By Stephanie Ciccarelli
January 7, 2014
Have you ever wondered what it takes to record copy in a voice-over script really quickly?
If you've ever a disclaimer read at lightning speed to squeeze in more words during a commercial, you've witnessed speed talking in action. What most people don't know about speed talking though is that the skill can be learned and can be mighty useful as a voice-over talent to possess.
Are you a candidate for speed talking?
Find out what it takes in today's VOX Daily!
The Fast and the Articulate
If you can think it, you can voice it.
Trying your hand at speed talking can be both challenging and rewarding. The best way to go about speed talking is naturally to start slow and then speed up. Think of playing an instrument. When first picking up a new piece of music, a musician hammers out the notes slowly and methodically to ensure that they have a firm grasp of what's on the page. Once their performance is ironed out and accurate, the musician gently increases their tempo, expressing the notes as they are written on the page but at a faster speed.
Maybe you've experienced something similar when learning how to type.
Talking is no different.
Speed Talking Tips
If developing speed talking skills is on your to do list, these tips will be of great use to you:
- Start with tongue twisters
- Enunciate well
- Breathe deeply
- Control the breath
- Breathe less during the course of your read to leave more room for words
- Find a rhythm to it
- Phrase carefully
- Being cautious with multisyllabic words
The Fastest Talkers in the World
Steve Woodmore of Great Britain was at one point the fastest talking person in the world. He out-talked his predecessor, "Motormouth" John Moschitta, Jr., an American whose record was 586 words per minute (WPM). You could say that these gents are versed in Tachylalia, a term for extremely rapid speech. Woodmore first held the world record for speed talking in 1990. At one point, he was out-voiced by a woman, Fran Capo of the United States. Capo has broken the record twice, the first time when appearing on Larry King Live in 1986. Woodmore regained the title from Capo shortly after his defeat. The current record holder, Sean Shannon, was clocked at a rate of 655 WPM by the Guinness Book of World Records™ on 30 August 1995.
In his prime, Steve Woodmore could speak 637 WPM, speaking almost 6 times faster than a normal person.
How did he manage?
In the following video interview, Steve Woodmore shared, "I mainly rehearse the package I'm going to break the world record with over and over again. The trick is to get the breathing right. If you can breathe as little as possible then you're faster so the less breaths I take in, the faster I become."
You can watch the interview now via YouTube or here on the blog:
Is All Speed Talking Natural?
While most of what you hear is natural, some speed talking recordings are cleaned up in post-production. A little bit of splice and dice if you will. The voice can also be marginally sped up.
Take comfort that not all speed talking recordings are done in one take and most voice artists practice the copy many times before they get it right at the required pace. I'm sure you can agree with voice artist Richard Yeomans who enjoys "knowing it isn't always done in one take."
That said, what can people do to attain super sonic speech? Is this a very special talent or are there little things along the way that each of us can do to speed up our speech? Fran Capo was on Discovery Channel at one point. The video below takes a look at Fran's capabilities from a medical perspective and why she has the ability to speak faster than most humans.
Voice Samples From Speed Talkers
Remember Motormouth John Moschitta, Jr.? He was in a Federal Express ad showing off his speed talking skills. Take a look:
Tips on Speed Talking From Voice-over Pros
"PREP! Deep breaths, nuances in phrasing, carefully edited spacing (be aware of your breaths in between lines when you're going through the takes), and for myself-a slight speed enhancer patch in the software (not TOO much, otherwise it sounds awful). I admit it." -Todd Osborne
"A long breath, clear your mind, read the copy BEFOREHAND thoroughly, enunciate clearly and do not force the delivery."
Remember when we talked about speaking slowly and building up to a faster read?
"When first practicing this I would do the disclaimer at a normal pace make sure it had clear pronunciation, the gradually speed it up until it was at the right time needed and with no garbled words."
-Patrick M. Seymour
"Enunciate, starting volume louder, then end of sentence volume, so they know when a new thought/ line is starting, as it goes by FAST! Being a singer first, It's a rhythm thing for me, with enough changes in volume and inflection, you find a 'Flow!' then just GO!! The rest can be done in post!" -Mikaleen McClure
"I find working with tongue twisters to work on enunciation helps a lot. If you can rhyme off tongue twisters rather quick, then those disclaimers are a bit easier. Still find it odd how sometimes, the potential side effects are worse than the condition the medicine is made to treat." -Curtis Prebble
"A large lung capacity (deep breath and go!) and the ability to pronounce big medical words properly."
All good tips!
How Fast Can You Talk?
Are you a super fast talker? I'd love to hear from you and how you use your gift!
Be sure to comment on anything you found interesting as well.