It's going to happen. You're going to get a script that has too many words to fit in a short amount of time. The director is going to ask you to speed it up, but don't sound like you're going fast. Oh-Kaaay. Welp, in this vid we talk about how to talk fast, and then, how to talk faster.
How to Talk FAST! - or - Fitting 10lbs of words in a 5lbs bag. - 6:38
Hey guys. Welcome to another edition of the Gift of Gab. How fast can you talk? Like seriously, how fast can you go until people can still understand every single word you can say and then some? Let's find out.
All right guys, super fast, speed talking is still totally a thing in the commercial world. I first learned how to do it in the radio world because you kind of had to, and local radio ads are the worst and always try to kind of cram too much copy into a lot of time, but it's a normal thing inside of most commercial things. Nowadays, it is still a skill. I use it actually a lot, more often than you'd think. Now, do I still have commercial clients that need me to micro-machine on a regular basis? Yeah, pretty much: tags, clients, inserts, disclaimers, you name it. The trick is to talk really really fast to meet a time slot or count that has been pre-allotted. Usually it's like 10 seconds long, maybe a little bit under, clearly enunciating every single word and being able to do it on command. Can you do it? Have you tried? I promise you, it's a skill.
All right, so how does this work? You pick a tagline, you go fast. How fast? Get out the stopwatch on your cell phone. That's the place to start. See how long it takes you to read something. Maybe it's 11 seconds. Great. Next, go for 10. Read it again. Read it again. Go for 9. Read it again, go for 8. Read it again, go for 7. Keep going, shave your time - believe it or not - in tenths of a second, because sometimes that is what you have to be able to do.
Another part of this is to learn how to have an internal clock that is aware of time counts. If I put a one minute timer on my microwave, I can be there at 59.9 seconds. Crazy? Yeah, but that is a real thing people in TV, radio, media, we are used to that because those are the increments in which most of our work takes place. You have to have similar internal clocks to what, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 60 seconds, those are the primaries, those are the ones I want you to focus on the most. Does this stuff sound good? Meh, not really. Am I here to judge it? Nope, don't care. It pays my bills, it is not my decision to determine what the creatives, the clients, the people involved in these decisions should make, it's theirs to make. I am not going to turn away a gig or an opportunity that, right, again, pays my bills and keeps me employed. If all it requires is for me to boogie, I know that I have to be able to do it and not everybody can. This is not an "I love the nightlife" kind of boogie either, right? No, we're talking about super super super super super fast talking.
There's another side to this coin and I know some of you are thinking, "But Gabby, couldn't they just speed you up?" Yes, there is a thing. There is artificial digital compression that can be used to speed up audio. Is it done still? MMHMM. Is it noticeable? MMHMM. Very much so. As a matter of fact, most of us can hear it. Once you get used to hearing it and know what it sounds like, you can't un-hear it. As a matter of fact, you will always be able to recognize it, so most clients would prefer to avoid it if possible. They will use it only as a last resort and when absolutely necessary and usually, they still only choose to use it if it's because the time marker that they need to meet is virtually impossible, and even then, it's only on a disclaimer which, to be perfectly honest, they really don't care about anyway and they don't care if they damage the audio.
All right, so how do you do this? Look, let me give you some tips. These are the building blocks or the foundations for being able to motor mouth your way through most voiceovers. First of all: breath control. I'm talking like crazy amounts of diaphragmatic expansion, good lungs, you've got to be able to use and plan your air and placement when and where you are going to breathe. Have you ever taken singing lessons? If you haven't, get on it. I can't sing to save my life but I'm going to tell you right now, taking choral lessons in school and as a kid and being in chorus and taking singing lessons? Holy sh*t does it help, because it teaches you how to use your breath, how to have control over the diaphragm to be able to do these sorts of things, and honestly, it allows you to be able to say more words with the least amount of air possible. It also gives you the ability to really control how you release air, slowly over time, so that it's not a big AHHHH as you're talking. Notice you really don't hear much of my breath except when I take the inhale, which is the thing that you can edit out very easily. Exhaling? Not so much. And by the way, if on the inhale, those breaths are big and enormous and obnoxious, that is okay, specifically because of the fact that they can be edited out. And I know that that sounds wild but seriously, if you're gonna motor mouth, if you're gonna be speaking really, really fast, it's not uncommon to have to take a breath that big and to be able to really really expand all the way into your lungs to be able to do it. Also, please, make a mental note that just because you raise your shoulders up does not mean you have taken a deep breath! That is not what we are talking about. Diaphragm expansion is actually your abdomen, it's all the way into your belly and it goes all the way back to your kidneys.
Okay, the other big tip: blow past almost all the punctuation in the script, because you don't have any time for it anyway, therefore it does not matter and it is not applicable here today at this time. What I end up doing is using my hands a ton to punctuate what I'm saying and how I'm saying it, and I become my own conductor. Again, we go back to music. You can see me doing it right now! It helps, it helps me to be clear, it helps me to enunciate, it helps me to get the words out and to get them out and make them meaningful.
And my last tip, and I know it sounds kind of wild, but if you've ever been in the military or a marching band, you will know exactly what I am talking about: please please please, no matter what you do, do not lock your knees. You're going to be going so fast and using up so much breath that if you lock your knees and you cut off oxygen to the lower half of your body, there's a very good possibility that you will pass out in your booth. I'm not so much worried about you, I'm worried about your microphone. That's the honest truth. Love you, mean it.
Gabrielle Nistico, Gabby Nistico, The Voiceover Vixen, The Business First VO Coach, #VoiceoverVixen #VoiceOnFire #BusinessFirstVOCoach Voiceover, Charlotte, North Carolina, Voiceover Demo, Voiceover Coaching Advice, Working Actors, Los Angeles, New York, How to Be a Better Voice Actor, breath control, fast talking, copywriters, compression, marching band, military, commercial copy, taglines