About Me

Former university lecturer in linguistics (University of Surrey)

PhD Phonetics specialising in the effects of emotional arousal on natural speech (University of Reading)

MA TEFL/TESOL Specialising in the meaningful & expressive use of intonation in English (University of Birmingham)

BA (Hons) German & Linguistics (University of Exeter)

GCSE Chinese (A*)

Certificate of Proficiency in the Phonetics of English (International Phonetic Association)

Producer of professional-quality audio for decades

Expert at both the technical and human sides of voiceover

My Studio

Interface: Audient iD4

Microphones: Lewitt LCT 440 Pure (large condenser), Audio-Technica AT-2020 (side address condenser), Synco D2 (shotgun), Shure SM58 (dynamic) and many more...

Studio Monitors: Presonus Eris 3.5 Gen 2

DAWs: Reaper, iZotope RX9 Audio Editor, Audacity

Processing Software and Plugins: iZotope, Waves, Cockos, Sonnox...

Acoustically Treated Recording Booth


Always keen to stay at the top of the game, I invest in regular voiceover coaching, both face-to-face and in group sessions with my voiceover colleagues, and have to date completed the following professional development courses:

Voiceover for Beginners - Gravy for the Brain - 2022

How to Voice Commercials - Gravy for the Brain - 2022

How to Compress Vocal Recordings - Gravy for the Brain - 2022

Voice Training and Voice Over Essentials to Work from Home - Voiceover Masterclass by Peter Baker - 2022

Audio Production for Screencasts, Voice Over & Audiobooks - René Steiner - 2023

How to Voice Audiobooks - Gravy for the Brain - 2023

How to Create Amazing Demo Reels - Gravy for the Brain - 2023

Audio Production for Screencasts, Voice Over & Audiobooks - Voiceover Masterclass by Peter Baker - 2023

Advanced Voiceover to Professional Standard - Gravy for the Brain - 2023

Voiceover for Gaming - Gravy for the Brain - 2023

Character Acting for Voiceovers - Gravy for the Brain - 2023

Improve your Casting Chances - Gravy for the Brain - 2023

How to Negotiate - Gravy for the Brain - 2023

How to Build a Home Recording Studio - Gravy for the Brain - 2024

How to Self-Direct - Gravy for the Brain - 2024

How to Build a Successful Voiceover Business - Gravy for the Brain - 2024

My Academic Background and Voiceover

My academic background in Linguistics and Phonetics informs and guides all my work in voiceover. I believe it is relevant both to my clients, in understanding my work and the way I tackle my performances, and to other voiceover artists, as it provides a useful descriptive framework for working with spoken discourse.

My studies at Masters level at the University of Birmingham, where I was taught principally by Richard Cauldwell of Speech in Action, was informed by the work of David Brazil. David Brazil proposed the descriptive model Discourse Intonation as a way of describing in a structured, replicable way, how we use intonation patterns and prominent words to signal new versus shared information at any point in spoken discourse, be this a conversation or a monologue.

Central to Discourse Intonation is an understanding of how we use intonation in English to signal continual changes in what is most important at any moment. When a new concept or idea is introduced the first time, it will be proclaimed as new information, given emphasis (prominence) and spoken with a falling tone. Once the idea has been introduced, it is then no longer new information and becomes instead shared information or common knowledge. From then on it will typically no longer be proclaimed but will be referred to, without prominence and with non-falling intonation.

As discourse proceeds, what is new information or common ground continually changes as the context of interaction changes and what was new a moment ago becomes shared information now, and prominent word placement changes.

Applied to voiceover work, this informs the choice of which words to make prominent (in VO terms, "hitting" particular words) at any particular moment. This is not a trivial matter at all, and often goes beyond the text on the page to consider the wider context of what might be expected to be known by the audience or interlocutor. Getting it right - particularly knowing which words NOT to make prominent - brings a text to life.

With the right words de-emphasised, the audience feels that you are taking their prior knowledge into account as you speak, which makes them feel included, part of the conversation. Getting it wrong - emphasing all the key words without consideration for the listener - can be disastrous. It leads to a boring performance in which the listener feels ignored, even treated as a fool(!) - because their previous knowledge is being ignored.

Following my Masters degree, I studied for my PhD at the University of Reading, investigating the more slippery subject of the effects of emotional arousal on speech. For this I took the unusual and ambitious step of using real, unscripted, emotional speech rather than the actors' portrayals almost unversally used in the field up until my study.

What came out of the study was how very context-specific vocal cues to emotional expression are, and how specific to particular types of interaction. I argued that we can never actually know whether emotions we think a person is feeling are genuine or not. As humans we have the ability to control, exaggerate, or disguise our emotions, so two people may react in different ways to exactly the same event, according to many factors including age, experience, personality, training, etc. This study involved analysing, and mimicking, a vast amount of emotionally-coloured speech, and became almost a course in acting in its own right - but with a solid descriptive framework underpinning it.

Put together, my expertise in discourse intonation and emotional speech studies, combined with my expertise in voice recording, give me a unique and very practical, grounding in how to create voiceovers which are both technically excellent and appropriate for their purpose. Contact me at richard@richardstibbard.com to discuss your next project!

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