Well, as any beginning student of voiceover will soon start to understand, the conversational approach to copy, as opposed to the announcer type read, is the Holy Grail of modern commercial voice over. There are other types of voiceovers out there that are a little different, like some movie promos, monster truck rallies, telephone answering systems, etc. but for the commercial market it all needs to be a conversation you are having with someone.
Sometimes you might be an enthusiastic spouse speaking with your other half, sometimes you might be an authoritative expert speaking with an avid learner, sometimes you might be the student speaking with an instructor. Whatever the case (and there are more possibilities than you can list) the most important aspect of the whole exercise is that you are speaking in an immediate, conversational, un-affected, style. Oh, and also you should have had just a little too much caffeine. The range of emotion in your read should be just a little more than you usually think of as normal, unless normal to you means standing outside the local Starbucks and telling everybody about the black helicopters and that nifty tinfoil hat you’re wearing.
The trick is, they tell me, that you have to dig through your list of friends, acquaintances, enemies, whatever, and tell this little story directly to them. You aren’t addressing a crowd, you aren’t addressing some nameless, faceless stereotype, you are literally standing right in front of and speaking directly to this ONE PERSON!
Now I have done this in the privacy of my own home, and I can tell you that it works spectacularly well! And it is EASY! Try this – pick up a new piece of copy and study it for a minute or so and then lay down a recording of how you think it should be interpreted. Do this WITHOUT thinking about anybody in particular.
Now read the copy again, this time pretending that you are saying this directly to your best friend. Close your eyes, see your friend, tell them exactly the way you would if you were just shooting the shit and nobody was recording you and you had never heard of such a crazy thing as voice overs.
Check out the difference between the two recordings.
For me at least, the reads are COMPLETELY different.
Oh, and now for the small print… remember how I said this was easy? Well, down in the bedroom closet with Socks the Cranky Cat as your only witness, it is really easy. Problem is, you gotta do this in front of three different strangers standing on your toes in the 2’ by 2’ soundbooth with no air conditioning, bad breath floating like a green cloud in the air, and an engineer outside yelling at you to get back on mic.
Practice, Practice, Practice.