I recently had the pleasure of doing voice over work for a Kleenex commercial that touches on all the emotions that people are experiencing during these challenging times.

While the commercial doesn’t specifically mention COVID-19, it paints a clear picture of #AllTheFeelings that we’re collectively experiencing in this unprecedented moment: uncertainty, grief, sadness, but also happiness to help others, gratitude for good heath, strength and hope for better times ahead.

This commercial is a great example of why it’s so important to choose the right voice actor – and the right voice – to make the message as powerful as it can be.

So, I want to talk about what makes this voice over so effective and how the same techniques can be applied to other ads and messages.

Some background

The Kleenex commercial was cast and produced using traditional voiceover methods and structures. This includes the use of an agent vs. an online casting site.

There are many ways to do a voice over. Understanding how to do a voice over, according to the specific needs of the project, is what separates a professional voice-over actor from the less experienced. It requires an in-depth analysis of the client’s needs, a voice actor’s studio setup, the tone of the voice-over copy and the overall object / call to action.

The Kleenex commercial required a voice actor to have a soft and caring voice. As an urban voice over talent that has a similar sound and personality as that of a black  voice actor with a deep voice / vocal range, I knew exactly how to approach it.

From the heart

There are a number of factors that make this Kleenex commercial successful. The visuals, music and copy all play a role in capturing the emotions expressed by the ad, and in expressing empathy (i.e. showing that Kleenex cares and understands what you’re going through).

But without the right voice, the entire message could be spoiled. For example, if the voice sounded too gimmicky, cheesy or harsh, it would change the entire tone of the commercial.

To be effective, the voice needed to be soft, caring, empathetic and relatable. It needed to be genuine and from the heart.

A voice of reason and wisdom

What is voice over depth, and how does it affect the message being expressed here?

You may assume that a deep voice doesn’t gel with a soft and caring message – but actually the opposite is true.

Having a deep voice doesn’t mean it needs to sound extremely authoritative. Sometimes, a deep voice is essential for expressing warmth and comfort coming from a place of experience. The human experience.

When you listen to my voice over in the Kleenex commercial, you can hear how that deep tone is more advantageous as it helps to comfort the viewer, while also sounding like it could be someone you know: a friend, a father, a voice of reason, a loved one who’s by your side to get you through these difficult times.

PRO TIP: When doing kind and soft voice overs, one should try to always come from an empathetic place. In addition to the voice, the use of an undertone of soft music during the voice over session can be extremely beneficial in bringing out the warmth in tone.

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There are numerous genres of voiceover. A voice actor can get into animation, commercials, radio or even promo for example. Affiliate voiceover and promotional voice overs, more commonly referred to as “TV Promos”, are a consistently evolving class of voiceovers. Having done a few, but not many, promo demos and commercials for various radio affiliates and TV networks, I can tell you that the emergence of streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon prime have challenged the industry to rapidly adapt to new ways of promoting content to their audience.

 

Promo voiceover is very fun to do. Promotional voiceover allows a voice actor to play around with different personalities and traits that often are hidden in a typical commercial voice over spot. For example, in promo voiceover an actor must maintain a consistent energy, cadence and inflection that is unfamiliar to them.  My career is heavily based on commercial and industrial voiceovers. However, I wanted to challenge myself by entering a genre that would be different than what I’m used to. Television voiceover and network promos are much more high-energy than my typical personality, so I use this opportunity to expand my range as a voice talent.

 

When making my promo voiceover demo I wanted to showcase the different personalities and shades of an authentic “Kabir”.  Everything from the Spirit of wry and comedic to hopeful and very dark. The various emotions that network television shows cast nowadays allows one to explore the depths of the human personality. In my affiliate voiceover demo you will hear my authentic sound which is usually cast as “Urban and African-American”. But, you will also hear shades and variations of that “urban voice” sound.

