How To Do A Voice Over

How To Do A Voice Over

Voice check. Testing 1, 2

This is not about the sound-check at a rock gig. Far from it. This could be titled something like a brief guide on How To Do A Voice Over.

Think of it as a tabloid peep into the world behind the microphone.

For years a seemingly solitary world. Mysterious and secretive. Life behind a microphone was once spent in sound-proof rooms with doors half a metre thick.

A world with no windows. Where two layers of plate glass provided access to the only view out. A vista into an austere area innocuously called “the control room”.


Picture this

A recording studio near George Street Sydney. The heartland of the nation’s advertising business. The year is 1948.

Inside a booth the voice artist stands alone staring at the script. His eyes squint in the half-light provided by a wobbly music stand.

In the shadows the heavy bulk of an AKG D12 ‘mic’ hovers menacingly near the talent’s head.

Suddenly a loudspeaker crackles and someone asks “Are you ready John”?

After appropriate head nodding the studio monitor barks again “Rolling…Take one”.

In a flash the voice talent whips his right hand into a cup-shape over his right ear. With his arm pressed tightly into his side he reads the words aloud.

He adopts this strange stance for a reason. He’s deflecting his voice up to his cupped ear. He wants to hear how his voice sounds. Just as the microphone picks up the audio vibrations through the air, he too can isolate the acoustic sound of his voice away from the solid resonance produced by his jawbone.


Something is missing

If you identified the missing item as an ear piece or set of headphones you’re two decades ahead of the picture.

Since the 1960’s no self-respecting voice over would consider recording a session without headphones.

Some insist on having “one-on and one-off”. That means only wearing one earpiece. Inadvertently paying homage to the pioneers’ using their cupped hand over one ear.


Look like a seasoned V/O Artist

If you are still learning How To Do A Voice Over don’t let everybody know. Remember you are an actor! Play the part and read the words as a voice over.

As you step up to the microphone, even if you’re wearing headphones, cup your hand over one ear. Immediately people will assume you’ve been doing this for decades! Then just read the script


Learn to listen

The real trick to being a good voice over is knowing how to listen. When the director or producer says read it with a happy voice, smile. If they say faster, speed up. Sadder, purse your lips. Just listen, then read it again.

Did I say do it again? Well there it is. The secret to the mysterious world of How To Do A Voice Over.

Tune in for a listen to some of the most experienced male and female voice talent at

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