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This year, I had the honor of judging the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences [SOVAS] Audiobook Narration - Best Voiceover Award. Each nominee had three sections for Jurors to assign a number ranking. These were CLARITY, PERFORMANCE, and ENGAGEMENT. While I might have simplified the titles, it’s my memory and I’m sticking with it.
For the most part, the submissions were anonymous. After listening to 52 audiobook samples in a variety of categories, the area that (I believe) had the most room for improvement was engagement. So, I came up with my own ranking system.
SFX: drum roll 🥁🥁🥁
Elaine Clark’s Guide to Audience Engagement
Speakers and Narrators have 3 audience engagement choices:
These three speech engagement styles are based on the relationship with the listener.
‘AT’ is direct and unapproachable.
‘TO’ is direct with emotion and empathy sprinkled in.
“WITH’ is a dialog with an individual or group.
All three styles are necessary and should be the narrator’s choice rather than arbitrary. Below are reasons why and when you might use one or more of these performance engagement styles.
🎙️ Speaking ‘AT’
Speaking at someone creates a distance or barrier between the speaker and listener. There’s little or no room for discussion or compromise. It’s AUTHORITATIVE information that is expected to be received at face value and acted on as directed. Often, the speaker believes they are superior, more informed, or of a higher status level.
A few cases where the direct ‘speaking at’ style is used are:
GPS voice navigation
Speaking to someone is a more CASUAL, AUTHORITATIVE style. The intention is to share and receive information and ideas. There’s a proper ‘business-like’ distance between the speaker and listener.
Several ways that the casually authoritative, ‘speaking to’ style of speech is used are:
Speaking with someone creates a real or implied dialog with the listener. There’s a shared familiarity with the characters, locations, and situations. Speaking with a person or group promotes active listening, empathy, and imagination. It allows the listener to put themselves in the story rather than observing from a distance.
‘Speaking with’ the audience is used in:
🎙️ Speaking AT… TO… or WITH… Your Audience.
Audience Engagement Choices
Consider your audience and the best way to communicate with them. The more familiar you are ‘with’ the material and your audience… the more acting skills you’ll need.
If you’re thinking about narrating books, check out ACX to find the style and book length that best suits your personality, performance strengths, time, budget, and audio engineering capabilities. Audiences love it, too, when you remove mouth noises and triple check word pronunciations.
🎙️ Know what isn’t an Audiobook? 🎙️Elaine Clark’s Real Talking Tips Podcast
🎙️ 52 VO & Speech Communication Techniques
As a coach and educator, I understand that people learn differently. Now you can view, read, watch, move, and improve your VO skills via these web, blog, and audio/video podcast platforms. Begin with Ep 1 and work your way to Ep 52. For maximum benefit, practice each tip and complete each assignment before you move on to the next episode.
🎙️ Need a REAL Voice-Over Talent or REEL Demo Producer?
@ElaineClarkVO YouTube Talent Database
Click below to hear more demos that I produced. Plus, how this exciting free ElaineClarkVO VO talent database can be used by casting directors, agents & producers.
Contact me at: elaineclarkvo.com/contact or by email: email@example.com.
Check Out Elaine Clark’s Books & Apps!
The Women of the House
One of the great pleasures in my life was recording my Aunt Jane Anne reading the the book she wrote of our family history. It’s about three generations of strong independent women. My grandmother is the woman in the blue hat at the bottom. My mother was born in that house 90 years ago. The Georgia cousins and I are very blessed that it’s still in the family.