Have you ever told your dog to “go outside” or to “go potty,” and she just stood there staring at you? Or, maybe you’re one of those people whose dog obeys your every command and eagerly anticipates your telling him what to do. You might even be able to get your cat to listen to you.
It’s no secret that how we use our voices determines how people (and pets) respond to us. When it comes to choosing whom to trust, whom to follow, or even whom to elect, research has demonstrated that men and women across the board demonstrate a preference for the deeper versions of voices from both sexes.
According to Casey Klofstad, associate professor of political science at the University of Miami, who conducted one such experiment regarding public perception of the voices of people running for office, “That’s because we get the impression that lower-voiced individuals have more integrity, competence and physical power.” Today’s article is all about how you can capitalize on the power and authority of the deep voice.
The Voice You Trust
There is one man whose voice is so deep, smooth, calm, and authoritative that he could make hairballs compelling. That man is Morgan Freeman--documentary narrator, character actor, and voice of God. Freeman’s voice held us spellbound by the drama of penguins’ lives in his narration of the Academy Award winning documentary March of the Penguins. As the voice of God in the Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty movies, as well as the narrator of the National Geographic series The Story of God with Morgan Freeman, he has become the voice we trust to navigate the unknown and the mysterious.
Morgan Freeman was born June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee. One of four children, he was raised in Mississippi, Indiana, and Illinois. Though Freeman enjoyed acting in school plays, he didn’t decide to go into acting right away. When he graduated high school in 1955, Freeman turned down a partial drama scholarship from Jackson State University and instead enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. In 1959, he left the Air Force and moved to Los Angeles to study acting at the Pasadena Playhouse and Los Angeles City College.
How to Deepen Your Voice: Yawn!
Freeman credits an acting teacher at Los Angeles City College with teaching him to speak with such clear diction. He credits yawning for his deep, resonant voice. In an interview with On Demand Entertainment in 2011, Morgan Freeman explained that one way to accomplish a deeper voice is to “yawn a lot.” He said “It relaxes your throat, your vocal chords, and as soon as they relax, the tone drops. The lower your voice, the better you sound.”
Sounding better is what we all want, so to get your own beautifully rich, deep voice, you should practice rest, yawning, and deep breathing to keep you relaxed and to support your speech. The fact is, many, if not most, of us tend to sound tight, strained, and thin-voiced due to tension. Physiological tension in our throats leads to a smaller, closed-off sound and vocal fry. Freeman says “I learned in school that most people speak in a higher register than normal because of tension. So the trick is to relieve the tension.” And that means relaxation exercises and yawning. A lot.
For some ideas on how to relax your body and expand your range in warming up for voice over each day, check out my video The Ultimate Warm up for Voice Acting. And remember these three things:
When you’re the one with the flowing, resonant voice, people will listen, and they’ll believe in you. Morgan Freeman commands so much confidence and credibility, in fact, that in 2010 he replaced Walter Cronkite as the intro voice for the CBS Evening News and special reports.
It’s Not Just the Voice; It’s the Message
Finding your own way to capitalize on the Morgan Freeman voice is not just about learning to deepen and smooth out your voice so others will listen, however. It’s also about internalizing the power of his message. In the Lego Movie, Freeman voices the role of Vetruvius, who tells Emmet that anything is possible as long as he believes. This sounds a lot like one of Morgan Freeman’s own quotes: “This is one of the truths of the universe, and you heard it first from here: whatever we decide we want to do is what we do.”
In other words, if we want it badly enough, we’ll find a way to do it and to make it happen. We can get people to believe in our voice if we believe in our own abilities and if we fuel our passions. It’s a good reminder for aspiring and seasoned voice actors as we apply ourselves to our craft. Sometimes the anxiety over whether we’re good enough is the thing that tenses us up. It’s hard to relax when we’re stressing out and overthinking every interpretation of every script.
When I first started my voice over journey, I remember my wife, my parents, my wife's parents, and basically everyone I knew thought I was crazy. I remember feeling embarrassed to speak about what I was doing and also hiding my equipment from my wife's parents so they wouldn't say anything to me about my waste of time. I questioned everyday whether this was worth it or not. Over time, however, I stopped worrying so much about failing and I just kept doing what I knew I wanted to do.
As I figured out, through trial and error, what worked and what didn’t work to grow a voice over business, I began putting together my own courses and resources to share with others. I created the Vo’s Journey Elite Academy to help aspiring voice actors do what they want to do and succeed. In the Elite Academy, students participate in classes on:
Students learn how to think, what to do, and what their next steps should be to grow their voiceover business. Join us with a monthly membership that you can cancel anytime. If you sign up by midnight, you’ll also get my "Conversational Tone Voice Acting Course" and 75% off my "How To Make $20K On Fiverr For Voice Over.” Join us here.
Support Your Voice, Support Your Goals
As a voice actor, you shouldn’t have to go it alone battling the naysayers and your own inner demons like Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds. It doesn’t have to be you against the unknown in a battle of epic proportions! I would like to leave you with another message from Morgan Freeman: “Very often, you know, you stop walking because you say, ‘Well, I’m tired of climbing this hill. I’m never going to get to the top,’ And you’re only two steps from the top.”
Don’t stop now. If this is what you want, if this is your passion, I can show you how to get where you want to be. I hope you’ll join us, to deepen your voice, deepen your craft, and deepen your commitment to this joyful and creative career of voice acting.
1 Oaklander, Mandy. “Science Explains Why You Love Morgan Freeman's Voice.” Time.com, 23 February 2016, https://time.com/4233926/morgan-freeman-voice-waze-science/
2 Olsen, Ita. “How to Sound Like Morgan Freeman.” Conveyclearly.com, https://conveyclearly.com/2020/06/19/how-to-sound-like-morgan-freeman-in-4-steps/
3 “Top 20 Wisest Morgan Freeman Quotes to Inspire You to Aim Higher.” Goalcast.com, https://www.goalcast.com/top-20-wisest-morgan-freeman-quotes-to-inspire-you-to-aim-higher/