Voice Over Pro Tips

Quick, easily digestible tips for voiceover talent relating to performance, recording, marketing, auditioning, and business.

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Compare your Audio Quality to the Pro's - 6/30/17

Among the many areas of your VO business that should be reviewed regularly, perhaps the most important is your audio quality.

While your actual performance and read are more important in the hierarchy of things when it comes to landing jobs and impressing clients, the quality of your audio is still a major factor. A great way to review it and make sure it is up to par with the top pro's out there, is to compare it directly to their audio.

What you want to do is obtain some of their processed audio without any music or sound effects, just VO. The best places to find this are in their Narration or E-Learning Reels. You can likely download a copy of these reels from either their personal site, or a P2P profile. If you can't find it in either, you can shoot them a quick message asking if they wouldn't mind sending you a piece of audio. Most talent are very welcoming and happy to help other talent.

Once you have a sample of their audio, you can import it directly into your recording software, and play it back to back with some of your final processed audio. Make sure you import their audio, and then import some of your own finished audio, directly on to a clean track with no additional processing, this way you are doing a fair 1-to-1 comparison. Both your audio and their audio are playing back the exact same way.

It's best to listen in a quiet room with some good studio headphones, so you can do some real critical listening. Listen for things like Volume Level, Tonal Quality (Bassiness or Trebleness), Mouth Sounds, and Background Noise. How does your audio stack up? Make some notes on what can be improved, and then get to work!


Use a Wired Internet Connection for Live Sessions - 6/23/17

If you perform Live Directed Sessions over the internet with a client listening in, the quality and reliability of that session and your connection to the client are vital. One way to improve these sessions is by making sure to use a wired internet connection as opposed to wireless or Wi-Fi.

A wired internet connection is more secure and less prone to drops in signal quality or disconnection issues. You will also likely see a great increase in both your upload and download speeds when using a wired connection vs. a wireless one. All you need is a simple Ethernet cable which can be found quite inexpensively these days at places like Best Buy, Target, or Walmart, or online at places like Amazon. Then simply plug one end of the cable into the ethernet port on your computer or laptop, and the other end directly into your router.

If you are currently using a wireless connection, google the words "Speed Test" to run Google's free internet speed test and make note of your results. Then plug in through a wired connection and run the speed test again and you should see a noticeable improvement. Higher upload and download speeds mean the audio information being sent between you and your client during a live session will be much higher quality and safer from drops and degradation. Try this out if your not already and good luck on your next live session!


Keep Track of where your Demos are Listed - 6/16/17

As you advance in your VO career, you will no doubt start to have a web presence in more and more places and have your demos featured on more and more sites. Be it your Agency's website, P2Ps, Voiceover Databases, Your Personal Site, or Production Company Rosters, your demos will live in multiple places online and it is important that you keep track of all of them.

You always want to make sure that when someone discovers you, they are seeing you as you currently are and hearing your most up to date demos, you don't want people discovering your demos from years ago and passing over them to the next talent, when in reality you are much improved from what those demos show. Therefore, when you update your demo reels, you should make sure that they get updated everywhere they are featured online.

A good idea is to keep a list in a tool such as Evernote, or some other notetaking/recordkeeping app or software. You can call it something like "Voiceover Demo Listing Locations" and just keep a bullet point list of every website where your demo is featured, or every person/company who should be informed when your demos are updated. This way, when you create new reels, you have a go-to list of all the places they need to be sent or uploaded to.


Don't Pre-Read or Overprepare Too Much - 6/9/17

When you're reviewing a script before an audition or booking, you'll obviously want to look it over and familiarize yourself with it a bit. But it is possible to "over-prepare" and have too much of this "Pre-Reading" hurt more than it helps.

A big part of a great VO read is authenticity and coming across as if the words are your own. By doing too much preparation prior to recording your audition or booking, you can get too much into your own head and fall into a trap of doing more "Performing" than "Communicating".

You can certainly make little notes or underlines on the script on certain words and phrases if that helps you, but if you end up looking at a piece of copy that is covered in symbols, underlines, notes, and highlighted phrases, it's almost impossible to deliver that copy in a natural manner, since your brain is trying to comprehend and interpret the hundreds of little mark-ups you've made as you are reading. So try to limit these types of markings to only the ones that are essential.

