This is my latest sample…a short montage of impressions featuring, in order of appearance: Catherine Tate’s ‘Nan’ Joany Taylor, and Lady Penelope. Warning: this audio clip contains swearing and is not for the faint-hearted. If you’re easily offended please move on to the next post! Can I just say that these impressions bear absolutely no resemblance to me in character and language whatsoever… 😳
Monthly Archive for: ‘January, 2010’
One of my pet hates is native English accented singers singing with American accents . In my opinion it’s fake. Why can’t they be original, be themselves?! Even Leona Lewis , who is an amazing singer, finds it necessary to do so. One might argue that, now she’s an international artist, she needs to be accessible to the massive American market which she has conquered, but the fact is that she was singing in an American accent during the competition!
When I’m singing with my jazz and swing band, I make a point of not singing with an American accent. The only exceptions are where the rhyming of the words are based on the American pronunciation/inflection. For example, in Moondance, by Van Morrison :
‘Can I just have one more moondance with …my love’
‘Can I just make some more romance with you…my love’
If you were to say ‘moondarnss‘ and ‘romarnss‘ with an English accent, you’d sound like a prize pillock!
Of course, most of the jazz standards and swing standards were written by American writers, just look at the Great American Songbook for example, or one of the real Jazz standards music books, but in most cases you don’t need to use a fake American drawl. The other challenge is when American colloquialisms are used, such as in Mack The Knife ‘On the sidewalk, on a Sunday morning don’t you know..’. Clearly, this would sound a bit strange if you sang it in the style of Mary Poppins !
The style of the genre does lend itself to a more relaxed and laid back style of presentation and, if you can get that relaxed, laid-back sound, losing the fake twang, and without sounding like Mary Poppins, you’ve achieved the style and won’t sound ridiculous!
The power of the voice over written communication, and the benefits of the audio book.
The top 5 benefits of audio books:
- If you are an Auditory type. If you are the kind of person who isn’t into reading, but prefers to listen, then perhaps you are auditory, and would gain more benefit by listening to an audio book.
- Enhances your car journey. Audio book CD ‘s can enhance you and your family’s journey time whilst driving in the car, either to relieve boredom, or to take your mind off stressful situations such as being stuck on a motorway somewhere! You can also listen with your iPod as you go jogging as part of your New Year’s resolution and kill two birds with one stone!
- Saves time on personal development activities. Most of us never have enough time to do all the things we want to do. Audio book CDs or .mp3’s are a brilliant time-saving method of listening and learning to personal development audios whilst you’re doing something at home, or whilst driving – providing that you’re not spending too much time fiddling with the knobs on your player and causing a prang in front and behind you!
- Ability to make characters come to life. Whilst reading your imagination can be great, but if you have a novel or story book audio CD , actually hearing the voices of the different characters and sound effects can make the story come alive even more.
- Beneficial impact of tone of voice on learning and communication as opposed to reading words. It is generally known that impact of communication is greater from the sound and tone of the spoken voice – 38% , compared to only 7% by the words used.
Here are some examples of what is possible in an audio book, taken from my latest showreel:
If this has given you a warm, fuzzy feeling and you would like to explore more audio books, then you might find some useful items in my shop .
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This article is designed for business owners who are looking to use online or corporate video as part of their online marketing campaign or any corporate video strategy, but is also a useful tool for anyone who wishes to improve their voice and the way they sound!
So, you’ve decided that you want to use that great tool that is now the online video for your company, corporate or business website, as you’ve realised that it has great marketing and relationship-building potential, and you’ve also found out that Google loves online video in helping to boost your rankings. Then you need to decide whether you want to have your company expert or MD/CEO to narrate it, or to use a professional voice-over . Let’s say you’re going to use someone from your company to narrate it. Here’s a few tips that may just help!:
1. To start with the basics of course, you need a great, relevant company or corporate video
55% of how we learn is by seeing – the visual aspects of the video, of course. I know of several video production companies who could help you if you get stuck, just use my contact form…
2. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!
It is generally known that impact of communication is greater from the sound and tone of your voice– 38% , compared to only 7% by the words used. You can spend ages writing a great script, using your best corporate lines, but if the vocal quality and tone of your voice are terrible, the piece is doomed, as people will switch off and, more importantly, they won’t be impressed by your company! Read on to find out how you can turn this around…
3. If you think that you’re stuck with the way you speak, you’re wrong!
Most people do not know how to utilise their voices to their fullest extent and think that they are stuck with what they have; when in fact, with a little help, the majority can improve considerably. The tools are there, you just need to bring them out and dust them off, as some of them may never have been used before! In the same way (I’m also a singer), so many people tell me that they can’t sing. However, whilst this is true for a minority, the rest have just been conditioned to believe that they can’t, which can be attributed to background, upbringing, and geographical origin, as well as confidence. These were my findings when I wrote my final degree dissertation on the voice years ago. I need to go find it and when I do I will add more reference points to this article…it must have been OK, as I graduated with my 2:1 honours degree!
