What is voiceover, or voice acting? If you watch television, listen to radio, or go to the movies, you experience voiceover all the time. But wait, there’s more. . .

When you call just about any business you can think of, you’re probably not going to speak to a live human being right off the bat. You’ll hear an automated response and be asked to “Please pay attention, as our menu options have changed.” A voiceover artist–aka, voice actor–somewhere recorded that menu of options, just as one also recorded the calm-if-brisk listing of possible side-effects of that new wonder drug (“Ask your doctor if [NEW DRUG] is right for you!”), as well as the very animated, hyped-up voice you hear during the trailer for the latest action film. Very different styles of delivery, but essentially the same manner of recording them.

Have you ever noticed that you use a particular tone of voice when you speak to your mother while living at home, and a somewhat different one when you call her on the phone, especially if you have less-than-good news to relay, or a touchy topic to discuss? You will use a different voice to talk to your boss, both in person and on the phone. When it comes to calling your boss to say you’re too sick to go to work, then you’re really doing some voice acting. I don’t mean to imply that you’re not really sick, just that you want to make sure your boss has no doubt about it.

We all adopt the voice—or tone of voice—that will best convey our message to the intended audience.

That’s voice acting in a nutshell.

When recording a commercial or video, the way I speak is largely governed by a director; this person has a certain tone of voice or type of characterization in mind, very often something that will match the video that has already been created to tell a story or sell a product.

When recording an audiobook, I have much more artistic freedom. I get to cast each character/role in the book with the voice I think appropriate. I then get to portray each of these roles throughout what can be a long character arc through the book; it’s also up to me to determine the pacing of individual scenes (or chapters) and the overall pace of the book.

I’ve narrated five audiobooks available from Amazon, Audible, and iTunes, with the sixth and seventh titles in post-production. Read more about them here.