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I can confidently and humbly say that promo voiceover is challenging for me. It’s something that I work on and try to get better at. There are many great coaches out there that can teach you the techniques for basic promotional voiceover. But, I’m quickly learning that practice in the booth in conjunction with referencing great promo actors voice over demos is extremely beneficial.  The landscape of television voiceover is much different today than it was 15 years ago. The ability for multicultural talent such as myself to get into promo and find our own unique space within it is a true blessing.

 

As you travel the journey of learning and becoming better in your specific genres of voiceover- be open to new methods that might be different than what you expected. I certainly had to open my mind to a vast array of techniques that I was not used to.

 

Pro Tip:  If you type “emotional color wheel” into Google you will find a great resource that can help you explore various depths of emotions within oneself. I often find myself and for my microphone referencing this color wheel of emotions in order to warm up before the session.

 

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When voicing a commercial for a healthcare facility- voice talent are usually required to have a respectively “mature” sounding voice. Often times the script copy can be health sensitive and requires a compassionate and empathetic tone in nature. I tend to gravitate towards advertising copy that is sensitive and emotional. As a professional healthcare voice over artist one must be able to go to these depths of sensitivity and emotion quickly and effortlessly. A healthcare voiceover artist must also have a plethora of side skills to pull from. For example, annunciation is very important. One must also be able to pronounce difficult words frequently.

For this voiceover session with Regence Health- the client loved my original audition so much they directed my very little during the actual session. As a male healthcare voiceover actor – casting directors, can at times, be doubtful of our ability to access our emotions effectively/efficiently. However, the script was powerful which allowed me to travel that journey of emotion quite easily.

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When trying to access your emotions and sensitivity on a microphone, I have noticed that my inner thoughts can be my ally. My inner thoughts can guide me through these emotions easily if I am familiar with them. Once a voice actor gets intimate with their own inner emotions – they’re able to use them at will.

Being a professional voice actor, more specifically, a healthcare voice talent, develops over time and the maturity of oneself. As one becomes more experienced with the success and failures in life, one is able to transition those experiences and skills to the microphone. I was fortunate enough to be a voiceover talent on a few of Regence’s campaigns and each time was a pleasure as it allowed me to relate to the humanity of our daily lives.

Pro Tip: As a professional voiceover artist allow yourself to explore the depths of your emotions and get to know who you are- your light and your darkness. These emotions can be used when accessing simple or complex voiceover scripts.

 

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I haven’t voiced a lot of beer voiceover commercials in my career. However, I’ve always been allured by their high energy voice acting performances. Beer commercials and the beer advertising campaigns that follow- usually target young millennials nowadays. When working on this voiceover project for Sam Adams, the director did a great job of letting me know that high energy music along with a young cool and energetic voiceover was the main focus of the commercial.
Sam Adams voiceover projects and commercials have had a history of being fun and visually appealing. Some people naturally have an energetic way of communicating their emotions and feelings. I however, tend to have a very subdued and calm way of doing it. Neither is right or wrong– there just different. When a voice actor approaches a copy in a way that is much different than their normalcy allows, is a great opportunity to flex one’s range of skills. For those that know me, know that I’m softer spoken most of the time, but on the right subjects, I can be very energetic and vocal.
 
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When a more subdued voice talent needs to transition into a high-energy voice artist, I find that body movement, along with very specific feelings that promote energetic feelings within myself, allow me to get into character when approaching the script.
When approaching high-energy voiceover sessions, I use a method of “repeating” to build up the constant flow of vocal performance energy. I will repeat the first few words or perhaps even the sentence a few times while simultaneously increasing the energy at which it is spoken. This allows the voice talent to find the energy level that’s right for them.
Professional high-energy voiceover talent know that energy matters and takes priority over other dimensions of communication. Pace is dictated by one’s energy. Inflections are secondary to one’s energy. When a voiceover script is specifically created to be high energetic then it is the job of the voice talent to play in the range of high-energy and extremely over-the-top high-energy. Exploring along the way with the director. The end result is something similar to the spot above.
Pro Tip: Focus on the energy and explore its range when given the opportunity to do so. It’s a great practice.

