Jonathan, but more so

Written by Jonathan Pagden

July 8, 2023

A thought inspired by voiceover artist Kathryn Vinclaire* talking about ‘personality’ in doing voiceovers.

‘Personality’ is something we know when we encounter it but it’s impossible to measure.

In my particular line of live events, making it clear (without ever actually saying it!) that I’m there in the room with them makes a huge difference.

It’s done by tiny bits of timing, tone of voice or reaction, that involves the audience in the ‘show’ rather than listening to something pre-recorded.

In a word – personality.

But more than that, I’ll often (usually!) be co-presenting with someone off the telly who is there purely because of their personality.

Their job is to be in the spotlight, to be entertaining, make small talk, pose for selfies and to give the audience a buzz. My job as the Voice is to complement however they’re doing that but not get in the way.

That involves being sensitive to the style of the event and the particular presenter, adapting in real-time and not letting my ‘personality’ collide with theirs.

That takes a particular sort of ego, which lots of people don’t realise they don’t have.

Thinking about this got me back into the misty lands of Years Gone By – when I was very new in the radio business I had a temporary boss who suggested I invent an on-air personality for myself, a different Jonathan to switch on when I entered the studio.

Eventually that boss went back to his usual job somewhere else and the regular boss came back, and he said he was surprised (well, actually I remember he used the word ‘appalled’) by that advice.

What he said to do instead was to turn myself up a notch or two when on-air, so what the listener heard was me, but just a bit more so.

Here’s me trying to do that!

That made a lot more sense, and I do it to this day to the point where it’s automatic. When I talk into a mic on a live event, what comes out is recognisably me, but more intensely.

So if we work together on a live event, don’t take it personally if I seem a bit, er, quiet. That’s the real me, but so is the “Amazing voice presence” (as one client put it) that the audience hears through the speakers.