1-3 read throughs is all you really need to familiarize yourself with the copy and prepare, then step in front of the mic and Communicate rather than Perform.


No Response to a Cold Email isn't necessarily bad - 6/2/17

When you are cold emailing prospects in hopes of getting on their roster or securing some VO work from them, you're looking to get a positive reply to your emails. But if you've been utilizing this marketing method for any period of time, you're likely aware that the most common response you'll get to a cold marketing email, is no response at all.

However, this doesn't necessarily mean that the prospect didn't open your email or didn't check out your work and file you in their records. While it's true that most of the time when a client likes your website/demos/etc... they will respond to your email and thank you and let you know they'll keep you in mind, sometimes this isn't the case. Many prospects you'll reach out to are quite busy, and they may simply save your email to a specific inbox folder, copy and paste your website link to a database, or add your name to a roster list of VO talent to contact in the future, all without ever responding to you. 

There have been several instances where I've heard back from prospects months after my initial contact with an audition opportunity or quote request. So even if you don't hear back, don't give up hope, you may still be on their radar, and a quick follow up later on can help elicit that response you're looking for and bring you back to the front of their mind.


Double Check the Project Details before Accepting - 5/26/17

Typically with any voiceover project, there is some amount of discussion that takes place before you are hired. You may get to see a version of the script, the word count or length, the usage, and the budget. As you move along in the audition process and discussions/negotiation for the project, you will give a quote for the job. When you do hear back from the client that you've been selected, it's a great feeling and your first instinct is to likely accept and get started right away - but you may want to just double check things first.

Sometimes things change over the course of the discussion for a project and the project you quoted originally, is not exactly the same project you are now being asked to record. The most common thing that could change is the script, so you'll always want to review the final script and make sure it is the length you agreed upon. It may also be wise to just confirm with the client that the usage, rate, and deadline is what you think them to be - and if so, you have the green light to get started.

This goes for projects on casting sites as well as ones you discuss directly with a client, doing this can ensure that you don't get taken advantage of, and get paid for the actual job you are completing, not an earlier (and different) version of it.
 


Don't Be Afraid to Look Past "Age Range" - 5/19/17

Many times an audition may come along where the description and style are right up your alley, yet the age range is "Young Adult" and your more of a "Middle Aged" Voice, or vice versa.

When assessing these types of auditions, or any audition for that matter, put more emphasis on the style and direction for the read than you do on the age range. Oftentimes, this is what the client is really looking for and like with any voice description, the different age ranges can mean different things to different people. Also, no one knows or has heard your voice more than you, so you may not be fully aware of how someone else is perceiving it - especially when they are only hearing audio and have no visual cues to go along with it. So don't be turned off by a job that looks good, except for the age range.

Quick story, I booked an awesome radio spot once where I had to play the "Dad" role - even though I think I was about 25 at the time. I booked it online, and had to go into a studio here in NYC to record. When I got there, I introduced myself and the producer looked at me and said "huh, well you look like your 12 years old but you don't sound like it, so let's get started". The role was a more "Cool and Hip" dad rather than a stern authoritarian. so that did fit my younger voice a bit better, but it was still a "Dad" character and if I had been turned off by that or the age description, I would have never auditioned and missed out on a really great job - I was in and out of the studio in 15 minutes, and it paid $1000, not bad...So when you're looking at a job, if you feel you can pull it off, don't be turned off by an age description, go ahead and audition.


Treat Auditions like a Booked Job - 5/12/17

It's pretty common to hold yourself to a higher standard for actual paying work than you do for 1 of 10,15, 20, or more auditions you are submitting in a day. But if you are overlooking small mistakes, audio issues, sub-par reads, or any other deficiencies in your overall VO "Product" when submitting auditions, you are doing yourself a disservice.

A good habit to get into, is to read each audition as if you have actually already been hired, and are now recording the project. And I don't mean just saying, "Ok I won't slack off, I'll put a lot of effort into this audition" - I mean actually pretending and telling yourself, "I booked this, now let's record and make the client happy" - This small shift in your mindset from "Audition-Mode" to "Work-Mode" can have a big impact on the way you perform, record, and edit your VO, and in turn, on your booking success.