 

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Discover Kabir Singh: Christian church worship style voice over talent video demo reel and actor for hire.
 
When I was younger I always wanted a brother or mentor to look up to. Being raised in a house full of all women, (mom and sisters & no father, I often searched for the masculine energy. In my low-income community there were many churches that offered big brother type youth programs. Although I never attended one- I wish I had.

Christian voiceover projects are some of my favorites to voice. I love doing church voiceover projects. They often have messages of uplifting the community, nonprofit material and goodwill. Worship voiceover casting directors usually seek out an empathic and compassionate voice. In my church voice over demo real I have many examples of the different ranges and tones a church voiceover project can explore.

 

 

Christian voice over projects often cast for young youth leaders. As a church voiceover talent- I love this role. It allows me to express my mature and emotional side. It also allows me to deliver a message of positivity as a leader in the community. When approaching worship voiceover projects, I often utilize my heart more than my mind. Love. Love tends to be the driving force behind my cadence, energy and tone. I approach each church message with the purest of love along with a gentle smile– then I begin reading the script.

I really enjoyed working on this worship voiceover project because it reminded me of my youth. It reminded me of the importance of having a mentor in one’s own community. As a professional voice actor it is a privilege to be a part of positive messages that affect the community directly and when I have an opportunity to do so I don’t take it for granted.

Pro Tip: Church voiceover projects can be a great source of frequent work. Build relationships with the community and the church members. Offer your services to their media department if they have one. There are hundreds of thousands of churches and most of them need a voice to match their branding.

 

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Football voice over, particularly the NFL, is one of favorite genres of voice over projects to work on. Pro football voice over requires a certain level of gravitas and swagger. The NFL voice over requires a sound that resonates with the hard working and gritty audience it attracts. Authenticity triumphs all in this case. NFL voiceovers fuel off of attitude. It is the voice actors job to display the right attitude given a combination of: music, creative direction, visual reference and story.

I’ve had the pleasure of working on the Kansas City Chiefs voice over projects for a few years now. Each spot they create has a great story behind it. Each spot has a certain tone and cadence. The NFL voice over requires fierce pace and cadence. During the session, my approach was to connect deeply with the story. The story of the history behind the city itself. To listen for the cadence in the roars at the stadium and to feel it.

At times, football voice over projects challenge the voice actor to find a balance between being a die hard fan and an authentic sounding motivational “guru”. Really, it’s delivering with a strong sense of humility and pride. Kansas City Chiefs were very big on their connection with pride. True pride, in a quality voice over, can make even the disbeliever- believe and that’s the power of a good football voice over sound.

 

Kabir Singh: Kansas City Chiefs NFL pro football sports voice over actor and talent for hire

 

As I continue to work on my particular NFL voice over sound, I often reflect on the years it took delivering my specific cadence, tone and maturity. The practice comes in handy, if you’re ever up to it, practice reading an NFL voice over script in 3 different emotions: intimate, hard sell and real. Each one will give you a different sense of pride and spirit. It’s often called upon us as sports voiceover actors to be able to deliver these 3 particular style of reads. My personal favorite is the intimate voice over read. Intimate reads have a powerful way of delivering the right feel for a motivational football voice over commercial. The rawness, the subtly and softness all seem to blend well.

The Kansas City Chiefs voice over projects continue to help me grow as a voice actor. I am able to practice various emotions and deliveries as the team progresses and finds it truest believers. It’s a true pleasure working on these spots. They usually allow me to express my poetic side with enough gravitas to keep a healthy balance of humility and pride. Don’t be afraid to explore your own humility and pride during your next nfl voiceover read.

Get raw. Get connected. Get heard.

