VO for Commercials

August 22, 2023 08:30 AM By Paul Boucher

I'm musing about three things about narration and voice acting this week, but they're in a particular order.

    First: Who are YOU? The DISTINCT you?

    Second: WHEN are you? Are you actually living in THIS moment? 

    Third: Are you working with qualified teachers or coaches to enrich what the distinct "you" can bring in this moment?


    Many moons ago, the most important business mentor of my career, Sandi Sloan, retired Toronto voice agent (and eventually my business manager for many years), introduced me to the most critical creative mentor of my career Marice Tobias.

    More than any others, and there have been many, those two formidable pros have guided me to continued success for multiple decades.


    **Bringing All of Yourself into the Performance**


    One of the great joys of voice acting is bringing all of yourself into the performance. 


    Marice helped to shape the notion in my head, intuitive for some, antithetical for others, that ME and MY distinct perspective and life experiences are the most important things that set my performances apart from every other voice in the great unwashed baritone "middle." She condensed this into the deceptively simple advice: "Play full-out!"


    As the "voice whisperer," she could hear me skating on the surface of emotion. She could tell when I was performing how I thought it should be rather than how the copy could be uniquely interpreted through the prism of my life. Playing full-out requires an openness and vulnerability that's sometimes acutely uncomfortable but essential in providing singular performances.


    By doing this, you infuse a distinct authenticity into your performance, which listeners (and casting directors!) can instantly recognize and appreciate.


    Another critical element she stressed in various ways was being "in the moment." This was crucial within performances, BUT it was also essential to be aware of the larger context that the performances live in.


    For commercials, an easy example of this consideration was anything voiced during the pandemic. People wanted reassuring, comforting voices in healthcare and quietly confident voices in other societally related news.


    The world around us needs to be reflected in our performances. To that end, are you constantly refreshing your perspective and approach, pulling your craft and instincts to work in the present moment? Or are you merely regurgitating something that worked before?


    Every other cycle in our lives has accelerated. It makes sense to return to the fount to refresh and renew our craft more often. 


    **The Importance of Varied Training**


    Seek out different coaches with proven track records in the industry. 


    Each coach can provide insights and techniques that resonate with your distinct identity, enriching your skill set. Diverse, ongoing training experiences help ensure your career longevity and relevance in the industry.


    As we head into the back-to-school, Hallowe'en, Thanksgiving, and Christmas ad seasons, refresh and renew your craft for auditions and gigs. Research what voices are on top in this moment and what those actors are bringing to the table in their performances.


    The art and craft of voiceover for commercials is a journey of self-discovery and continuous learning. Embrace your distinct identity; it's your greatest asset. Bring your authentic self into every performance. And never underestimate the value of training with different coaches who can help you expand your horizons and thrive within yourself in and in your career/business. With dedication and a commitment to growth, your voice can be a stand-out, enduring presence in the voiceover world for commercials.


    For a list of coaches I've used and some of the other musings they've inspired, contact me!