7 Simple Rules That Will Make You Great in any Live Voiceover Performance
By Tony Pasquale
Until recently, I spent the better part of a decade on the road producing live events. In fact, the most days I spent working on location, in one year, was 282 (there’s only 365 in a year for you calendar aficionados)! That year I claimed my suitcase as a dependent.
When it comes to live event production, I’m a fricking ninja! But after so long, this ninja got tired. While the experiences of producing shows in 37 different states, Malaysia, Germany, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Singapore were great; it was taking away from my voiceover work.
For many of those shows, I wore multiple hats as producer, director, video-awesome-guy, and live announcer. It was crazy to do it all, but I loved being a live announcer the most! Think about it…there you are…THE VOICE in a ballroom, convention center, arena, theater, or stadium speaking to hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people!
It’s Not About Your Voice. It’s About Listening.
Having the rare chance to be a live event announcer is one of the biggest rushes a voice actor can experience! But being THE VOICE comes with a LOT of responsibilities. And at the end of the day (or post-show as us insiders call it), being a live event announcer is not about how you sound, it’s about how you listen.
- Reality Check; Repeat this to yourself…IT’S NOT ABOUT ME! Good! Now say it again 25 times. The work that goes into a live show is staggering, to say the least. You are a small portion of a very LARGE production. This is not the time to have an ego. Like any good performer knows, you check that ego at the door. The director, producer, crew, and production company have done so much work. Respect that. You are a resource to help their vision come together.
- LISTEN TO YOUR DIRECTOR: If you can’t take direction, then this isn’t the job for you. Everything executed in a live production has a purpose. Show production can have dire consequences if you don’t listen and execute. Pacing and timing are everything as a live announcer. And those directing you are there to make sure you get it right. Just accept there are good reasons behind everything the director has you do.
- The Sound of Your Voice Doesn’t Matter: This goes right in line with knowing it’s not about you. No one cares if you have an amazing booming voice that echos throughout the theater. Or if you can sound so sexy you can make it feel like a “pants optional” event. They hired you for a reason. You’re a professional and you have a sound they like. Stick with their delivery style and don’t embellish. Plus, from an audience members perspective…over-indulgent announcers are obnoxious.
- Know Your Audience: Understanding who is out there, is similar to being in a booth and imagining you’re talking to someone directly. Is it a corporate fund raiser for an insurance company? An awards show? A brand launch? An annual kickoff meeting? Or 20,000 screaming teens? Each one will have a different delivery style. Do your homework and research the event. Ask the production company, (long before the event), if they have video or audio of last year’s show to help get you in the right frame of mind.
- Be Prepared: Just like camping you need to be prepared if you get stranded. During a show, you might be stranded backstage, in a booth, or in an orchestra pit for the duration. Make sure you carry at least the 3 essentials: bottles of water (room temp), pens, and blank paper.
- Show Up Early: Rehearsals are scheduled for a reason. But like most shows, your rehearsal, or sound check, is in a long list of others. Showing up early, ready-to-go helps, but be patient if they aren’t ready for you. Sometimes rehearsals run long so yours might be pushed. Check-in with your main contact and wait. Having a positive, flexible, and easy-to-work-with attitude can go a long way!
- Trust the Crew: There are a lot of people on a production; lighting designers, sound engineers, technical producers, union crew, visual artists, etc…these people are highly trained and take great pride in what they do. TRUST THEM! You might not interact with most, but when you do, they can give you valuable insight into the show. And a sincere “Thank You” for their work is so appreciated…maybe it’ll help get you back next year.
Not a lot of people are privileged enough to be a Live Event Announcer, so if you are CONGRATS! Being prepared, helpful, a good listener, a little humble, and a pleasure to work with on-site is more important than how you sound. If you go in having the right attitude, and work with the production company; your performance will sound AMAZING! Now break a leg…or…have a great show!