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The online marketplace for voice overs is constantly evolving. Every year new sites replace old sites promising a vast area of casting, auditions and talent. On the journey of voice acting online, talent will come across 3 main voice acting casting sites: voices.com, voice123 and voiceovers.com. I had my share of experience on all of these sites. Voices.com used to be a place where all up-and-coming voice actors started a career. Throughout the years the company, voices.com, has been plagued with negative reviews. Reviews that can be found simply by doing a Google search. But the truth is, voices.com wasn’t always a place that was looked down upon by the voiceover industry. The Voices.com website in fact, partnered with many Industry leaders including agents and casting directors in the early years. The Spring Moves commercial voiceover campaign was auditioned on voices.com and then flipped to an agent locally.

Commercial voice over campaigns all require a certain tone & energy in their delivery. It is the job of a professional voice over to harness and provide variations of this energy and tone. The producers at Spring Moves wanted a really urban sound. They wanted a young energetic athlete that was bold and courageous, to deliver their final copy. At first the producers expressed their hesitation with casting voice acting online, since it was the early days of the technology, however when they heard my audition they stopped their search for male voice actors. Music commercial voiceover is a popular demand in the new age of the internet. With devices and streaming services that constantly try to gain the attention of its consumers, much of the content being produced- combines masterful music with masterful voice acting. A commercial voice should sound trendy for its era. For instance, my voice print is a millennial and urban sound that is popular in 2019.

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The final commercial voiceover for Spring Moves displayed a voice that was raw and poetic. With amazing visuals that motivated its audience to get out and move. The producers did a great job in directing the session and bringing out my inner athlete. It doesn’t really matter where you start your career. Voice123 or Voices.com- the opportunities for commercial voiceover campaigns are plentiful. If you’re going to learn how to be a voiceover actor- you should also learn how to run a voiceover business. Understand how to navigate the industry formalities and pay respect to the agents that work hard to get your foot in the door.

No two voice over actors are alike. Each of us has a unique sound and perspective and when we get our chance on the microphone, it is our job to hone in and master that sound. Campaigns such as Spring Moves allowed me to master my urban and poetic sound, and today, it is a branded signature sound.

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I have voiced thousands of commercials. Each voice over is treated as a unique experience. The University of Nebraska Lincoln voice over project was and is one of my most admired voice over productions. The casting specs were perfectly in line with my branded urban voice. They wanted a voice that was: poetic, raw, real and African American sounding. A voice over actor that not only understood commercial voice over but specialized in a “college sound”. The casting agents had sent out the audition to many agents including castings sites such as voice123 and voices.com. I remember first auditioning for this project on voice123. Everything from the words, message and music bed were perfectly put together and presented to create a professional voice over experience. When I first started my voice over career, searching “voice over online” only produced a few results and Voice 123 was one of the first voice acting websites that I got my career started on and I treated each audition with the utmost respect.

It’s been over five years since the university of Nebraska Lincoln voiceover project. Till this day, when a producer or director find my profile on one of the numerous voice acting websites, they always refer to this specific commercial voiceover sound. What is it that makes it so special? I believe it’s the authenticity in the voice. A true professional voice actor will know how to not only sound authentic but also how to BE authentic. There are many male voice actors online with a plethora of unauthentic voices demos. In my experience the college and millennial audience requires a voice that is 100% authentic in order to effectively convey its marketing message. If you are a young voice actor out there, please consider a voice acting coach that can help you achieve your most authentic read.

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When I submitted my audition to voice 123, I provided 3 takes for the client to vibe to. The first take was a very energetic and upbeat sound. The second take was a very pensive and quiet sound throughout the whole spot. The third take was the winner–a mix of a pensive poetic sound that built in energy and climaxed at the end. A lot of times the script will guide the different takes a professional voice over actor should give. When the producer awarded me the job she was kind enough to let me know that out of all the other voices on voice123.com and voices.com- I actually sound like a student. A student that had pride and was real. A voice for the students that other students can relate to. More importantly, a voice they could feel. In regards to voice123- I am forever grateful for the platform. I was even able to flip this job to my LA Agent for additional support. There are a host of voice123 reviews online, as of 2019, my review is nothing short of excellence for them.

