Audiobooks are becoming more popular with over 20% of book consumers stating a preference for listening to a book rather than reading one. If you’ve ever thought about narrating your own book, you would do well to listen to the July 2018 SkillBites Show. Gabriella Cavallero was our guest this month, and as the narrator of over 900 audiobooks, she had some key tips to share about narrating an audiobook.
Gabriella is a lead voice and presentation coach at Articulate: Real&Clear. She has over 25 years’ experience as a professional actor, teacher, director, voice and dialect coach.
Some of the tips that Gabriella shared include:
– Knowing how to breathe properly is key to communicating authentically. You want to have a full, present, supported voice.
– Learn how to use a microphone properly – make sure you’re not picking up background or environmental noise which will interfere with the recording; avoid breath and mouth noises; and know how modulate your tone based on the distance from the mic and how to keep a steady distance in relationship to the microphone, especially during a long recording session.
– Narrating well involves acting skills such as being able to sound like you are speaking naturally rather than reading written language; speaking without stumbling; knowing when to take breaths and how to take breaths as inaudibly as possible; and knowing when meaningful pauses are effective. Varying your voice in tone, inflection, resonance, and tempo not only when you have many characters but also in the narrative (non-dialogue) sections of the audiobook is key to being understood and keeping your audience engaged.
– Preparation is critical. You can save a lot of time by doing the homework before you get into the recording session. You need to be clear about what you want the reader to get out of the book. Marking the text ahead of time is essential, e.g., underlining the words/points you want to stress or lift up for the listener, and notating where you need a definite tone change at the beginning of a new paragraph or section. For books with multiple characters, you also want to mark the varied voice choices you’ll make so the listener has no trouble distinguishing between characters.
– Be consistent in your accents/dialects and vocal choices for your characters.
– Good physical alignment helps you have the fullest vocal quality. You need to sit or stand with a straight spine with your head over the trunk of your body for optimal breath support.
– You need to maintain an even level of energy. If you find your energy ebbing, take a break, move around, do a few stretches, and stay hydrated.
– Do a sample narration and listen to it. Do you like what you sound like? Is there sufficient variation of pace, range, rhythm and tone? Do you emphasize the right points and pause at appropriate places? Do you hear any breaths or lip smacking?
– Think about whether you ought to hire a professional/s. You want to create a high quality product. Even if you have a good voice, it may be more expensive in the long run to narrate the work yourself. Creating the best quality, professional audiobook takes a team of people. An engineer who know how to work the recording equipment optimally and be listening for consistency, a coach or director who can be your ears during the process and get the best “reading” you can give, and an editor to do the review and edits before you send the audiobook out into the world can be the difference between an “okay” audiobook and a brilliant one.