Improvisation skills and being able to think fast on your feet (or voice) when given direction is a necessity when recording most voice over projects in the studio. Our job as a voice actor is to give voice and emotion to the set of words in the script/copy. We must translate the emotion of the words through our voice in our reads.
For this exercise, I borrowed the “Emotion Wheel” from the Junto Institute and added a simple sentence: “She ate the whole thing it’s never been done before.”
Now by saying this flat, it’s pretty boring and we aren’t sure if you are happy, sad, etc. But once you pick an emotion to attach our voice seems to “come alive”. The audience then feels some sort of empathy you are drawing them in by the story you have created in your mind based on the direction or the “situation” you are given or come up with.
Now let’s add some “pre-life” and “post-life”, or a couple of words or sounds at the beginning or end of the sentence “She ate the whole thing, it’s never been done before”.
Using the emotion “amazed”.. It might sound like this:
“Wow! She ate the whole thing, it’s never been done before! That’s awesome!”
“Wow” was the pre-life and “That’s awesome” was the post-life, carrying the “amazed” sound in your voice throughout.
Hearing the emotion in your voice is important for this game. And coming up with pro-life and post-life improves your improv ability.
Now, give yourself an imaginary situation -maybe it was a pie-eating contest your sister won.
The emotion is “Surprise”.
Perhaps… “Wait, WHAT? She ate the whole thing? It’s never been done before! I can’t believe it!
Now pick different emotions and practice this game alone, or with family and friends and test their “acting” abilities! After all, voice-over performance is all about having fun, a confident performance and finding empathy and understanding for the copy given.