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Pushing & Pulling

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

Push harder and pull back. Two contradictory directions that are key to developing good voice over skills.

Delivering persuasive voice over comes down to one simple thing: is the voice believable? Remember, the most believable voice in the eyes of the client will always take the gig! Landing on believability can be tough, and in many ways can be easier for someone new to voice than someone seasoned to it, but if you expect or hope for longevity in this industry, you must seek to acquire the ability to be believable across all your voicing mediums.

The following concept is a little abstract based on a feeling and instinct developed across my years of voice over, and was an important realization along my journey.


Pulling back when trying to hit a certain emotional tone is often just what the VO director ordered.

Voice in many ways is like a tug of war between various attributes, with the flag in the middle of the tug of rope attempting to be centered within the threshold of believability, push or pull to far in any direction and you will find yourself outside that threshold.

Of course a key difference is there aren't two participants, just you alone pushing and pulling your voice in a direction to find that appropriate balance.

So what's the difference? Pushing often is what gets you toward the threshold of the character and attitude you need, but often comes with the risk of resulting in a theatrical read. Pulling, instead, is found in the act of returning to your true self and a more natural read as you would in real life.

Thus the process of pushing toward a character like read and emotion, and then pulling the read back to a more natural self oriented read is a key mechanism in landing within the threshold of believability. And this is truly a constant tug of war requiring technical mindfulness and emotional attentiveness.

All voice actors should keep this in mind, whatever your push may be sometimes if you are having difficulty connecting to text, all you got to do is pull back a bit!

Note: As a side, often when we are first starting in voice over we only understand or are taught to push. This will result in voice actors becoming hyper polished in their deliveries and thus not as believable (i.e. you will become a voice in a box rather than a human expressing an opinion).


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