The voiceover session went as expected and the end result was immaculate. The University of Nebraska Lincoln voiceover project still holds true to my poetic and urban sound. It is the first commercial voice over spot on my voice acting demo reel. It establishes my unique sound and poetic cadence, thus, further solidifying my marketing efforts when promoting my voice acting website and demos online.

Tip: if you get positive comments, feedback and constant praise of a specific voice over style or voice over demo, make sure you keep it and understand its power. Maximize it!

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Commercial voiceover projects for universities and colleges are very popular throughout this country. The IUPUI voice over project is a great example of a university that rallied around student and alumni pride and created content around that concept. The university wanted a voice that would stand out as an inspiring authority figure amongst the growing student body. A voice that was authentically raw with a no b.s attitude.

I remember reading through the casting notice on Voice123 and getting very excited. As a professional voice over actor, I am enthusiastic when a project comes through with all the right details and resources. The commercial voice over session for IUPUI had the perfect combination of music, script and voiceover. Over a few hundred voice over actors online applied with many submitting their voice acting demo reel directly to the producers. With an option to do a custom audition I decided to provide a few different takes. I have been the voice of many college and universities across this country and one thing I do really well is speak to an urban, millennial & younger audience. I never speak down to them. I speak equal to them.

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During the final session for this commercial voiceover project the producers pushed my attitude further and further in order to motivate their targeted audience. One technique they used to do this was ramp up the music and crescendo the copy in parallel with it. Many male voice actors have a hard time being vulnerable. But being vulnerable is the key to connecting with your audience. Can a voice actor show vulnerability and confidence at the same time? Absolutely. The final result came out so good that I even submitted the commercial to voice arts awards.

Whether you want to be a professional voice actor or be considered one of the thousands of home voice actors, success will lie in collaboration. I love doing live voiceover sessions because it allows me to collaborate in real-time with my buyers. Taking direction is an art and all voiceover talent should embrace it. The reason this project was successful was because I was able to take direction well. My enthusiasm became infectious once the director got involved. That was the key to a successful production and collaboration.

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When clients hire voice actors, they may not always know exactly what they are looking for. Producers are inflexed with constant banner ads that say “voice actors for hire” yet finding the right voice for the project can often be a serious adventure. With the plethora of casting sites such as Voices.com and Voice123, many producers end up casting multiple talent for the same spot before narrowing down their final choice.

The Olympia Washington voiceover project was a pleasure to work on. The producers were very kind and generous in their direction. They narrowed their final decision down to myself and another female talent. As any professional voiceover actor may know, sometimes the right voice is not always the voice you imagined. As strong as the female talent was, the producers felt that my smart millennial sound along with the strength of a male voice actor really lifted the spot to life. Just having a good sounding commercial voice is not good enough. Voice over actors most also have: range, acting skills, communication skills, good studio setups and copy compression skills. The producer felt I was a good combination of all those skills.

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The smart and cool millennial sound is very popular nowadays. In certain industries such as: tourism, beverages, fashion and education- the smart millennial voice outshines the rest. For those that hire voiceover talent regularly, you are well versed in listing clear and specific casting specs. All in the hopes that once you put all the pieces together you realize your production is exactly what you imagined. Hiring voice actors online has never been easier. This was one of the first projects for State tourism board and they were extremely satisfied with the end of production.

The inspiring and motivational content created by the producers did a great job in showcasing my range within such specific vocal print–Young Millennial. My goal is to show this range in every voice acting demo reel I create. To showcase that my voice can be poetic and raw but it can also be intelligent and honest.

Don’t be afraid to show your vocal range. It’s what makes you – you.

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