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7 Ways to Tell If You Are Ready for Voice Overs

You've been toying with the idea of getting into voice overs for some time. Friends have mentioned your appealing voice, you enjoy talking and perhaps even putting on silly voices. 

Are you now ready to explore making money out of your vocal cords?

Here are seven ways to tell:

1. Listening

Have you noticed you have been more attentive to the voice overs on commercials? Does the gentle modulation of David Attenborough's engaging delivery on wildlife programmes intrigue you?

Maybe you are captivated by audiobook narrators and wonder how you could get into that kind of work or wondering what the steps are for being a voice on radio, TV, videogames and even the post office queue (cashier number 3 please). 

All this points to an interest in voice acting.

2. Training

You are considering taking a workshop or hiring the services of a voiceover coach. Here are couple of things you should be aware of:

  • Does the course/trainer have verifiable testimonials? If in doubt, ask to speak to a couple of attendees and find out about the success stories that have gone on to bigger and better things.
  • Make sure your tutor has real world experience of doing voice overs. Listen to some of their work and judge the standard for yourself - a great voicereel is a sign they know what they are on about.

3. Searching

You may have noticed you are viewing voice over videos on YouTube, particularly those that offer advice and helpful tips. Keep on doing it, you will be amazed at what you can learn. 

You are probably also doing lots of Google searches with the word 'voice over' in the query; again there are some great resources out there and the more you read and explore, the more informed you will become.

4. Dreaming About the Money

Ah the filthy lucre, but let's be honest it is one of the motivations for doing voice over work in the first place. However as I always say: have fun first and earn money second. It is fine to find out how much voice actors actually earn for various types of work, but bear in mind you have to enjoy doing voice overs in the first place. 

Still, everyone wants to see a return on their investment and you shouldn't be afraid of admitting this. 

5. You Love a Challenge

There is no getting away from the fact that voice acting requires talent. You need to be able to bring words to life and make a dull script sound full of life. Bringing sparkle and individuality to your delivery is a hallmark of a good voice over performance and you may be asked to sound conversational one minute, or formal and mannered the next.

So taking direction from your client or producer is essential.

If you enjoy learning new skills, then this could be the venture for you.

6. Technology - Friend or Foe?

One of those skills you need is the ability to record your voice over jobs. Scary eh? Or perhaps you see it as a fear to be conquered; you will certainly need to be able to produce a decent sound from your computer, but the great news is this will be very empowering, allowing you to work from home.

If the question of microphones has crossed your mind - you are thinking along the right lines. 

7. Suitability

We come to the biggest question of all; the one that will probably have crossed your mind more than any other: is my voice suitable for doing voice overs? The answer is not so much about whether you have the 'right' or 'wrong' voice because this is a subjective judgement, but what your attitude is like. 

If you are constantly making excuses for not giving voice overs a go, then you have probably answered your own question. 

Gary Terzza coaches beginners in voice overs at VOmasterclass based in London, England and via Skype.

Conversational Voice Overs: a Useful Guide

It is what many clients want these days, but how do you achieve that conversational style of read? 

In this video I take you through a few steps that will help you achieve a more informal, relaxed style when performing voice overs.

Here is the video transcript:

Gary Terzza:

In the last few years in voiceovers, there's been a move towards a more conversational, chatty, informal style, which is fine, but how do you achieve it?

Hello. Welcome along to my VO Master Class. It's the Holy Grail of a voiceover read. It is the conversational delivery. How do you achieve it? It's one of those elusive things that does escape some people, but other people seem to be able to do it, just like that. I want you today to listen to one of my students. It's Mark Thomas, and here he is doing a voiceover for Mathletics in association with UNICEF.

Mark Thomas:

Zimbabwe is home to over 30 million people. More than 72% of the population here live below the poverty line. At Mathletics, we believe no young person should go without an education. That's why we're proud to work in partners with UNICEF since 2014.

Gary Terzza:

It's a really natural, lovely read. Isn't it? It just seems to flow. It's as if Mark's chatting to us in a coffee bar somewhere, and he's just telling us all about Mathletics and about UNICEF, and I think that's very important. He's inhabiting the words, but he's also not hitting certain words too hard. Let's take a look at these words here. This is a corporate script, and I'm going to read it in a voiceovery way. These days, it's imperative to put your best digital foot forward by maintaining a positive online image. If you haven't thought about it before, perhaps it's time to take a hard, honest look at how you're managing your online reputation.

In my opinion, that's far too overdone really, and I think I can make it a bit more natural, a bit more informal, a bit more conversational. These days, it's imperative to put your best digital foot forward by maintaining a positive online image. If you haven't thought about it before, perhaps it's time to take a hard, honest look at how you're managing your online reputation. I think that's a much better way of doing it. It's more natural. It's lighter. I'm not trying to be Voiceover Man, which in fact, in the early days, I always used to be, and it never worked, and you end up sounding a bit like a radio DJ really.

It's getting to know the words and it's getting to know your voice, as well, and learning to relax into that voice and being comfortable with it, as well. Anyway, thanks very much for watching today. Look after your voice, and I'll see you next time.

Do you need a voice over agent?

When you are starting out in voice overs you may assume that the only way to get work is through an agent.

But this is not necessarily the case.

In this video I look at the pitfalls of representation and how you can access voice over jobs through other means.

My thanks to the clever infographics team at Direct Voices.

Why That Chocolate Ad is Spoiling Your Voice Over Showreel

Picture this: you are a voice over agent, it is Monday morning and you are itching to find out what the new week will bring. And there it is on your desk - your assistant has left a package containing what looks like a good old fashioned CD.

