A passing comment in an email from a client the other day got my wheels spinning. I’ve noticed this phenomenon, but was never able to put my finger on the issue so well. The client shared that a batch of recent e-Learning auditions we sent him sounded “soft” – as if the narrators we’re reading a book aloud in a very quiet room. In other words, there was no energy, no engagement with the potential listener.
Now, I know VO pros are always encouraged to think of the microphone as a person’s “ear” and be aware of the power of the intimacy of their voice when speaking softly. But this client was hoping to hear more energy and enthusiasm, yet still have the read be conversational.
It came to me that I had noticed this same phenomenon myself when working with voices from their home studios. I have have had to push the talent to get a little more zest.
The one thing that just may be holding them back in their delivery could be the SIZE of the person’s recording space. I’m going to call it “small space syndrome.”
Human’s, by nature, will tend to speak softly when they enter a closet sized room because they know they don’t have to speak-up to be heard. A small VO booth may be having that same subliminal effect on narrators. Even a space carved off a larger room using acoustic curtains can have a dampening effect on a performance.
I know I’m spoiled. I own a professional studio with a nice, roomy VO booth that we designed from the ground up. It is, on average, 9’ x 16’ with enough room for three voice talent at a time comfortably. It’s big enough to feel like a room. When you perform in our VO booth you can speak in normal, bold tones with no hesitation.
So how do you overcome small space syndrome? Well, just being aware and conscious of it is a good step one. Listen to your auditions back in another room or on a different computer and see if you gave it enough energy. Part of your prep might be to imagine yourself in a larger room. Forget that it is just you and the microphone. Down the road you might consider an expansion of your space. Adding a window might give you a different perspective, too. Something to think about.
Who knows, knowing this just might give you that little edge in your next voiceover audition.