Voice Over Education Blog

October 2017

Vocal health calls for "Goldilocks" humidity this winter. Part 1 of 2.

NOTE: This is the first post in a 2-part article. Click here to read part 2!

EdgeStudio.com has a lot of information about vocal health. You'll find links to much of it at the end of this article. One subject we've barely touched on, however, is the matter of indoor humidity. Moisture in the air is important to maintaining good vocal health, but you can also have too much humidity. There are various ways of maintaining humidity, each with certain advantages and dangers.

Important: We are not medical experts and cannot give medical advice. This is not exhaustive information. If you have any question or concern about your health or any symptom, consult your doctor without delay. If anyone has a respiratory difficulty (e.g., asthma, allergy to mites or mold), consult a physician before using a humidifier. Exercise suitable caution when dealing with steam or boiling water. Clean any device as instructed. If infants or young children are present, consult their physician before use, as microbes and particalized mineral deposits can be harmful to their lungs, and additives can also be problematic.

Cold air is dry, and heating dries it further, but humidity's not just a winter issue. Air conditioning dries the air, too. You feel cooler, but your sinuses may become raw. At some point, you may need to turn off the A/C, or open a window, or add humidity, or step outdoors.

So, at any time of year, what amount of humidity is "just right" and how should you maintain it?

Humidity has benefits

You read VO scripts clearly. Why don't people hear you? Part 2 of 2.

NOTE: This is the second post in a two-part article. Click here to read Part 1!

In personal conversation, have you ever known someone who doesn't listen to you because they think they already know what you're going to say? Sometimes they've assumed correctly. But not always. And when they're wrong, it's kind of maddening, isn't it? Why don't they listen to what you're saying?

In that conversation, you might be able to bring your friend around to listening more politely. But in a spoken-voice recording, you can't do that with your unseen listener.

Or can you?

In some ways, you can encourage listeners to pay closer attention, to improve how they hear what you're saying.

The first step is to understand why they don't. There are various reasons:

A. They're distracted. This is virtually a given when the script is a commercial. In all but a handful of situations, people aren't listening for commercials, and in fact might be planning to do something else as soon as you start talking. (An exception would be a Super Bowl broadcast, where some people actually watch for the funny or edgy commercials. But how often is that?)

You'll encounter distracted listeners in plenty of other genres, too. For example, telephony ... scripts often say, "Please listen carefully, as our menu has recently changed." Everyone knows darn well that it probably hasn't, but a system has to do something to get the caller's attention. After all, they didn't phone for a menu – they called to tell a live representative that the flange on their widget broke, or to check the balance on their checking account, or to find out how to size new tennis shoes.

In voice acting, what does "enunciate" really mean? Part 1 of 2.

NOTE: This is the first post in a 2-part article. Click here to read Part 2!

You can't be a voice talent without having encountered the word "enunciate." Even if you've spoken very clearly all your life, and no coach or director has ever complained that you need to enunciate more, surely you've thought about it. Or read about it. Understanding how to enunciate is key to a voice-over career. After all, no matter if you master all other voice-over skills and do everything else right with your read, it's for nothing if your listener can't tell what you said.

But one of those other skills is "sound natural," and in most genres sounding natural is equally important. Can the two skills work together? What does "enunciate" really mean?

Maybe it will help if, instead of "enunciate," we say "speak clearly." Because that's what we mean. When a coach says "enunciate," they usually mean "enunciate more." The practice of enunciation is not absolute. There are differing degrees. Exactly how clear do you need to be? The art is in finding a happy medium – the range of intelligibility that is easily understood, yet fits the script's tone or character.

Too much enunciation can make you sound "stand-offish." You know the stereotype: it sounds like a character in a goofy 1930s comedy where some professor or upper-crusty type pro-noun-ces e-ver-y letttter and syl-ab-buhl separately. And maybe even rolls their R's.

Unless you're playing such a character, that's way too much.

But at the other extreme, you're not speaking clearly enough if people think you said "What's the Biggie's turtle you met?" when the script said "What's the biggest hurdle you've met?"

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