And why not, you think to yourself, everyone else may be communicating electronically, but here's a chance to hear a pristine quality showreel delivered differently. You open up the padded envelope taking out the silvery disc and then hunt around for a CD player.

The side of your Macbook Pro is smooth and does not contain any slots for physical media. You look around the office in vain.

In desperation you call your assistant.

He too has a search, peering under desks but doesn't seem to have much luck either, "we've updated all the computers to laptops" he says "the last CD played was that Robbie Williams album".

Then a light bulb goes on.

"Ah" he exclaims "I've got a player in my car" and off you both traipse to the multi storey down the road. "I'll get you a coffee while you're listening".  You nod approvingly and realise why you hired this super efficient colleague in the first place.

The voice coming from the Ford Fiesta's speakers is interesting. You are pleasantly surprised as this voice-over hopeful has an interesting sound; she's around 40, you estimate, with an edgy huskiness and intelligent, assured performance.

The first ad is about the importance of holiday insurance; knowing, contemporary and well paced - you warm to the voice even more. This could be just the talent you are looking for.

Then the second track makes your heart sink.

There it is in all its syrupy-ness, oozing saccharine and delivered in a gooey, hammy way: yep it's the dreaded chocolate commercial. "Mmmmm this is a chocolate bar to be lingered over....smooooth and creeeeeemy" the words drip on the floor of the car, putting you off your coffee.

"Sugar?" enquires your assistant "no thanks, my glucose levels are now high enough" you say with a sigh of resignation.

Leaving aside the issue of whether your demo should be on CD (I hope to cover this subject in a future post) I want to know what it is about voice over showreels and chocolate ads. Why do some people and some recording studios who should know better, insist on including them on a reel?

Let me tell you straight: such tracks are hackneyed, cliched and outdated.

Agencies and clients want to hear something new and fresh; they want to be surprised, thrilled and engaged not bored witless. Imagine spending your day listening to demos everyday and coming across these the same old stuff over and over again.

They also want you to demonstrate you have an idea of current voice over trends. If you still think the Cadbury Caramel bunny is what advertisers want, you are so last century. However lovely those ads were with their luscious Miriam Margolyes and Tara Flynn characterisations, they scream 'eighties and 'nineties.

If you fancy yourself as the seductive voice of the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate bar in the world you need a reality check.  This is not 1985.

Also, if you are just starting out in voice overs, I'll wager you won't be very good at soft sell commercials either. I say that through years of experience.... many beginners think a silky soft delivery is easy and will come naturally. It won't.

Pulling off that kind of read is not a piece of cake and most people need tons of practice in order to sound convincing and believable. In my years as a voice over coach I have heard so many examples of corny velvety/creamy performances and my advice to newbies is always the same; stay clear, until you have perfected this style.

So why are chocolate commercials prevalent on voice over demos?

I believe it is a mixture of misunderstanding and stereotyping. If someone tells you you have a voice 'like chocolate' it is perhaps understandable you assume you will be suitable for a TV ad about confectionary.

But the reality is very different. There are actually very few chocolate commercials on television:

The list is a real eye-opener isn't it? No Mars, no Cadburys (owned by Mondelez International) and not even my favourite Lindt makes an appearance.

Look at the top advertiser on British TV..... it is the television broadcaster, SKY. There is also a preponderance of soap powder/cleansing products thanks to their parent companies Unilever, Proctor & Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser, along with supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda.

But the sweet brown stuff is certainly not in the charts.

Look at the number of telecoms companies too: Virgin Media, TalkTalk, BT and their ilk. I can honestly say I have yet to hear a showreel featuring phone, TV or media ads and I've heard precious few burger, supermarket and toilet cleaning recordings.

Don't think your voice will be suitable for these products? Think again.

If you want to stand out from the crowd with your commercial reel do yourself a favour, ditch the chocolate and record a script from one of the products that companies really do advertise. The agents will find it a refreshing change.

What do you think about chocolate commercials on a showreel? 

Please let me know your thoughts below...

Voice Over Business Essentials: What The Experts Say

Being successful in voice overs means running an effective business. 

In this post I want to share with you some stellar advice given by the Voices of the Industry panel who came together to talk specifically about voiceover business management. Voice acting veteran Tommy Griffiths is your host exploring the following key areas:
  • Generating Business
  • Customer Service
  • Quoting Strategies
  • Marketing Tips

In the video you will hear various perspectives from industry professionals, who all provide their own unique insights into the biz. 

The five panelists explain how to attract those clients and provide winning promotional strategies. 

Plus there are helpful technical tips, along with indispensable advice about charging and steering your voice over business in the right direction. 

Let's meet the contributors

Debi Derryberry - one of Hollywood’s most active voice-over artists. She has voiced hundreds of cartoon characters and is best known for the voices of Jimmy Neutron, Draculaura on Mattel’s Monster High, and her work in Legends of Oz

Bryant Falk - has been a voice-over professional and on-camera commercial and corporate producer-director for over 20 years. Bryant has worked with clients such as Foot Locker, Bloomberg, Walmart, AMC, MTV, and the NBA.

Mindy Williamson -  teaches a voice development course for broadcast journalists at Fanshawe College and coaches on public speaking and presentation skills.

Jordan Wiberg - has a background as a studio engineer. He has coached and produced demos for many people over the years and works out of his home studio near Vancouver.

Kim Handysides - started in theatre, radio, and her voice has been used on multiple award-winning commercials, business and eLearning project and even a Cannes-nominated animated short film.

Moderator Tommy Griffiths  - has produced demos for nearly 500 voice artists worldwide. He produces and hosts commercial podcasts and voice-tracks radio shows for stations across the U.S. Tommy is also a home recording studio consultant.

So grab yourself a coffee and settle back for an informative and invaluable guide to managing your voice over business.