How do you practice commercial VO without any formal training?

Find voices you like and compare your voice to theirs.

ACX/Audible has voices for hire and they post samples. I’ve never investigated this, but I know it’s possible to get hired to read an audiobook written by someone else.

It’s possible to have microphone errors even with a good system. Read through this brief sound test and post it on the forum. Read it like a commercial.

https://www.kozco.com/tech/audacity/TestClip/Record_A_Clip.html

a garage to myself.

A stuffed garage can be a good place to produce the works. A peaked roof and boxes all over do a good job of soaking up reflections and echoes. If it’s a clean, neat, and orderly garage with a flat ceiling and actual finished walls, then you’re going to have the same problems that other home readers do. Echoes and “reading in a bathroom” sound.

My garage is perfect except for placement. I live in Los Angeles on a busy street. “quiet neighborhood” is hard to come by.

I’m stressing this because a recent forum poster ran into hardware problems and put a good job in danger. To produce the high quality work the client fell in love with, he had to do a bunch of corrections, effects, filters, and detailed editing. His “voice factory” and the time allowed didn’t match.

You can have odd problems, too. I submitted a technically perfect ACX audition reading, but I got rejected for mouth noises.

Also, as a general rule, if you can pass the ACX Audiobook standards, you can submit anywhere else. It’s a good goal.

Koz

There are some “actor” tricks, too.

If you read a long presentation, unless it says otherwise, the beginning and end have to match. This is a frequent New User problem. They get to the last book chapter, listen to how dreadful the first one was and read the first few again.

Not everything is a thirty second “Juicy-Fruit” commercial.

A slightly different problem is not being able to maintain the same “ballsy, radio announcer” voice for two hours. I ran into this early on and is yet another reason I didn’t give up the day job.

Are you going to do “voices?” Some presentations have multiple personalities and are recorded out of order. You need to be able to slide in and out of each voice perfectly, any time, and at will.

See: Nancy Cartwright.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxC1lYlmw1Q

There is a story, probably false, but fun, of a respected radio announcer that would come to work looking like he’d been out on a bender and had been rolling in the gutter all night. The light would come on and his voice and timing would be perfect. Everybody got used to it.

Do you have a regional pitch? Sounding like Texas is not deadly…in Texas, but it’s good to be able to turn that off. There’s no shortage of “American actors” who turn out to be British and presenting an American voice for a show.

Can’t wait for that voice test.

Koz

You didn’t mention headphones. Those are super-highly recommended.

When you talk without them, your voice seems (to you) to be over-accented, theatrical, and cartoony. When you hear it played back, it can be a perfectly normal presenter voice. Headphones shortcut that process and let you hear The Real Thing.

They also keep you from drifting off volume.

Some announcers do that cupped hand thing?

That picture is fake, but the hand thing is not. That feeds some of Gary Owens’ voice up to his ear to help with quality control.

Koz