"You have such a nice voice!": the 5 layers needed for voice-over

Edge Studio Coaches

Edge Studio Coaches

When I teach “Investigate Voice-Over” classes for Edge Studio – either in the CT or NYC studio, on a telecall/webinar, in Continuing Education sessions or at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting – I usually begin by asking students what brought them to the class.
If I had, say, a dollar for every answer that began, “Everyone says I have such a good voice…” I would at least be able to buy that ipad I’ve got my eye on.? And, yes, I’m thrilled to see anyone who takes steps to satisfy their curiosity.? Taking that first step takes courage, because sometimes a dream (“I could make it in voice-over someday if I want to”) is easier to handle than a goal (“Let me find out the reality of voice-over and then decide if I want to do what it takes”).
If you do take that first step -finding out the facts – I applaud you! Maybe you’ll

a moment of focus!

decide it’s a lot harder than you thought, and it’s not really for you. Or maybe you’ll love it so much that you can’t wait to start investing your time and – let’s face it – money into starting a voice-over business. Either way, you’re ahead whenever you learn something.
So – what does it take? Five layers!
1- A voice. Um, yeah. So -? maybe it’s pleasant, or unique, or makes people smile. Your “voice adjectives” will provide the first ideas as to where you might fit in this business. But voice is also about control of accents/speech defects/regionalisms. It’s about vocal care, and knowing how to breathe properly. This may take work – singing lessons, speech therapy, learning about the care of your instrument.
2- Reading Skills – You must be able to read fluently, fluidly, and with comprehension.? So many of my newbie students simply don’t know how to read well. Part of your brain has to think ahead, part must stay in the moment. It’s called lateral reading. And – if you don’t understand what you’re reading, and the purpose for every phrase, the listener definitely won’t either.
3-Acting skills – who are you? who are you talking to? why are you saying these words? Actors call it “motivation.” You’d better know how to communicatethe words to your listener. It’s not called “Voice Reading” -? it’s called “Voice Acting.” What can help? Acting and/or improvisation classes.
improv class

improv class

4- Technique – Acting uses a lot of the “right brain” – where imagination and the “big picture” reign. But it’s also about technique, and the compartmentalized skills (“left brain”) that mean you can control tempo, pitch, volume, articulation, microphone placement, etc.? Clients will expect this professionalism. The answer? Training, then focused practice until technique is so second-nature you don’t have to overthink it anymore – think driving range in golf.
5 – Business savvy and willingness – This is a business, people. If you don’t want to run one, read to your kids instead.? You can get a lot of joy out bringing words to life off the page – you just won’t get paid for it without treating voice-over like the business it is.
Want to know more? career center,, youtube, google – there’s a ton of info out there! Set up a couple of sessions with a voice-0ver coach, or take a class. At the very least, you’ll have a good time, learn a little, and take home some skills that help in any kind of communication.
Good luck!

Reader Interactions


  1. Right on the money, Randy. A fine guide for beginners who are unlikely to realize how tough it is to succeed even with a great voice.
    I would only add that in today’s market place, one must go wide to get the greatest exposure to producers who hire voice talent — and then cultivate the people who hire them. The returning client list is what it’s all about.
    Michael Schoen

    • I couldn’t agree more Michael – a good rule in any business! If I look at my last 10 bookings, 8 were repeat clients and 2 were referrals from those clients!

  2. Hi Randy… nice collection of thoughts! Very comprehensive. A good synopsis of the biz!
    I hope you’ll allow me to send this along with my no BS reply to the next email I get
    asking how to get into a voice over career. Like you I usually ask someone why they’d like
    to have a career in VO. And usually get the same lame answers that we’ve all heard.
    But sometimes I’m surprised when I see they’ve done their homework and show some awareness.
    Thanks for your thoughts!


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