Warm-Up Act

Corpsing can have its advantages ..........

Much as I retain a lingering affection for my home city of Birmingham, it has what is probably the worst accent in the country – and I was exposed to it from birth.  Over the years, I’ve managed to eradicate most of it, although the occasional Brummie whine still creeps in, especially if I’m talking to a fellow native.

But it wasn’t until my voiceover workshop that I realised I still had the characteristic flatness that goes with the whine.  I’d always thought I had quite an expressive voice but take away my facial expressions and hand gestures, and some of the energy goes with them.

So one of the big learning points from the session was to work on those energy levels.  Gary Terzza, my trainer, suggested I smiled while recording to give my voice some warmth.  That wasn’t difficult – I’m a habitual grinner – and I could hear the difference, although keeping that smile going for several minutes was another matter ……

I have, though, found an even better way of energising my voice – and it was totally by accident.  In the middle of what should have been a relatively straightforward audition for a telephone answering system, I repeatedly fluffed one word – “voicemail” kept becoming “voicemeal”.  Heaven knows why, but I found it funny at the time and I had a fit of the giggles.  Letting them take their course seemed the sensible thing to do, and I did another take when I had barely stopped laughing.

The difference was an eye-opener.  My voice was warmer, more vibrant and welcoming.  Now I have to laugh rather than just smile just before recording anything that needs that energy.  Admittedly, I have to get my timing spot-on so that I don’t guffaw down the mic, but it really does work for me.

In case the laughter dries up, I now keep a list of things near the microphone that I know will make me laugh.  Top of the list is the current TV commercial for PlusNet, with “embarrassing Dad” giving a cheery “Hello, son!” to his mortified lad.  It never fails.  Then there’s the Family Fortunes classic: “Name a bird with a long neck.” “Naomi Campbell!”  And, of course, the single word “Fenton!”

It will need refreshing from time to time, so if you can think of anything else that belongs on my laughter list, please feel free to suggest it!

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