Whether it's a commercial or narration project, I always try to pull a personal experience out of my performance. This should be something you're passionate about. Something happy, funny, or sad that happened to you.
It's easy to pick up a script and read it, thinking your voice is good enough to make the message sound genuine and plausible. The talents who book are the ones who do the research and study the message in the copy before recording it. Get as familiar with the product or business as possible. What is the marketing objective of the message? Are there specific words in the scripts that need to be more accentuated than others?
Let's talk PSAs; If I am recording a PSA for the American Cancer Society or an animal shelter, I don't rush to get the project finished. First, I read through the script to see if I could bring a personal experience to the performance. I have many with these two particular topics. For the American Cancer Society PSA, I've lost a few friends and relatives to cancer, and I try to think of the fight and struggles. Conveying a message like this in a PSA is more than just reading the lines in a serious tone. You have to put some passion and personal experience into it. It will make a massive difference in your performance. Of course, it's always a plus to have the client directing you during the recording but take the time to find the right emotion for this performance.
When I get booked to play a character in a commercial, I do the same thing. I try to pull from personal experiences and zero in on a current or distant relative who could be similar to the character I am portraying. For example, I was booked to play a silly Uncle at the dinner table on Thanksgiving. This was easy for me. I AM that silly Uncle. Haha! I also have several relatives that easily fit this description. This client wanted a goofy character who couldn't stop talking and consistently laughed at his own jokes using a burst of animated and boisterous laughter!
A solid voiceover performance is more than just having a good voice and reading the words in a script. Who are you? Who are you speaking to? Does whoever you're speaking to believe you? Are you in a park? Are you on a busy city street? Are you talking to college kids? Are you talking to seniors? Are you sad? Are you happy? Are you quirky? Are you flabbergasted?
Whether it's a commercial, narration or character performance, all of these questions are in play when delivering a conversational and convincing performance.