Improv is an acting technique where the actors react spontaneously to circumstances, scenarios, and each other, developing the characters and the scene as they go. Using improv in your voice-over practice will allow you to make strong choices and break patterns in your script reads. It can help you expand your creative muscles and vocal range, conceptualize characters and different points of view, and speak in a variety of cadences and inflections to create the best way of getting your point across to your listening audience. It’s also a great way to improve your ability to quickly incorporate direction and client feedback in your reads.
Here are some ways you can use improvisation techniques in your voice-over practices to help you expand your creative muscles and come through with stronger reads.
Improv can be used to practice and develop character choices and their points of view. This doesn’t mean cartoon characters (although you can use the same concept for those) this just means normal characters in your everyday life that you can do the voice-over for without a bunch of different vocal ranges. Make a list of a variety of character types such as an expert, parent, farmer, doctor, teacher, customer, or businessman. You can use emotions like a person who is overwhelmed, stressed, extremely happy, sad, or flirty. Write these character choices down, cut them into slips and put them in a jar, hat, or something you can draw the slips out of. Then get some commercial or narration scripts together. With each script, draw something out of the jar. Practice reading the script with the character or emotion that you drew. Try different types of characters on each script and see how your voice cadence, mood, and inflection change with each one. This is great for practicing different points of view and can come in handy when analyzing new scripts for auditions or various types of voice-over work.
You can also use improv to pull your natural excitement or different emotions from your real-life and have them come out in your voice-over reads. An improv game you can use to practice this is giving yourself something to talk about that is similar in emotion to the script you’re reading and having that emotion carry right over into your script.
Let’s say you have a script for a new health food brand. In the script, you are a person that is telling your friend about this great new product that you love. Now, imagine a product that you truly love in real life.
- Think of something that would hold that same excitement for you and imagine the exact friend you would tell about it.
- Set an alarm for 30 seconds. As soon as the timer starts, start imagining that your friend is there and start telling them out loud about the product that you love. Feel the excitement that you’re building when you imagine them there and keep talking for the entire 30 seconds to them until the timer is up.
- As soon as the timer rings, go directly to the voice-over script you have about the health food. Embody the same energy and excitement you built when you talked about something you loved.
This exercise can help you come in strong from the start, break patterns in your reads, and discover new energies that you have behind your voice.
Improv techniques help you make strong choices when developing stories and creating a character’s point of view. We can incorporate these techniques when we are analyzing a new voice-over script. The more practice you have in changing your tones and cadences around when you read, the more you’ll be able to shift quicker and more naturally throughout reading a variety of different voice-over scripts. Let yourself get into it and watch how your tones and emotions expand naturally. As always, have fun!
Want some more SAV insight on how improv can help your voice-over technique? Look no further than this blog article from producer Claudine!