5 Things That Never Change in Voice Overs

Posted on July 23, 2009 by


Working online in voice overs is definitely a new way of getting voice over work. However, there are basic principles to the voice over industry that have not changed during the transitions in technology over the years. Whether your first demo was on a reel, tape, CD or MP3, there has been no change in the following:

You always need a great demo that shows you at your best
It is easy to say such a thing to a voice talent just starting. It is usually followed by the question, ‘Well, what makes a great demo?’. The best thing you can do for yourself, if you are in the initial stages your voice over career:

  • Pay attention to voice overs you hear on TV, radios, movies, websites etc.
  • Decide what you like, record it, save it, etc., and remember why liked it.
  • Hold yourself to that high standard of quality sound, and copy reading.

Why? These talented folks you enjoyed listening to, will be competing with you always. Do not worry. That is a good thing! Their demos are amazing, and that is the standard you want to hold yourself to always. If you commit to high standards, one day, you will then find yourself meeting the very people that inspired you to do a voice over demo in the first place. Just today, I learned this Voice123 talent, Ed Victor, did the voices on a product line of toys I bought for my nephew. Small world!

You have to know how to read copy
This comes with practice, and when you feel you have nailed it, you have to keep practicing to stay sharp, almost like a pro athlete who does not stop working out just because he signed with a pro team. You have to stay competitive!

‘Reading voice over copy’ goes beyond just ‘reading it & sounding like a voice over talent.’ Your voice is your product, so you have to shape your product into what ‘they’ need. You have to learn how to be flexible, open-minded, and original, and yes, at times know what they want, even when they do not say it. Remember, not everyone truly knows what they want, until they hear it. This comes with dedication, practice, and coaching. Lani Minella is one example of a voice over coach in the videogame industry whom I met through Voice123. She is extremely flexible at reading copy, and knows how to teach talents all about it what she does. Oddly, I have been listening to her for years, but only found out ‘the name behind the voice’ when I started working here.

Succeeding takes dedication, patience and a positive attitude
This is perhaps a ‘rule of thumb’. I believed it when I started out in voice overs many years ago. When I came back into it again with online casting, it still applied. I understand it is easy to write it or say it, but how do you do it? Try this:

  • Surround yourself with great, hard working, positive voice talent, and positive environments.
  • Save voice over industry professionals’ work that inspires you.
  • Stay away from conversations that lead you to negative feelings or actions. Negative thoughts are incredibly easy to focus on because being positive takes hard work & dedication. The fact that voice talent basically apply for jobs everyday, makes a positive focus a necessity! Even on those ‘rainy days’, focus on the positive conversations that remind you of the reasons why you want to do voice overs.
  • Most importantly, believe you can do it. After all, you are what you believe you are, and because of this, you can become anything you want.

The importance of being ‘down to earth’
Be it online casting or walking into an agent’s office where you first meet ‘the watchdog’, you must always put the feeling out there that you are a voice talent, who will be a pleasure to work with. Granted, online you actually have to display this by what you write and your demo.
As well, working online is all about having a ‘brand’. If someone goes to your webpage to hear your voice over demo, they will see what you write, your headshot, and listen to how you sound. They will have these three things to know what makes you special.

In all my years, and in all my research into various businesses, I never once heard someone say, ‘You should have an attitude. They will love that!’. There is simply nothing more enjoyable than working with someone who is down to earth because he/she is talented, they know it, and they do not have anything to prove. ‘Attitude’ may get you a reality TV show, but your ’15-minutes of Fame’ starts counting down from there, until there is focus on what works for longevity of a career.

Doing ‘one thing’ to get work is still not enough
Online casting has succeeded in giving thousands of great voice talent, amazing amounts of exposure, yet being on a website is not enough exposure, if people do not know to find you there. Social media has exploded in recent months, and now you can find voice talent all over the web, doing videos on YouTube, ‘tweeting’, or discussing topics in voice over forums and Linkedin. The more exposure you give yourself, the better, BUT do not forget the basic rules above!

It is cheaper and easier to promote yourself than ever before. With that power, comes great responsibility. Promote your voice over product of ‘you at your best’ when it is ready to ‘hit the shelves’, so you are always positive and proud of what you are doing!

I hope your summer is going well!

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Steven Lowell
Public Relations Manager
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Twitter: @stevenNYC123