5 Tips for Narrating nonfiction audiobooks
Last Updated on May 10, 2023 by hassan abbas
Audiobooks are a growing industry within the publishing world. With on-the-go lifestyles,
reading a book is not always possible but on-the-go listening is. While audiobooks have been around for a long time mostly for educational uses, they are more popular now than ever.
Here are some tips on how to start voice acting and how to become an audiobook narrator for beginners.
1. Narrate like a TED Talk
First, if you haven’t already, watch a Ted Talk or two… or three and you’ll notice a constantly recurring theme…
People who do Ted Talks whether they be Doctors, Lawyers, or Teachers all have one thing in common…
Know what it is?
They are natural storytellers… They have confidence in what they are saying.
“The most powerful person in the world is a storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda for the entire generation to come.” Steve Jobs
Emulate their style as you develop your own… Narrators are storytellers so, become comfortable with your story-telling ability.
2. Record for 2 hours max at one time. Burnout is real
Audiobooks can be relentless, unlike other recording projects, due to the fact they’ll probably be the longest projects you’ll ever deal with.
Consider that with audiobook work, 30,000 words in one project, spread out over a couple of weeks is not uncommon, so, it’s important to pace yourself and have breaks to maintain your tone and stay hydrated. Stick to 2-hour sessions so you can ‘rest and recuperate’ in order to bring your A-game all the way through the Audiobook.
3. Use different voice styles
As you develop your narration voice, here are some fairly rigid rules to follow that will make the whole narration process a whole lot easier! You’ll develop different ‘tones’ as you depict a softer female character or a gruff male character and there are some universal standards to consider below:
A non-excited voice for titles, sub-titles, etc.
As titles are… ‘titles’ they should be ‘read’ without emotion, almost as if you are ‘stepping away’ from the story and then back into it again as you narrate the next paragraph. Keep that in mind as you lay down your titles and subtitles…
Use an authoritative voice to make points
What we are talking about here is a subtle change in tone to emphasize a point or an area of particular importance to your listener, not the sort of voice your Dad used when you were late home or you hadn’t cleaned your room for a semester!
Use a conversational voice to teach
There’s a huge difference between sounding like your a know-it-all who advises with a sarcastic tone, and a friendly conversational but educational voice…
This is also subtlety and a tone that can take some work to master…
Your conversational tone should be your default tone these days, and one to continue to hone and develop as most audiences don’t want to be told, they want to ‘engage’ as a listener so, practice your conversational tone.
4. Plan your recording times.
Tired? Straight home from a frustrating day at work? Just had an argument with someone? Recording in the morning, then recording in the afternoon?
These are all factors that will affect your recording session. Did you know that if you want to record a ‘deep sound you do it in the morning or super late at night?
Your voice is generally deeper in the morning, right? So, if you’re trying to depict a softer female character in your story, you wouldn’t start that part of the audiobook in the morning… Of course, when you’re tired, frustrated, angry… you won’t be at your best, So, breathe, plan your time, bring your winning mindset, and get it done!
5. Know your audience
Always saving the most important point for last… if you don’t know your audience, how are you going to engage them?
Who are you narrating to?
7-10-year-olds? Teenage females, that like pony Club? Engineers? Parents?
Know your audience by reading your audiobook before you attempt to narrate it, talk to your author and ask how he/she wants to engage the listener.
Thank you for your reading.Good Luck!
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