Reading and riding

This week among other things, I have been revving my bike.

That wasn’t a metaphor – I have literally been running the engine on my motorcycle.

It’s off the road at the moment and, until I get round to carrying out the things I need to do, the best I can achieve is to fire her up, give it some throttle, wait until the fan comes on – and then come into the house ‘stinking of fumes’.


I often find that talking to people about my love of motorcycles brings out two distinct reactions:

The first results in the person I am talking to using words like ‘death trap’ and ‘lunatics’

We’ll call this group ‘against’.

The second reaction ranges from general good-natured banter about interesting long trips on bikes, to conversation about how the particular person is ‘not on a bike at the moment’ but they did have a Honda C50 in 1975.

Still, it’s positive chat nonetheless.

We’ll call this group ‘for’. 

There have been occasions where I have been running presentations or the like, and the mention of bikes has entirely split a room.

If you are reading this, and in the ‘for’ group – I am sure you know that bikers range massively from total idiots, through to cool dudes, and various subdivisions in between.

Yes, riding a motorcycle is dangerous – and statistically you are more likely to come off worse if you have a crash, than you if are in a car. However, you’re even more likely to have a crash if you don’t know – and respect – your limitations. As motorcyclists, we have to take responsibility for the fact that we are less visible, move faster and – frankly – are at the bottom of the food chain for many drivers when it comes to consideration for other road users.

You may be in the right as you slam across the bonnet of the half-asleep driver that pulled out in front of you, but being in the right is little consolation when you’re in a wheelchair for the rest of your life – or worse. So we have to ride assuming someone is gonna be a d**k and we have to anticipate the appropriate action.

And most bikers do.

However, like most car drivers, I have no respect for the whacko bunch who, at the first sign of sunshine don their full race leathers (despite it still being freezing – if you’re cold, your reactions are slow) and set about dangerously overtaking everything they can in some misguided belief that they are invincible – completely forgetting that they’re actually invisible.

You never stop learning

I’ve been riding motorcycles for longer than I’ve been doing voiceover – much longer.

So what on earth could VO possibly have to do with motorbikes?

Before I began VO I perceived the role as relatively benign and not involving much of a level of complexity really – what could be so hard about shouting ‘SALE’ into a microphone?

Understanding now about what’s actually involved, I know that VO is a craft which even those who have the ‘years’ on me in the business say they are ‘still learning’ – and that you never ‘stop learning’.

I really admire what the longer serving VO’s do – and indeed have done, which makes them the adroit artisans they are today.

I have only relatively scratched the surface – but as a VO ‘insider’ (I hope the VO community will permit me to call myself that) every day is about developing the craft, making mistakes, finding out what works – and what doesn’t.

Fortunately if I make a mistake in VO I’m not likely to sustain life threatening injuries – well not unless I drop my mic whilst recording in the bath maybe – but it does give me a really exciting opportunity to do something that stimulates me while I work.

When riding a motorcycle, you are entirely at one with the machine – what you do with your body affects the bike – and what the bike does affects you.

Voicing is not dissimilar – what you say affects the read, and the read affects what you say.


And then there’s the machinery – you don’t need the latest equipment to create the most rich and rewarding of vocal pieces, any more than you need the latest bike to have an awesome ride.

For non bikers – an awesome ride is one where you hit that sweet spot of you and the machine perfectly carving a slice through a sweeping curve, leaned over, rubber immaculately engaged with tarmac, with the sun just in the right spot and the air sweet with the smell of the season – all whilst wearing a massive grin.

For non VO’ers – an awesome read is where you connect with the words in a way that brings the whole thing to life, you’re inhaling the concept, vividly exhaling the narrative, living the piece totally connected.

Symbiosis again, in harmony, in tautology. 

If you’re a biker – enjoy the season and I hope you keep it rubber down.
If you’re a VO-er, enjoy the reading, and I hope you’re able to keep the noise floor down.
If you’re both – which service station are we gonna meet up at?

Right – enough of that, I’m gonna put my helmet on, and go and record the sound of my voice, and then ask Gary to help me work out why I always sound muffled.

Have a GREAT day



7 thoughts on “Reading and riding

  1. Debby Barnes

    “…an awesome read is where you connect with the words in a way that brings the whole thing to life, you’re inhaling the concept, vividly exhaling the narrative, living the piece totally connected.” There were a few things I could’ve quoted in this blog, SteveO. But this one is a winner.

    PS: My father had a Triumph 500 back in the day. 🙂

  2. Mike Broderick Voice Over

    Hi Steve: Good post. It makes me wonder: Who’s the voice of Harley Davidson? (On the bike side my Dad took up riding well in middle age. He had a fast bike – a Honda Magna. His theory is that a fast bike is a safer bike, as you have a better ability to get out of trouble. On the VO side, while I don’t try to voice faster, I try to limit my number of takes to a reasonable number as a way of strengthening my cold reading ability.

    1. steveoneillvoice Post author

      Hey Mike – thank you so much for your response, gives me real encouragement to know people are reading the blogs.

      I really like your philosophy on reading cold – I also read somewhere recently a tip about reading a script too many times makes it sound false, I find that happens to me.

      I will try your technique!

      Thanks again – very appreciated


  3. Pingback: 10 Top Voiceover Blog PostsThis Week - April 13, 2014 | Derek Chappell's Voiceover Blog

  4. Rob Marley

    I started riding a sweet Intruder Volusia edition – had it three months before someone pulled out in front of me. Thankfully the bike took the majority of the damage. I’m now on an SV650 and couldn’t be happier.

    And since I’m also a voice artist, you and I are “brothers of the wind” in a couple of different ways!

    1. steveoneillvoice Post author

      Hey Rob,

      Thank you for taking the trouble to comment – I really appreciate it.

      That’s not cool that some dumba** did that to you – hope you didn’t receive any long lasting damage.

      I like that ‘Brothers of the wind’ – we will have to start up another G+ community – VO’s who ride HA HA.

      Thanks again for commenting – have a great day



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