4. ‘Centre’ your voice
What I come across most of all is where people speak from their throat rather than their diaphragm. This tends to result in a rather thin sound, which is unstable as it’s not supported from what I call the ‘centre’, ‘root’ or diaphragm. This, in turn, can make people sound as if they lack confidence, or straining their voices. So, how do you obtain that ‘centred’ sound?
So, we’re going to learn to centre your voice. Remember, this sound should come from the very deepest part of you, and you can get to it by utilising your diaphragm.
Stand up straight, feet slightly apart, hands by your sides.
Make sure your feet are firmly on the ground.
Take a deep breath in and use an exclamation that you tend to use when you’re angry – it’s usually something like ‘Huh!’. Using anger is brilliant, as it is a base emotion and instinctively we are better able to produce a more gutteral sound. Notice that, when you do this correctly, you can feel your diaphragm working, and that ‘Huh!’ resonating through your body right from your feet upwards. If you’re feeling that resonance, you’ve got it – well done! This effect is what we call using a ‘centred’ voice. Your vocal tone will sound more definite, meaningful, confident and you should find that people are more likely to take you seriously when you’re speaking. Again, it’s not the content of what you are saying, it’s how you sound which will determine the message you are trying to convey.
Most of us wince at hearing the sound of our own voice, but you need to do this if you want to improve. Or better still, record it and ask a good colleauge or friend for some constructive feedback using the suggestions that follow. Try recording a piece of text and play it back. At this stage, I would suggest that you keep it to an audio recording and not a video, as you will end up also picking up visual signals which will detract from what you are trying to do. Listen to your own voice carefully when you play the audio recording back and make notes. We often think that we sound better than we do in reality. Does it have any or all of the following qualities? If it does, you don’t need these tips at all!:
6. Modulate your tone of voice
Does your voice modulate nicely? Or does it sound more monotone /monotonous? – in other words, the same tone all the way through, which you dont want! Sometimes, partcicularly when we are nervous and presenting something, our voices can tend to become even more monotone than usual, so it’s even more important to think about varying the tone of your voice. If you’ve started to use your diaphragm and are centering your voice, in other words, you’ve now got more control over it, it should make it easier to moderate your tone of voice.
7. Make your voice sound more authoritative
It may well be that you already have a great authoritative speaking voice and, if so, skip this one! If not, try listening to people that you admire for being able to get their messages across well and who exude confidence. If you think that you fall into a type of voice that currently lacks authority, I would suggest that you try to deepen it. Does your voice have enough depth to it? Is it deep enough? We tend to take notice of people more when they use a deeper, more resonant voice than those who have a lighter, quieter, or whiney type of voice. Those with those deeper, more resonant vocal tones are those that you are more likely to listen to and believe. This is because they have learnt to centre their voice. They may have been lucky and been born with it, but more likely it stems from confidence, background, geographical location and/or upbringing.
This one could also be part of 7. Authoritative, as those speakers we tend to listen to and take notice of as being authoritative, usually pace their phrasing really well, and speak slightly more slowly than others. The same is also true of those who physically take the space they are occupying, and their bodies move in a more measured, slow, regal, style. You don’t see the Queen of England scurrying about her duties do you?! Actually, her voice pitch is slightly higher, but because both her speaking and bodily movements and posture are slow and measured, she gets away with it – plus her status speaks for itself!
If you’re preparing to voice your video but have in the past had concerns about being taken seriously when you present yourself, try to implement the above suggestions. I know that, if you’re not used to producing a richer, deeper sound, you’ll probably feel a bit silly at first. The other thing is, if you are in this category, you may be thinking ‘I’m not sure that going through all this effort is really going to make a difference’, then try this experiment – it works every time. Call someone who doesn’t know you and make a request for something, or to persuade them to take a particular action. I don’t mean make a weird phone call to a stranger, but it could be your utility supplier to check on a bill payment that you have in your in-tray, or any other company for example that you may have a query with but haven’t yet called. When you get on the phone, speak using your deeper, richer, centred voice at all times. If you do this correctly, and listen to the response of the person at the other end of the phone, I think that you will find you will a) get your message across better and b) you will get better results from your request or query – and faster. Don’t forget to modulate the tone of your voice to keep it friendly, warm and polite, as you’re even less likely to achieve your aim! Notice how both a) and b) are exactly what you want to achieve in your online video?
Alternatively, you could use a specialist voice-over artist for your online video, instead of doing it yourself. The sample audio track below contains clips from recent corporate voice over work:
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