VAM 051 | Social Skills: The Secret to Better Voice Acting

VAM 051 | Social Skills: The Secret to Better Voice Acting

Welcome to episode 51 of the Voice Acting Mastery podcast with yours truly, Crispin Freeman!

As always, you can listen to the podcast using the player above, or download the mp3 using the link at the bottom of this blog post. The podcast is also available via the iTunes Store online. Just follow this link to view the podcast in iTunes:

In this episode I’d like to talk to you about acting. Specifically I want to show you how acting is not about “creating a performance” as much as it is bringing a character to life by calling upon your own personal experience as a human being interacting with other people.

It is my opinion that actors rely heavily on the social skills that they have developed over their lifetime to bring believability to their performances.

Often my students misunderstand the acting process and think it’s about demonstrating a character or “putting on” a voice. They think there is a “right way” to perform a line of dialogue and they strive to achieve acting success by honing in on that “correct” performance. I suffered from this same misconception when I started acting, but it turns out there is no “right way” to read a line. There is only what is believable within the circumstances of a scene. In order to create a believable performance, you must call upon your own personal experiences of interacting with people in social environments and apply that knowledge to your character. You must infuse your character with your own life experience.

I take this episode to explain exactly what I mean in detail and I also offer three different techniques to improve your social skills. I hope you find it useful!

Download Voice Acting Mastery Episode #51 Here (MP3)


20 Responses to “VAM 051 | Social Skills: The Secret to Better Voice Acting”

  1. Kalyn McCabe says:

    Yeah, as much as an I am an introvert, I love being around people and getting to know them. I think they are so interesting and fascinating to watch.

    In an acting class I took, we had tactic infinitives we used in a scene, along with a single sentence to repeat.

    So, say one would play “to go” and the other would play “to stay”, and their sentence would be “Let’s go!” and the other would be “Let’s stay!” respectively. They would use different intensities of body language and voice volumes to get the other person to be on your side. Pretty interesting stuff.

    Thanks for the podcast! I enjoyed it very much.

    Much love,
    ~ Kalyn

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      Glad you enjoyed the episode. That acting exercise sounds very useful! Thanks for sharing!

      • Ali Asif says:

        I’d like to say that there are standards to follow in voice overs but I also feel that it mostly involves the heart and your passion towards it. The greater the passion, the better the performance. However, I’d still like to take one of your classes to be sure about all this stuff.

        • Crispin Freeman says:

          I have found that my students have plenty of passion, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into good acting ability. I have a passion for music, but that doesn’t mean I can play the piano well. Acting is an art form, and like any art form if you don’t learn the craft of that art, no amount of passion will make you a good artist. Passion can certainly motivate you to learn the craft of an art form, but passion by itself is not enough in my opinion.

          However, your experience may be different. Everyone has a different acting process. Perhaps thinking of it in terms of passion helps you perform better. Do you find that having lots of passion has helped you book more voice acting jobs?

  2. Wilson says:

    Just to let you know: there’s something odd going on at the end of the track. In the MP3, the closing music suddenly cuts off, and your voice comes in mid-sentence: “–pretend as that character. Make sure you’re applying the years of experience you have interacting with other people, so that we–” and then the track ends.

    (Also, Windows reports the track as being 12:37 and it ends almost a minute shorter than that, but that is probably because Windows uses the file size to determine the length and doesn’t subtract non-sound elements like embedded images.)

    Note: in the online player, the fragment of speech at the end doesn’t occur, but the music does get cut off in what sounds like the same place.

    Not complaining, especially since all of the main content is there; just thought you’d want to know.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      Thanks for letting me know. Somehow iTunes corrupted the end of the file when it encoded it. First time that’s happened in 50 episodes! I’ve uploaded a new, uncorrupted version so it should be all good now. You can go ahead and re-download the file to get the updated version.

  3. Eric Rivera says:

    Excellent podcast. When I was in high school, I was a real jerk. I did not want to interact with anyone. For some reason, when I got into college, the opposite happened. I couldn’t stand not talking to someone. My job at the University Bookstore was cool because I had to help all kinds of customers find what they were looking for.

    My current job doesn’t really have me interacting with many people. However, my Summer Theater Workshop starts on Monday and I can’t wait to get started. Not only is the experience going to get me one step closer to graduating, but also one step closer to my dream.

    Thank you for your time and wisdom.

  4. Terance says:

    Interesting topic. I believe being able to do public speaking is a very important social skill for actors as well. Although most stage actors don’t struggle with this, I’ve seen a lot of amateur VA’s talk about how they don’t want to do stage acting because you have to perform or speak publicly. Public speaking can not only teach you how to effectively communicate to different types of audiences, but also how to better use your voice and words. Public speaking is similar to acting in that the bolder and more creative choices you make, the better the chances you have of your audience falling in love with your performance. I haven’t taken an improv class before, but my experience being in Toastmasters (a public speaking organization) and doing table topics (questions you have to answer on the fly without time to formulate an answer) has given me experience in creating ideas on the spot like improv. I would recommend every actor take at least one public speaking class at some point.

  5. Perry King says:

    That was yet another fascinating podcast.Is there by any chance anymore educational podcasts or perhaps some more interview podcasts with other Anime voice actors?

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      I strive to make every podcast educational. And yes, I plan on interviewing more voice actors in the future.

  6. Mike V. says:

    Thank you for the advice on the social aspect of voice acting: this will definitely help with my current recordings, especially with my own restraunt job. I never really thought of the impact of the social experiences that voice actors go through to create convincing characters. I’m recording narrating through a book series I love and am getting used to at least hearing my voice and learning to read and speak at the same time. I am starting to feel more confident in my abilities and am starting to appreciate more the talent and years of voice over experience you and other veteran voice actors have. Thanks again for an enlightening episode.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      You’re very welcome. I’m always trying to call on my student’s experience interacting with others in order to make them sound authentic and believable. All the best to you.

  7. Amy Scott says:

    Another great episode. I started acting classes at the end of last year I love every second.
    The best stuff is when you split into two and one person has a script and the other improvises the next lines.
    Its so much fun, because the scripted lines are always really weird 🙂

    Retail is another area that is great for not only your social skills but your acting skills too. 😀

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      I hadn’t thought about retail before, but you’re right. That’s also a good place to develop inter-personal skills. Glad you liked the episode.

  8. Terance says:

    Hey Crispin, I have a question about taking advice. Everyone knows the expression, “Everybody’s a critic,” and this applies very heavily to acting. Everyone has an idea of what an actor can do to improve and my question is how do you discern what to listen to and what not to listen to?

    For example, in the amateur world of voice over VA’s try to help out one another by giving each other advice on how to improve. Some of it can be helpful and some of it can be kind of head-scratching. Sometimes I get the feeling of “the blind leading the blind” when it comes to amateurs giving other amateurs advice. I’m not saying amateur VA’s can’t give good advice, but results can vary from time to time.

    Sorry for the long and possibly confusing question. It was something on my mind I felt maybe you could answer. After all, to this day you probably still receive advice from everybody on what you can do to improve.

    • Crispin Freeman says:

      You ask a very delicate and nuanced question.

      I think the best criteria for deciding who to listen to in terms of voice acting advice is to ask yourself if that person has the success that you want. If the person giving you advice does the kind of work you’d like to do, then I would value their opinion more highly. However, if the person giving you advice doesn’t produce the artwork that you admire or doesn’t work in a field that appeals to you, then I think you can take their advice with a grain of salt.

      Does that help?

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