How to Develop Voice Over Chops
by Susan Berkley


Ever heard of the term “chops”? The dictionary defines chops as the technical skill with which a jazz or rock musician performs. But I think it applies to voice over too.

So what are voice over chops and how can we develop them? I’ve identified 6 core qualities of a virtuoso voice talent with chops..

First of all I define chops as the ability to listen and take direction. Often, this boils down to knowing what questions to ask the director in the voice over session. For example, if you’re playing a cop, you might ask the director how long this cop you are playing has been on the force, how he feels about his job. An actor with chops never takes anything at face value.

Second, I think chops means having excellent voice control. It means knowing how to produce subtle nuances of inflection. It also means being familiar with voice placement and the range of sound you can produce on your instrument.

Third, a voice talent with good chops is a master of phrasing. He or she knows exactly where to place pauses and beats for best effect. Improve your phrasing by recording and imitating the voice actors in spots that are running on the air.

Fourth, a talent with chops is in control of time. He or she can shave or add a second with ease. This can often be done with judicious editing, but it’s still important to master timing so you can adjust it on the fly.

Fifth, a talent with chops can act. They can lose themselves completely in the copy, become the character and let nothing break their concentration.

And finally, a talent with chops has emotional control. They are easy-going and good humored. No matter how difficult the session, they never lose their cool and maintain poise and equilibrium at all times.

Starting Monday January 2, I’ll mentor and provide personal one on one coaching to a select group of voice over beginners and emerging talent who want to develop their chops and make 2012 their best year ever. It’s called the VO Launchpad program and you’ll find the details at or contact The Great Voice Company at 800-333-8108 x229 or

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Susan Berkley is a top voice over artist and founder of The Great Voice Company, a company devoted to teaching great voices around the world how to become successful voice over actors. The Great Voice Company is an international leader in voice over training and in providing top quality voice over recordings in all languages to discerning businesses and marketers. For additional information visit