Consider some Niche Demo Reels - 5/5/17

You're probably already aware of the typical demo reels that most VO Talent have - one's like Commercial, Narration, Character, etc... But these aren't the only types of reels you may want to have. If you've been working in VO for a little bit, you may have completed a few projects in a very specific niche, that can contribute to an entirely new reel just for that category. Or if you're just getting started but already know a great application that your voice is very well suited to, you may want to create a niche demo as well.

The benefits of having such a reel, are that when voice seekers are casting projects in that niche, your demo can stick out among the more generic and broad reaching Commercial and Narration reels that they will inevitably be seeing in their search. The very fact that you have a reel for that specific category will show you are experienced in it and already set you apart from the pack. To clarify, here are few "Niche Demo" ideas you can consider:
 

  • Automotive/Car Dealership Demo
  • Tagline Demo
  • Video Sales Letter Demo
  • Phone Tree Menu Demo
  • Disclaimer Demo


You can see that these are very specific types of reads that can likely fit under the larger umbrella of "Commercial" or "Narration" but give you an extra edge when it comes to castings for these types of projects, especially if you have done a lot of work in that style or are looking to.

Think of some niches that suit your voice and career and start creating some niche demos!


Keep your Files Organized! - 4/28/17

If you've been doing VO work for any significant length of time, you've no doubt had clients come back weeks, months, or even years (yes...it happens) after you complete a project and ask you to add something, change something, etc...

It's in these moments that the importance of an organized file system is abundantly clear. Make sure that you are organizing auditions and projects so that they are extremely easy to find and accessible. I like to base my organization on time. So I have folders for "Auditions" and "Projects", among others. Those folders break down into yearly subfolders, "2015","2016", "2017", etc... Those break down into monthly subfolders, and then in each monthly subfolder there is a folder for each specific project. Now when I get a request to add a line to project I recorded in May 2016, I can very easily go back and open that session in under a minute and pick up right where I left off.

If you are storing backups as well (which you should be!) on something like an external hard drive, make sure you keep your file and folder structure the same on there, so that you can easily copy and overwrite, and keep up to date copies of your files in multiple locations for safekeeping.


Charging for Pickups and Revisions - 4/21/17

The issue of whether to charge, and if so, how much to charge for revisions and pickups, can sometimes be tricky. After all, you want your clients to be happy, and if it will only take you 5 minutes to record a new line or revision, why not do so to keep them happy and coming back.

But you are also a professional, and while something may only take 5 or 10 minutes and it may feel awkward to ask for payment for such a small amount of your time, often this is in fact ok and expected.

A good rule of thumb, is if a client approaches you about a pickup, new line, revision, etc.. and phrases it with something along the lines of - "Let me know how much it would cost...", "what would you charge for....","How much are revisions for...." Then they are already expecting to pay an additional fee, and you should feel no obligation to say "oh don't worry about, I'll take care of that for free" - they are professional and are expecting to pay you for work that is in addition to your original agreement, so by all means, charge for it.

Ultimately it is up to you to assess each situation independently and decide whether to and how much to charge for a pickup, but don't be afraid to ask for compensation when it feels appropriate to do so.


Cold Read in your Head - 4/14/17

When reading scripts for auditions or gigs, you've probably read them out loud to yourself multiple times before recording. After all, you are going to be reading out loud when you step up to the mic, so why not get a few practice runs in.

However, you shouldn't overlook the potential benefits of reading a script silently in your head, especially when you are "cold reading" the script, or reading it for the first time. By not "performing" and simply taking in what is written, you may find yourself hearing the words in your head as if they were already coming from a finished commercial, audiobook, etc.. and it can be a great way to figure out the desired tone and style for the read, based on the copy itself.

For example, on your next commercial script, read it in your head and try to imagine you are actually listening to this finished commercial. How energetic or laid back are you hearing it? Which words are emphasized and punched? Where are the upward and downward inflections?

Try this out and see if it doesn't help improve the quality of your reads.


Track Client Origins - 4/7/17

It's important for a Voice-Talent (or any freelancer or entrepreneur, for that matter) to track the sources of their work so they can analyze and determine which channels are most profitable and successful for them.

In VO, that translates to keeping track of where each gig you land came from, whether that's an agent, one of the P2P casting sites, a direct message from a prospect through your website, or just an email that came into your inbox.

