There’s a lot of buzz in the industry right now about authenticity. Millennials & GenX-ers are suspicious of a ad being too “selly”. Copy writers, ad agencies, clients and talent alike are honing skills to make an ad sound less like an ad – and more like a friend just chatting with you about an idea, a product or a company they trust.
What’s interesting about voice over for me is how we communicate ideas and stories. So much of what we communicate both recorded and live conversation is not even based on what we say – but techniques we use to say it. How we use our bodies, where we place sound in our mouths, and what we do with our faces while we speak can change the sound of our read – and or our conversation – dramatically.
Let me share a story. About 2 weeks ago, during a toastmasters speech I wanted to illustrate how adding a simple smile can change the tone of an outgoing voice message to sound warmer and friendlier. I asked the audience to close their eyes and listen to me read the message two times.
The first time I read the message in a friendly manner – and I intentionally frowned. The second time I read it, I smiled. Then I asked the audience which they preferred. Everyone said they liked the second read. Everyone but 2 people. That threw me. Then I realized what happened.
Even though I WAS smiling during the second read – it was TOO much of a smile. I exaggerated it to make my point – and in so doing – slid right past it. The 2 people noticed that while it indeed sounded warmer, it also sounded fake. Because it was.
Then I remembered something that happened to me recently when a colleague mentioned really liking my outgoing message. I changed it. Because I am sometimes my own worst critic, and I got caught up in the details that DON’T matter – the copy – I inadvertently changed the tone. Even my daughter noticed. “Why do you sound so fake?” She asked. The same colleague asked me a day or so later “You changed your message. Why?”
I was determined to fix it. That afternoon I went back into my voicemail settings and this time I followed my dog around for a short moment until she made me laugh. I quickly hit “play” and said whatever came to my mind – not worrying about the details this time but more about the tone. It worked.
Try it the next time you leave a voicemail message for a friend, colleague or even family member. And if you need a little help getting an authentic smile – watch a funny youtube video first to get your smiling muscles warmed up. Then watch how a simple action like a real smile can change the tone of your voice, magically.