Did that headline grab your attention? Good. But please get your mind out of the gutter. What I’m referring to of course, is your voice and I’m suggesting that you use it in new ways. Let me explain…
Last night I had the pleasure of emceeing our Cub Scout Pack’s Pinewood Derby. For those of you who don’t know… the Pinewood Derby is where Cub Scouts race wooden cars that they’ve built down a long sloped track. The Pinewood Derby is one of the biggest events in cub scouting each year and it is taken very seriously (especially by the Dads). Each car is weighed-in and raced down every available lane in a series of heats to ensure fairness. The results of each heat are captured electronically with a motion detector at the finish line. By the end of the night, winners are announced for each rank as well as the overall pack winner. Most importantly, everyone gets really excited during the event and has fun.
So, how does this relate to voiceover? Simple really. As I mentioned, I emceed the event. I was not expecting to be in this role, so it was a bit of a surprise (like getting a script just as a session is supposed to begin). The Cubmaster had planned on doing it but was not feeling well, so he asked if I would.
This scenario is quite a bit different from being in a quiet room where nobody even sees me when I’m working (engineering or voicing). It got me behind the microphone in front of a large, noisy and yet still somewhat intimate crowd. Having been a live sound engineer and in radio for a number of years, my only stage experience consists of announcing bands to completely impersonal crowds of thousands or to saying “one, two, one, two” to test clomid microphones. So… this was a very different experience for me.
I had no idea what I was going to say to keep the crowd entertained throughout the night (ugh, where’s my script?) but began by welcoming the crowd, announcing the event and just taking it from there. As the night went along, it got easier and more fun. I took on the role of an announcer, just as I would if I were in the booth reading a script. By the end of the night, several people had come up to me to say that I “missed my calling” (which I thought was kind of funny). It was fun to use my voice in a completely different way and in a completely different setting.
Versatility is a key component to success in voiceover. The more styles and deliveries you are able to successfully provide will open doors to greater and more varied opportunities. Putting yourself in different situations, such as going to another studio or on stage will give you more confidence and invaluable experience. If your current specialty is to be an announcer, practice reading as a story-teller or develop a character.
So, get out there! Try new things and use your voice (your tool) in the same way a scout uses a pocket knife… as a multi-tool.