Corporate Narration is tricky, kinda like walking a tightrope. One of the dilemmas voice actors face when reading a corporate script is figuring out how much emotion to inject into a performance. Too much emotion comes off as emoting, fake, and insincere. But too little emotion is dry, boring, and robotic. What’s an actor to do? How do you find the VO Corporate Goldilocks zone? Let’s take a look at some techniques and best practices you can use to help ensure you find the right balance.
Getting the right VO feedback
Always start your voiceover journey with a basic script analysis. (See the previous blog for a refresher). Most of the time with corporate narration gigs, voice actors are recording in a vacuum. We have little to no real-time feedback because unlike commercial sessions or animation, corporate narration is mostly self-directed. This can make it hard to know if you are hitting the right notes in your read. Getting quality feedback, especially early in your VO career, is critical. You can set this up in a number of different ways. Of course, finding a quality coach who specializes in corporate narration will be able to guide you most efficiently and effectively in this regard. But your peers can also help. There are many peer group meetups that can give you feedback on a regular basis. Be proactive and start early. Find a group and regularly practice corporate narration scripts so that when you do book that corporate job you’re ready.
A different kind of EQ
Chances are sometime in your life you were given an IQ test. Your “intelligence quotient” measures your ability to remember facts, find solutions, and think analytically. We generally correlate our IQ with how smart we are. We understand IQ, but what about EQ? “EQ” is a term that has been floating around the corporate world lately and it has nothing to do with bass and treble. EQ stands for emotional quotient. It directly relates to perceived emotional intelligence. To what degree are you able to see other points of view, find common ground, and feel empathetic - especially to the "client" you are supposed to be speaking to in the script? EQ applies directly to corporate narration scripts. How high is your VO EQ? How do you know? This is where you have to turn on your ears and listen to your read from the customer’s perspective. You can only find the right balance by putting yourself in your client’s shoes.
Beyond the brand
Often, corporate branding can overshadow the fact that corporations are made up of people. And they also SELL to people. Individuals that make choices, learn from experiences, make mistakes and come to the table with preconceived ideas. When approaching your VO for a corporate narration script remember that you aren’t talking to the brand, you’re talking to real humans. And humans can be complicated. But try to see things from their perspective and tap into the idea of empathy when you are voicing the script on behalf of the company. More than likely your role will be a representative of the company speaking to your listener. Answer questions like, “What are my listener's joys and frustrations? How is this information going to help the listener?” (And remember - it's ALWAYS about the listener!) This is where you’ll find the ability to connect yourself to the content in a way that will help you fine-tune the right amount of emotion in your read.
Just the facts ma’am
When presented with a bullet point list of information in a script you have license to turn down the emotional dial. Because more often than not, you won’t be emotional about numbers, statistics, formulas, etc… Unless, (there’s always an exception), the facts in question are part of the story that is being told. For example, if the script read, “The new widget has a tolerance of 2.3 microbits in the standard setting and 2.1 microbits in the high definition setting”, you would read that fairly straight. But, if the story is “After years of research and development, the all-new widget has been fine-tuned with an industry-leading high definition setting that allows an astounding 2.1 microbits”, well then the statistic is the story and you would read it as a story element. Allowing a fluctuation in emotion allows for more believability, and helps to bring your listener along on the journey without overwhelming them with too much emotion at every word.
Why you should care
“So what?” you say. So everyone has a story, big deal. It still doesn’t help me know when to punch a word or change my inflection. Walking a mile in your client's shoes will take you beyond trying to sound empathetic - to actually being empathetic. Just like when you can tell the difference between when someone is smiling because they were told to as opposed to when they are really happy. When you are relying exclusively on technique to try and sell your emotion in the script, it will always come off dishonest and sounding fake. You have to care about your listener and understand their needs to really connect not to the script, but the story of the why behind the script. That’s when you’ll know that you’ve found the right balance of emotion.
Much love and Keep on rockin' your biz.
About the Author: Anne Ganguzza is a full-time voice talent and award-winning director and producer who works with students to develop their voice over and business skills - including VO demo training and production. She specializes in Conversational Commercial and Narration styles, including Corporate, E-Learning, Technology, Healthcare - Medical, Telephony, and On-Hold. Located in Orange County, CA, Anne offers private coaching and mentoring services to students in person and via Skype, ipDTL or Zoom.