Over the past year I have listened to over 2000 different voices, cast around 300 of them and recorded and edited them for clients in my role as both sound engineer and audio director. Being a voiceover talent is endlessly helpful in these sessions.
Being able to wear multiple hats is a great advantage because in this way I can fully appreciate the aims for each element that goes into producing great audio content for an audio production from a corporate video, an advert or an IVR message.
I am lucky to spend the day talking for a living but a key part of my work is spent listening as well. All the voices I spend the day listening to I also cast them for various projects. Then I often get to record them and direct the sessions. This past year I have gathered all the tips and tricks to ensure you are cast as a voice and deliver a good session;
- Reel - Have your voice at the start of the reel as soon as possible. When casting from a long list of voices, the longer the musical intro, the more likely I am to skip that reel and go to the next. I want to here your set of pipes not the composers. If you have real work on your reel, cut down and out any overly long audio that is not you.
Bespoke demo - When asked for bespoke demo, record and name the file exactly as the demo instructions have stated. A file that doesn’t conform to the naming instructions will often be deleted because if that isn’t saved correctly, will the same go for the session? Send it in quickly! First come first serve in many cases.
Read the copy - you’ve been cast, the job is booked and now you are in the booth. After spending my formative years, writing copy for L’Oreal I have written and seen my fair share of good and interesting copy. The copy is often being tweaked until the last moment. However once you get the copy read it out loud at least twice just to get your mouth and vocal cords used to the shape of them. In session, I can always tell if the voiceover artist has read it out loud or not or worse still not read the script at all! The clients I work with also can so ensure you arrive to the session with a read through already locked into your chops. If you get the script there and then read it out loud, there and then. Worry not about feeling awkward or embarrassed in front of clients, you need to articulate the copy so you sound great when I hit record.
Breathe - breathe and breathe some more! If you are serious about being a voice, you need to learn about and love your breathing mechanism. Ensure that you develop your breathing, develop a deep understanding of your diaphragm. Take classes, work the exercises as if it is a gym class. When you get long copy, you should be able to either deliver effortlessly or break it down with breathing spots which not only work for the copy but also in places that the audio engineer can easily edit. Sloppy breathing, half breathes mean you will tire easily, the copy will not be read with the correct flow and the session will take longer making it inefficient. A loss of flow means a loss of intention and structure. If you are nervous breathing correctly will ensure cleaner calmer reads.
Listen - Many inexperienced voices are so eager to read the copy they forget to read the copy vocally and authentically. It is as if it is an inconvenience and if they read it quickly the session will end sooner. Listen to the client, the director and sound engineer. Yes your role as a voiceover is to talk. But a huge part of the job is actually to listen. What did they say about the pace? The tone? The cadence? What words must I hit? What should I not hit? Should it be a tickle or full upward inflection.
Be ready, be steady, be vocal.