Acting, of course, is an essential element in delivering a voice over script. Here are several approaches to refining this craft as an element of voice over delivery.
When you go through a script for the first time, ask yourself first, what is the script about? You can boil the subject of the script down to one or two words. Next, identify who you are, followed by identifying the person you are talking to (your listener). What’s the mood of the piece? Angry? Determined? Tense? Mysterious? Intense? Or is it relaxed? Casual. Conversational. Soothing. Nostalgic.
There is a strong visual component to this analysis. Try to see the images in your mind that the script is evoking.
Is it a breathtaking observation of a scenic view? An angry reaction to social injustice? The joy of possessing the car of your dreams? A despondent observation of poverty in a city slum? A you-are-there reenactment of a wartime battle? A depressing memory of rioting in the streets? A detailed informational description of a technical process or medical procedure? These are, but a few of the myriad subjects you will encounter, and I am sure that you can imagine the kinds of emotional treatments they suggest.
You may ask, is it a serious piece? Or a very casual, informal message? Is it a teaching or informational, or instructional piece? Does it make a lot of emphatic points or illustrations? Is it friendly? Familiar? If it is instructional or informational, assume that you know everything about the subject and that the listener knows nothing. This will never be entirely the case but assume it anyway. Put yourself on a pedestal. Create an air of supreme confidence. You are the expert, the authority. You have come down from the mountaintop with tablets of wisdom in hand. (Remember, this is all fantasy).
If there is one descriptor you don’t want to apply to your delivery, it is ordinary. It is vital that you milk every emotion that is appropriate to the meaning, mood, and purpose of the script. If your listener perceives that you are delivering with inappropriate, over or underdone emotion, you will lose him or her in a heartbeat.
In the early stages of voice over training, I recommend to my students that have trouble letting their emotions out that they overdo the emotional delivery of the script, just for the exercise, because this approach compels them to use emotions they have subdued, in many cases, all of their lives in the reading-aloud process. Left alone, the reticence, shyness, and fear of performance that they developed during reading-aloud classes in school will remain with them. They need to break away from this syndrome if they are going to come across as believable and authentic.
It is also very useful to imitate lines that people say in different emotional situations, just for exercise. Imitation is a skill at which all great actors excel.
Producers hire professional voice over actors because they know that their scripts will be brought to life and made special by a voice over artist who has been trained by a competent, insightful voice acting coach who knows and understands the importance of acting in the voice over process.