Voice Over Education Blog

Welcome to the Voice Over Blog

Welcome to the blog designed for anyone investigating, starting, and building their voice over career.

Here you'll find practical articles written to help you skip the "trial and error" often associated with pursuing and building a career, and instead gain a candid look into the voice over industry, where the work is, why some people get it, why some don't, and tips and techniques to help you reach your goals.

Remember that your voice, interests, and potential are unique. For this reason, our articles provide multiple ideas and scenarios so that you can make the right decision for your career.

Feel welcome to share any experiences and comments by posting them below each post. We're always glad to listen to you. After all, listening is what we do best!

What goes into a cover letter? A letter. Not a form.

In a previous article on EdgeStudio.com, we advised “15 things n-o-t to say in your voice over cover letter." The list is based on actual letters received from, mostly, voice actor hopefuls. Thing is, you can't write a thoughtful letter just by avoiding gaffes. What should your cover email include, and how should you say it? Here are some suggestions.

Note that in offering these suggestions, we'll also suggest some further things to avoid. Not that they're so wrong as most of the things in our first list. In many cases, they're practices that add to the length of your letter without adding to its substance. Or, as your high school English teacher would have said, they're just "wordy."

Also note that we're talking here about a "cold call" letter, one to someone you haven't already met. In cases where you've already started a conversation, you should be able to continue that conversation where you left off. But many of these rhetorical principles will still apply.

Get to the point!

Specifically, tell your reader the upshot of what you've learned about them, not how you learned it. Tell them how you can help them, not just what you do.

Consider, for example, the statement, "I see from your website that you produce explainer videos." A statement such as this is even found in some templates that otherwise might be good examples.

What's wrong with it?

Your reader knows what's on their website. They know what they do. And (just between us) it's no longer very impressive that you thought to visit them online.

Instead, get to your benefit. What did you learn about them that you are especially qualified to handle, or even fix?

Instead of saying:

Does a voice actor need insurance? Yes, and no. And Yes.

You're trained, your voice-over career is off to a great start, and things are going well. There's nobody else quite like you. You've landed a healthy supply of steady voice-over clients, or are clearly starting to. What could possibly go wrong?

Indeed. One never knows about the future. That's why there is insurance. Are you (as they say in the insurance game) hazardously "exposed"? Whether your voice-over business is long-established or just getting started, it is, in fact, a business. And any business worthy of the term "professional" should be protected by appropriate coverage.

But for a freelancer, and voice actors in particular, exactly what does that mean?

PLEASE NOTE: We are not tax or insurance experts. Our intent here is only to raise your awareness. Before making any major decision in these areas, please fully inform yourself or consult a qualified professional.

There are various types of insurance to consider. Some, you might consider a necessity. Others, maybe a luxury. But you should consider them. Because insurance is a luxury only when you will never need it.

Health insurance.

We know what this is. If you get seriously ill, the insurance pays all or part of your healthcare expenses. And, in protection of the insurance company's own interest, they will probably pay for some preventative care and checkups.

Since your business IS you, it's natural to think of health insurance as a necessary business expense. But for you as a solo worker, it's actually a personal deduction, a special one for self-employed people. That affects how you may deduct it, and what other taxes it may or may not affect. For example, the deduction applies to your various income taxes, but not to your self-employment tax. There are also considerations as to how much you may deduct, and what business income it may be deducted from.

For voice-over success, know – and trust – yourself.

The Greeks said, "Know thyself." Sometimes they meant it in a way that we modern folk might not realize – namely, to know your place in the scheme of things. But most people today probably understand the advice in a more positive sense ... to know your own nature and why you act and think as you do. That seems a sensible idea, especially for the actor. In fact, Plato (it says here in our Classics crib sheet) professed that by knowing one's own human nature, a person is better able to know the nature of other humans.

With regard to voice-over, we would add a further angle. At some point, it is also important to "Trust thyself." To illustrate that point, here is a brief fable, ripped from the pages of a personal history:

Once upon a time, a college student got to DJ for a couple hours each week on the campus radio station. Throughout each week, he put a lot of effort into the show, planning jokes and patter, and intros, all kinds of material to cram into that scanty timeslot. He didn't know it at the time, but it was hardly worth so much effort. He had no experience at working a live audience, everything sounded much, much too "rehearsed," and he was like the cocktail party guest who's so full of small talk that you wish he'd pause to let you settle your nerves, let alone get a word in edgewise.

He wasn't even funny. To illustrate, do you know that scene in Good Morning, Vietnam where Robin Williams (as Adrian Cronauer) follows a really straight-laced Armed Forces Radio announcer guy who says stilted things like, "Greetings and felicitations"? Our hero sounded like that announcer guy.

Then, one day, our hero happened to walk into the station to do some record filing or whatever, and the Program Director said, "Our 4 o'clock DJ is sick. You're the only DJ here. You're on the air in 5 minutes."

"But I have nothing prepared," our hero stammered, ready to steadfastly refuse.

What's the right way to deliver a humorous VO line? Part 3 of 3

NOTE: This is the third post in a 3-part article. Click to read Part 1 and Part 2.

There's a wrong way to tell a joke. But there's often more than one right way. Part of what makes the "right" way work is that it coincides with the character of the person telling it. (Or rather, the persona of the character. And by "joke," we mean any humorous line.) Is the person high-energy, or low-key? Are they cynical, or silly? Are they known to be serious, but with a comic payoff?

Your character affects your listener's expectations, patience, and viewpoint as they listen. It also affects the way you time the joke – and thus the laugh.

As we mused at the end of Part Two, can you learn comedy timing without having entertained friends or coworkers all your life? Yes, maybe you can. But timing is not as simple as some people think. Here are some tips.

(Reminder: The term "comedy timing" doesn't refer to how long it takes to tell a joke. In its simplest sense, it refers to knowing just the right moment to deliver the punch line. In the real world of humorous discourse, it's more complex than that. But it's still not about how long it takes to read the script.)

There are two basic components of delivering a joke: timing and pacing.

Timing. Maybe it should be called comedy pausing.

Timing involves knowing where to pause, how long to pause, and why.

In the context of comedy or dramatic direction, you'll often hear the word, "beat." For example, "Between these two words, wait a beat."

Comedy Timing. How does it work in voice-over? Part 2 of 3

NOTE: This is the second post in a 3-part article. Click to read Part 1 and Part 3.

A stage actor or stand-up comedian has something of an advantage over those of us who work alone in a booth. Audience feedback. One of the things you get from an audience, along with a certain energy and maybe (for better or worse) a sense of "danger," is that you know if a joke worked or not. And you can experiment with varying your delivery in order to make a funny line work its best.

Even a movie actor has a crew around them, and a director to help them along. If you're self-directing and don't have years of experience at delivering funny lines, how do you know when you've achieved what writer Larry Gelbart has called, "a nerve well struck"?

One way is to be observant and develop your sense of comedy timing.

What "comedy timing" is not

First we should clarify – in voice-over work, there are three very different types of "timing." Professionals know one from the other, but all involve the same word.

  • In one sense, "timing" refers to how long the read is. Is it 10 seconds or 30? Can the 30-second script be read in 27 seconds? For more on that, see our article, "15, 30, 60,... The Art of Voice-Over Timing." It's not what we're discussing here.
  • In another sense, "timing" in voice-over means the same thing as in everyday life – namely, being in the right place at the right time. If you land a voice-over job for that reason, that's good timing. If the script is funny, you might even quip that it is good comedy timing. But it's not what we're discussing here.

What comedy timing IS

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