Pay Attention To Your Storytelling, Not Removing Your Breaths

Hey there!

I often get email asking me for advice on how to delete all the breaths from VO work.

I understand how it’s possible that someone would think that’s necessary, but I’m on a mission to debunk that myth.

Your natural breathing, and the listener hearing you breathe, is essential. And I urge you to attend to more pressing matters: your storytelling.

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Hope this helps!


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Raw YouTube Captioning

hey it’s David H Lawrence the 17th and
today I want to talk to you about
another email that I got that’s actually
indicative of a lot of emails that I get
a client called me she’s just starting
off her work on voice over in audiobooks
and she’s like which deep breath er
should I get which plug-in should I get
that will remove all of my breaths from
my audiobooks and I wrote her back and I
said why do you think you have to remove
all your breaths from your audiobooks
and she said well I I thought you did I
understand and there’s a couple of
mentions of it on a cxas website about
taking out breaths but I want to
disabuse you of that notion if you’re
just starting off you may have this urge
to sanitize your work to get rid of
breaths and little tiny foibles
certainly with audiobooks you want to be
precise but when you’re dealing with you
know commercials or you’re dealing with
animation or you’re dealing with things
that are not as word-for-word perfect or
as precise as audiobooks or you know
eLearning etc where you have a little
bit of colloquial work to it you don’t
want to be you know making it overly
formal and with audiobooks you also
don’t want to be removing breaths now
there’s a school of thought that says
you have to remove but nobody ever hears
breasts and the truth of the matter is
that that’s not the case and I’d like to
share with you an example of that and it
happens to be one very close to home
let’s take a look at the blog of find
away voices which is one of the one of
the places that I do work for so this is
a blog post by the casting director the
lead casting director at find away
voices and the title is autumn 2018 our
casting directors favorite audiobook
productions and the nice thing is kind
of talks about you know she wants to
share a few of her favorites and the
very first one she wants to share is one
by me leverage learning by Danny any
friend of mine
a book that’s very much an indictment of
the current secondary and post-secondary
education system and she says down here
why I loved it
she says David H Lawrence’s performance
was incredibly engaging his deep calming
voice tone excuse me in equal measure
draws the readers in blah blah blah and
it’s great but I’d like you to listen to
a little bit of it and tell me what you
hear the Stanford 2025 project of
reimagining the future of Education for
example predicts that the current four
years during the ages from eighteen to
twenty-two will be replaced by six years
spread over a lifetime this transition
so I count five breaths
already and I’m hoping that as you’re
listening to it you’re drawn into the
story and you’re not thinking about the
breaths okay so there’s a lot of boys a
lot of breaths in there don’t you think
and I’m doing okay I’m pretty far along
in my career and I’ve got some success
under my belt and I am not worried one
bit about removing breaths now there may
be people who watch this video that are
narrator’s of audiobooks that are just
horrified by the fact that I leave
breaths in I didn’t take one breath out
not one there may have been a point
where I’ve edited one piece to another
piece and I edited off the breath of the
last part and onto the breath of the
first part but I never ever took a
breath out specifically just to take a
breath out and I certainly would never
deep breath my work taking all the
breaths out what happens is people
notice it as you’re reading to them as
you’re narrating and they start to get
nervous because they wonder when you’re
going to breathe it’s Syria I don’t know
what to say about this other than I hear
it all the time and I think that there
may be this situation going on where
you’ve heard rumors that you have to be
absolutely perfect and precise in your
work now there’s something to be said
for being good at what you’re doing and
being professional
and in some cases perfect and precise in
another cases a little bit more
colloquial if the line is I don’t know
and the character and the story calls
for it there’s no reason why you can’t
say instead of I don’t know you could
say I don’t know or you could say I
don’t know or you could say I don’t know
all of them are versions of I don’t know
but they’re different and some of them
have breaths involved some of them have
slides into certain sounds my point here
is don’t worry about the breaths worry
about the story nobody is going to
notice and people are going to actually
be relieved if they hear you breathing
now if you’ve got some sort of
congestion going on or you’ve got asthma
or you’ve got some sort of over-the-top
breathing that’s one thing but don’t
make the mistake of hearing your breaths
and becoming your own worst enemy
thinking oh those breaths are horrifying
they’re absolutely horrified they’re not
they’re not I’ve been breathing the
whole time I’ve been talking to you have
you been worried that I haven’t deep
breath to my work no so don’t worry
about the breaths worried about the
story okay terrific so I’d like to know
what you think have you gone to great
lengths to take all the breaths out of
things what does that left you with or
are you worried that maybe you should be
that you need a plug-in or something let
me know in the comments below what you
think of what I’ve just said here and in
the meantime if you want to see the
latest videos that I’ve done you can try
the one there in the upper left hand
corner of your screen and if you want to
subscribe to this channel to find out
when the the next video is going to be
released you can go ahead and click on
my head or find the subscribe button
somewhere on the page happy to help you
out there i’m david h Lawrence the 17th
thank you so much for watching and I’ll
talk to you tomorrow

16 Responses to Pay Attention To Your Storytelling, Not Removing Your Breaths

  1. Bethany Arrington January 22, 2019 at 6:23 am #

    I take my breaths out between takes for commercial auditions when I got back and string it all together. Lately almost everyone has been asking for two takes. How many seconds should be in between takes and after your slate/intro before you begin? I’d love your opinion.

