By Stephanie Ciccarelli
July 31, 2007
Join Voice Over Expert Deborah Sale Butler as she teaches you about "Sounding Clean While Speaking Naturally." Deborah enlightens us on how to become aware of your speech, discover how it affects your voice over career, and learn how to acquire a range of speech skills.
Deborah Sale Butler, Voice Actor, Speech Coach, Dialect Coach, Dialects, Dialect Reduction, Los Angeles.
Julie-Ann Dean: Welcome to Voice Over Experts, brought to you by Voices.com, the number one voice over marketplace. Voice Over Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voice over. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voice over talent.
It's never been easier to learn, perform and succeed from the privacy of your own home and at your own pace. This is truly an education you won't find anywhere else. This week, Voices.com is pleased to present Deborah Sale Butler.
Deborah Sale Butler: Hello, this is Deborah Sale Butler. I'm podcasting to you from my studio in Los Angeles, California. As a voice actor and a voice speech and dialect coach for over 20 years, I've heard a lot of very talented actors who weren't getting the work that they wanted because of a simple lack of awareness of their speech.
Most good voice over coaches focus on your acting and how to break down copy. They may give general notes like, "You need to articulate more." But, for the most part, they don't have the training to tell you exactly how to fix the problem.
The result is that actors get frustrated and start to over-pronounce everything so that it sounds completely unnatural. Then, they're told to relax and they mumble and get even more frustrated. That's where speech coaching comes in.
There is a technique to sounding clean and also speaking naturally. Who needs it? Well, anyone considering a career in voice over probably wants a voice that is as flexible as possible. Flexible, meaning that you can create whatever style of speech that is appropriate for the kind of job you're doing.
Of course, your speech will usually be more casual for a commercial copy than for corporate narration. But, in both instances, you need to be clearly understood. After all, your job as a voice actor is to tell the story or sell the product. The audience must understand every word you say.
Flexibility also comes into play when you're substituting another way of speaking, like a dialect or character voice for your own. Certain dialects require a vocal agility that you may not have in your everyday speech. You need to be able to jump into a new speech style quickly and naturally.
It comes in handy for animation or game work, where you may need to create several characters at a time. Having a few dialects at your disposal can make that job easier. We'll talk more about dialects and how to create them in another podcast.
How do you acquire this range of speech? Some lucky folks are born with an ear for it. People fortunate enough to have this skill can recreate any sound or dialect they've heard or can imagine - very handy as a voice actor. I happen to have an ear and use it often as an actor. It's also useful to me as a speech and dialect coach.
For those without a natural ear, I can serve as a substitute for awhile. I can hear the differences between what my students are doing and what they want to do. And then, I help them to hear and recognize it too. Then, the work of substituting the new sounds, music and rhythms for the old ones begins.
Mostly, it's about breaking habits. You've been talking the way you do for however many years you've been alive and most everyone understands you. So, you've had no reason to think twice about the way you speak. Suddenly, you're told you have to make a change.
The first question most people ask is, "How long will it take?" Honestly, there is no one answer to that question. It will take some time to make the transition. How much time depends on many factors. But, with daily practice, in small increments, most people find they're doing things they never imagined in a few months, weeks or even sessions.
The next question usually is do I have to speak differently all the time? That depends too. Some people need to fully immerse themselves in their new way of speaking, until the kinks are worked out. Others can move in and out. Regardless of what technique works best for you, I promise, all you need to do is make one phone call home and your original speech will be back in full force.
So, what's the process like? First, I do an assessment, either in person or over the phone. For speech and dialect coaching, I can work both ways. We talk about your speech history and goals. Then, I assign you exercises to help you with your particular speech challenges. We apply this work to cold reading and prepared copying, even to current projects and auditions.
I've worked with students from all over the country and all over the world. Sometimes a student has trouble letting go of a regionalism or accent. They'll say something like, "But, this is who I am." What I always ask them is, "When you hear your own inner voice, does it have an accent or a regionalism?" The voice in your head is your true self, your true voice.
Your speech is a way of shaping that inner voice, but it's just a tool. You will always be at the core. You are the spark. Like a painter with a new paint box, gaining awareness of your speech and learning to change it at will allows you more colors with which to express that inner voice and deliver the message to your audience.
To learn more about the way I work, you can visit my website at www.deborahsalebutler.com. If you'd like to discuss your own speech needs, feel free to contact me. I look forward to our next podcast.
Julie-Ann: Thank you for joining us. To learn more about this special guest featured in this Voices.com podcast, visit the Voice Over Experts show notes at podcasts.voices.com/voiceoverexperts. Remember to stay subscribed.
If you're a first-time listener, you can subscribe for free to this podcast in the Apple iTunes podcast directory or by visiting podcasts.voices.com. To start your voice over career online, go to Voices.com and register for a voice talent membership today.
Deborah Sale Butler has been a voice-actor and a voice/speech/dialect coach for over 20 years. She has taught voice and speech at The Pittsburgh Playhouse School, The Second City Training Center in Chicago, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts (LA) and The Stella Adler Academy of Acting in Hollywood. She has coached students from around the country and around the world in speech and accent reduction and now coaches privately through her own company, ACT WITH YOUR VOICE in Los Angeles. She coaches actors in person or over the phone on a per-project or ongoing basis. Her approach is to teach students to become aware of their own speech in order to express their inner voice.
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