Whether you’re a professional voice actor, or someone who is just breaking in to this wacky business, it’s important to develop and maintain your performing skills. You’ve no doubt heard stories about concert pianists who practice 8 hours a day – every day – in order to stay in top form. As voice-over artists, we need to do the same thing.
Ours is a performing craft, and we must be diligent about learning new skills and staying on top of the skills we have mastered. We need to constantly improve our talents for creating character voices, script interpretation, listening, responding believably, and expanding our marketing skills. Most voice coaches will recommend at least one to two hours of reading out loud each day to maintain your skills.
This means setting aside a specific period of time each day during which you will focus exclusively on developing your voice-over skills. This is in addition to your regular study of what other voice-artists are doing by listening to commercials, watching TV or animation, and taking classes. Most professionals constantly practice their technique by experimenting with new interpretation ideas and attitudes, and with every script they will explore different angles for interpreting the copy.
Practice is the process of learning and refining the skills you use as a performer – and it’s a process that never ends. For voice-over, practice requires working with a script to understand its message and develop an interpretation. The goal is to build an arsenal of performing tools and techniques that become automatic to the point where you don’t have to think about what you are doing.
To reach that goal, you must deliver the copy out loud – not silently in your head. Practicing out loud is the only way you can really find an interpretation that works. If you develop an interpretation by reading a script silently, it’s almost guaranteed that when you deliver the lines out loud for the first time – it will sound completely different from what you thought it would sound like.
You’ll save a lot of time and effort by working the copy out loud from the very start. Constant practice develops the habit of exploring new ways of interpreting a script, finding the techniques that work for you, and building on that experience to become a more excellent voice-actor. Be excellent! Keep practicing!