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The Voice Over Talent Checklist

Recording a voice over is easy, right?

Professional voice over talent can make their job look (and sound) easy.
How hard can it be to stand in front of a microphone, read a script with light and shade in the right tone, and make it sound like you’re not actually reading, regardless of the read style requested?

And if the client is on the line directing the voice over session, how hard can it be to do all that while listening to and responding to their direction?

Pretty hard, as it turns out.

A voice over session at Abe's Audio

We receive dozens of emails and voice over demos from people every month.
While a few demos are really good (and make our shortlist), many are from people who’ve been told by a friend that ‘they have a great voice and should do voice overs.’

So, if you’re considering submitting a sample of your voice work, think about this checklist before you send the email.

  1. Do you have regular, daily access to a voice over booth?

Our clients send us scripts from wherever they are; whether they’re in their office in Melbourne or working from home in Caloundra.
So, the voiceover talent we work with doesn't need to attend a local studio. And because we’re passionate about meeting client deadlines no matter how tight they are, we carefully manage the availability of all voices who record for us.

As a result, voiceover talent who work with us need regular access to a good quality, acoustically-dead voice over booth.
If you don't have a booth, there are lots of options for purchasing or building a voice booth - a quick Google search will start your journey.

  1. What experience do you have recording commercials and narrative scripts?

While having a voice booth is the first step to being able to physically record voiceovers, if you don’t have experience in actually doing them, press pause. It’s not enough to have a booth or a great-sounding voice that your friends love. In fact, that’s only part of the picture. Voice talent need to be able to interpret a script and how to get ‘inside’ it to convey its meaning.

There’s no shortcut for experience. The more scripts you read, the better you’ll get.
Even our most popular and experienced voice talent are constantly looking for ways they can improve, and they welcome constructive criticism.

If you’re just starting out on your voice over journey, BEFORE you send a demo, start by reading scripts. And then reading more. And then, read some more.

Even if you’re simply recording yourself with your phone, practice makes perfect.

  1. Can you read a script without sounding like you’re reading it?

This might sound easy but in practice is actually quite difficult, and it’s what separates average voice over talent from great talent. Reading the script and making it sound like you’re telling a story is a skill that can take time to develop. 

From a hard-sell radio commercial to a narrative explainer video, regardless of the read style, the voice over should not sound like it’s being read verbatim from a script. This is where experience shows - if you’ve read lots of scripts, you’ll understand where to inject light and shade, which words to lean on, and which should be ‘swallowed’ for less emphasis.

  1. How do you respond to client direction?

Our voice over talent are often requested to do directed sessions via Zoom audio with our clients (and their clients.)
As such, sometimes there can be upwards of 4 people in the session listening to a read and providing feedback to the voice.

Being able to deliver a great read under pressure and respond to client feedback is important. Again, this is where experience helps.

  1. Are you flexible and easy to work with?

So, you’ve got the booth, the experience, and the skill. Great. But how flexible and easy are you to work with?  Some of our best talent - who you’d think could have the biggest egos - are actually the most humble.
In fact, I think there’s often (not always) an inverse correlation between the level of talent and the size of the ego.
Voice over talent who are flexible and easy to work with seem to get the most work.

We’re always looking for great voice talent who might fill a specific need in our lineup, but if the voice doesn’t tick these boxes, we’re unlikely to add them to our shortlist.

So, before you submit your voice over demo to us, think about this checklist before you click send.

Abe Udy

Abe is the founder of Abe's Audio and started the business in 1998 from his bedroom with an old computer, fax machine, dial-up internet, and a microphone in his wardrobe. Today, he leads a team that provides audio production and voice overs to media, agency, eLearning, video & creative clients around Australia and beyond.

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