your voicing passions are to get a feel for your sound in conversation and in delivery. With all the questions I ask, it will probably feel like voice-over speed dating.

In the second session, I want to get you on the voice stage and explore your range. It’s all about creating diversity from spot to spot. Will the spots sound like you? Of course. It’s your voice. But creating range from spot to spot prevents your public service announcement for Doctors Without Borders from sounding like your binge watching Netflix commercial.

When I started my voice-over career, I was frequently asked, “Do you have any experience in acting?” Dude, I taught middle school English for several years, I was on stage every day! So, don’t feel that you haven’t any experience with the acting side of voice-over just because you haven’t played Broadway. You simply get in touch with your creative side. Let yourself go. Play with the words. Go OTT (over the top).

I began my voice-over career part-time while I was still working my second career in corporate America. I would be practicing and auditioning in the late evenings and thinking that I sounded quite fabulous. I actually sounded pretty darn boring, so I had to figure out why the personality and acting was falling short.


voice-over character

Here are several tips and techniques that I began to use to up my voicing game.

I bought a 5×7 mirror that I prop on my music stand. Being able to see myself smile and move while delivering has made a huge difference. Moving makes a tremendous difference in your performance. It’s part of acting.

Talk with your hands.

Make a “pouty” face.

Try different smiles.

Look for instrumentals that ‘fit’ the copy and listen to the music loop a couple of times.
Turn down the music and practice over it while it’s playing. It’s great for finding the rhythm in your delivery.

Take one line or one phrase from the copy, look away from the script, and say it to my imaginary friend across the room. In this case, I am literally NOT reading it, so I can get a feel for how it should sound in genuine conversation.

To get into my voice-over character before the first word of the script, I sometimes “work backwards.” Take the tagline and say it first, then loop back up to the first line of the copy. It can help get you settled into your character.

Select and visualize the rich words in the script and ask yourself how they direct and mold the character you’re portraying. You don’t want to say them louder or with more inflection. You want to create excitement, tension, and suspense with your emotional tone.

Practice different pacing within a sentence. Timing your pauses can definitely make the spot more interesting and comedic timing can make the client smile.

And don’t forget to work on your weaknesses. So many times we have the tendency to focus only on our strengths, but if we work on improving our weak areas, we’ll be a more well rounded voice artist.

Remember YOU and your performance are the message the audience will receive. The more you can get in touch with the actor inside of you, the better your performance will be.  


I’ve included links to some of my favorite commercials. Enjoy the performances featured in each spot!

Discover Card Annual Fee


Hilton Garden Inn gin fizz


Jake From State Farm


Whole Foods Market Haul


Kia soft sell


Whole Foods Pastabilities




Lincoln Navigator


State Farm



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