As a voice actor, you need to have all the essential skills: voice range, voice versatility, proper pronunciation and intonation, and appropriate pacing, to name a few. However, there is one skill that you should keep in your voiceover arsenal at all times: cold reading, or the ability to read a script effectively even if you are viewing it for the very first time.
Cold Reading Skill as a Competitive Advantage
Voice artists who have had ample voiceover work experience will tell you that some recording sessions may proceed under not-so-ideal circumstances. Ideally, a script should be handed to you days or hours prior to recording so you will have time to practice reading. This includes finding the right voice for the material, editing the manuscript for possible punctuation errors, and highlighting certain key areas.
Unfortunately, this may not always happen with some voiceover work tasks. It’s possible for you to be called to stand in for another voice artist without prior notice, or to be handed a manuscript only a few minutes before recording. When this happens, you need to be able to cold read.
How to Practice Cold Reading as a Voice Actor
The best way to practice and improve your cold reading skill is to read as wide a variety of materials as possible, on a daily basis. The more varied the material, the better. You may practice reading product labels, magazine feature articles, or even the random pages of an old novel.
In addition to reading, you will also need to improvise. Think about the script’s audience. Think about the character who is speaking through you. Then, adopt the most convincing style of voice. As much as possible, expose yourself to a variety of authors and various kinds of texts, from objective journalistic pieces to emotionally-colored prose. Through constant practice, you are developing the ability to successfully cold read for any kind of voiceover work.
As a professional voice actor, you have to be ready for any impromptu task that may come your way. The ability to adapt to fast-changing, highly-flexible situations is what sets a consummate voice artist from the rest. By practicing your cold reading skills, you can take on any voiceover work even with very little time to prepare.