Are you speaking your audio book as if you were reading it? Reading your book and narrating your book have completely different approaches. The process focuses on your different skills of communication. The most common mistake made when you read a passage out loud is to let your voice drone on through every word in a steady stream with little expression. For your audio version of your book you must use your voice as a tool of interpretation for the meaning behind the words that are written.
Here are three essentials to keep in mind when attempting to record your book or to narrate segments orally to an audience.
#1 is Organization: The first element you must ask yourself is: what am I thinking about in this section of the book? When reading a book you follow the words as your eyes cross each line on the page. You hold in your mind what the images are as the information evolves. It is a passive form of interaction because your eyes run ahead of your mind: you read then think. So, the key here is that you must avoid speaking your words in this pattern and not utter them on one pitch level, or cram too many words in at one time.
Compare this to speaking in conversation with someone. You automatically think first about something that you want to say, and then you speak it. You naturally group your words together according to the thought first. If you wish to tell your friends about something interesting, you allow your voice to get excited about it, and you chunk your thoughts randomly in conversation. Therefore, when narrating your audio text you need to group only one idea and the words belonging to that idea, then speak it. Take time to embrace each new idea. Speak as if you want your listener to feel the moment with you. If you do this, you will be reading more naturally and easily.
#2 is Expression: The second element is to take your thought segments and show surprise, excitement, curiosity, fear, joy, wonder, sadness, enjoyment, or any other emotions to give certain words the force that is needed. Your expression should be natural as if discovering the text for the first time. Think of the image that you may have seen before and reproduce it through your voice. You are using your thinking processes actively when narrating audio books and awakening the pictures in your mind to pass onto the listener through your tone.
To practise this skill of sensory expression, observe and imagine, and then describe any object of nature that you might encounter on a short walk outside your home; such as, a leaf, a flower, a bird, or a blade of grass. Speak expressively about the details of these items. Remember your listeners do not have the text of the book to check out the details. This is a great exercise to tune your voice inflection and observation skills. You use your breathing skills and tone of voice to create the pictures and feelings in the words of your book.
#3 is Pace: The third element to be aware of is the pace that you speak and the clarity of your words. Not all audio books contain descriptive environments or characters and dialogue which require extreme expressive tones. To narrate a documentary, an educational textbook, how-to manuals, or staff training materials, you still need to group the ideas or steps accordingly, and give expression throughout. However, you must be clear on the pronunciations of your words, or specialized industry terms and understand what the concept is. For example, any audio book of medical, scientific, engineering, or some other unique genre needs to be correctly and clearly spoken.
In addition, you will find that a slower pace works best so the endings of words are not dropped or rushed together. Your pace will only enhance your tone and your expression ranging from a serious tone of importance, to a neutral tone as a bridge, to an example, story, or data of information. Pace for speaking all types of audio materials whether fiction or non-fiction is important to the image, feelings, and facts that need to resonate with the listener.
The professional audio voice-over talent must use all the mental, physical, and vocal skills to get the right balance for the listeners. They are experienced oral readers trained in the skills of how to expand the capacity of breath control, how to group phrases to make it the ideas connect, how to find the key words to give expression with matching the pace, to give an overall tone that works.
If you have written your book and want to do the narration yourself, then be sure to get some professional coaching; or better still, hire a professional narrator. You want to match the high quality of your content to the high quality of your audio version. Your listeners will vary from people who listen while they drive, to busy people who can listen and multi-task, and to the blind who are studying school texts or listening to fictional literature. Voice-over skills for narrating your audio book can be learned but it’s not something that you can wing it and get it right!
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