    • David H. Lawrence XVII January 22, 2019 at 12:14 pm #

      In both cases, I recommend a beat – 2-3 seconds. Just enough to make sure there’s a moment between elements.

  2. Christina January 22, 2019 at 6:26 am #

    This is so helpful! I definitely have been self concious about breaths in the past. Deleting all breaths just makes the editing process more tedious.

  3. Michelle Marie January 22, 2019 at 6:39 am #

    Always a joy to learn from you. I am a leave breaths in type of narrator, but which breaths and what kind of breaths are determined by the work. On my textbook narration, I listen for loud breaths in editing and remove them, but leave in the quieter ones. In Audiobooks, my dialogue breaths are louder than the narration part, I’ve noticed, but I think that’s due to practice. People breathe, true fact. I once read a review in another person’s work that asked if they were a robot because they never breathed thru the work. There ya have it.
    Thank you for all you do!

  4. Susan Reinhardt January 22, 2019 at 6:51 am #

    I couldn’t agree more! Especially in audiobooks, when you are voicing something as a particular character, you will sound more human and believable..
    Thank you once again, for being humble and generous enough to help others achieve what seems to come so natural to you! I was always told from someone very wise; the more you give, the more comes back to you.

  5. Canelle Boughton January 22, 2019 at 7:29 am #

    What a relief! Thanks so much for sharing, David.

  6. Paula Faye Leinweber January 22, 2019 at 8:05 am #

    Thanks, David. I wish everyone who is interested in narrating would watch this video. I hear so much talk about this issue. What encouraged me about not trying to get rid of breaths or even about being a perfectionist about editing is listening to some audiobooks narrated by big names and published by big publishers. I hear mistakes from them, and lots of breathing. Barbara Rosenblat breathes very distinctly in her audiobooks (one of my favorite narrators!), so that really encouraged me too.

  7. Linda Roper January 22, 2019 at 8:25 am #

    Dear David, Thank you for this gem. ” It’s the story that counts. Breathe and be human.” I had forgotten, about being Human” I listen everyday , and I am so grateful that you care enough about us to share your knowledge.

  8. Paul H Rothfuss January 22, 2019 at 9:03 am #

    Hi David. “And besides, ‘no breaths’ is not the way people talk.” This was very helpful. Thank you.

  9. George Utley January 22, 2019 at 9:19 am #

    Love it! Reinforces what I’ve been doing all along. With some (not all) commercial applications I clip breathes (actually in Audacity I select them and drop the volume)…but not in audiobooks. The story is the thing!!

  10. Eugenia Care January 22, 2019 at 10:32 am #


  11. Christopher Buckner January 22, 2019 at 12:21 pm #

    I love this! I was more in the camp for taking out breaths, as well as figuring out when to breath, both from some very brief training I had prior to VO2GoGo. Your approach sounds much more natural. Focus on the storytelling and let the breath happen naturally. I love the simple and practical method of teaching in VO2GoGo.

  12. Patricia Napolitano January 22, 2019 at 9:56 pm #

    This would make editing so much easier! I worry a lot about breaths, I think my breathing is a little heavier and louder than most people’s. I have been taught by other vo teachers that breaths in audiobooks are ok because the characters might take breaths for some reason (been running, gasping, etc.) but that commercials and other short forms never have breaths!?!? I’ve been told that clients want very clean (breathless) voice tracks that do not interfere with effects and music.

  13. David H. Lawrence XVII January 22, 2019 at 10:43 pm #

    Almost everybody thinks their breathing is louder and heavier than others. And instead of concentrating on telling you to watch and get rid of the breaths, those people should’ve been telling you to concentrate on the story. There’s no requirement that breaths be taken out of commercial vocal tracks, or any others. They may be shortened by removing the breaths for time, but even that is done by an engineer, not you.

  14. Alexandra Harrington January 23, 2019 at 9:07 pm #

    Thanks David…and so far working on my first audio book I have only removed breaths when I have had to edit in pick-ups!

  15. Nicolocutor February 12, 2021 at 3:53 am #

    I am Spanish narrator and Publisher. I am making a test editing the breaths and some other with the breath. Results? The same thing. For that less editing work for me.

    thank you for this great video

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