As crucial as that is, it's also crucial to keep track of the origins of any repeat work. What I mean by that, is for any work that comes to you from someone you've already worked with, in addition to tracking that the job came through email, a message through your website, etc... you should also note where the client originally came from. By doing so, you will be able to total up how much money you've made over a period of time, that is directly attributable to a specific channel. 

Here's an example to illustrate and clarify. Let's say I do a job for a brand new client, that I got through a P2P site. For that job, I'll keep record that I got it through the P2P site, and the P2P site is the origin of that work. If that same client emails me directly 5 more times throughout the year with new jobs (instead of hiring me through the P2P) - I'll mark for each of those 5 jobs that they came through a direct email, but that the origin is still that P2P, since that is how I originally obtained that client. Now, in doing annual or semi-annual reviews and analysis, I can attribute the money I've made from those 6 jobs, to my presence on that P2P site.


Use 2 EQ's - 3/31/17

EQ is a great way to shape the sound of your audio and polish it to be more professional. It can also be used "surgically" to remove troublesome frequency build up that exists in your recording space and chain. 

Consider using 2 different instances of an EQ plugin in your recording chain to each tackle a different EQ task. First, use a nice 5 or 7 band Parametric EQ to clean up any troublesome frequencies. Sweep around the frequency spectrum to identify any problem areas and listen for any ranges that jump out at you. Then cut these frequencies accordingly. Later on in your processing chain, or even directly after this first EQ, add another EQ plugin. With this one, you can perform some typical VO-related EQ tasks, like filtering out the very low end of the frequency spectrum, and gently boosting any pleasing frequency ranges.

Splitting these EQ tasks between 2 separate instances of an EQ Plugin can allow you to have more control over the frequency spectrum of your audio. If you have several troublesome frequencies that need to be cut, you may simply not have enough bands to accomplish this and sweeten your audio, all in one plugin. You may also have different EQ plugins that are each better suited to a certain task. So you can use one type of EQ to clean up and cut troublesome frequencies, and a totally different EQ plugin to then sweeten your audio.

Play around with this idea and see if you can't get a better grasp of the frequency spectrum of your recorded audio.


Don't Speak into the Mic - 3/24/17

Microphone position is one of the most influential factors in the final audio you produce in your home studio. While many things will affect your final product including the type of mic you use, you recording space, your interface, processing like EQ, Compression, etc... the whole process starts with your voice going out into the room, and being picked up by a microphone. You might be surprised to learn that how a microphone is positioned around a sound source (your mouth, in the case of VO) can greatly change the way the recorded audio sounds.

If you're not already, try positioning your microphone so that you are not speaking directly into it, but rather off-axis from the microphone. A common way to set this up for VO, is to start with the mic directly in front of your mouth and facing it head on. Then move the microphone either to the left or right (your preference) by about 3-6 inches or so. Now, angle the microphone itself so it is facing back towards your mouth.

The end result is a mic position where the mic is located a few inches to the side of you, but it is then angled back so it is "looking" at your mouth. You can also take this further by moving the microphone up or down a few inches as well. This position helps reduce plosives and mouth sounds since they are not being shot right into the diaphragm of the mic, while at the same time providing a nice, clean, and pleasing audio signal.

If you think there's room for improvement in your audio quality, there's a lot of things to look at and explore, but start at the source with mic position!


Stay in Touch with your Clients - 3/17/17

While it's always important to acquire new clients, it's equally, if not more important to keep old ones coming back. To do this, you need to stay in touch and keep on their radar. But sending out emails to your client list saying "Hey, just in case you forgot, I still exist and am a voice-over talent and want work so please give me some. thanks, bye!" isn't very professional or polished, even if that really is the actual reason you are reaching out.

So instead, try to be creative and touch base with your clients in ways that aren't as blunt as the previous example, yet still remind them you are around and even reinforce the value you offer. Here are some ideas:

  • An obvious one is sending a newsletter showing off some recent work or new demo reels. It reminds them who you are and even provides audio/video examples of your talents.
  • Ask about using a past project for your reel. It's a good excuse to get in touch, and reminds them about you and the project you worked on together.
  • Inform them about a new service offering. Did you recently get a new live direction method set up, such as Source Connect or ipDTL - let clients know you now offer it. Have you started adding Music/SFX to VO's for your clients, let them know!


Even though the real reason you are contacting them is to keep on their radar and get new work, finding creative ways to subtly do this while reminding clients of your talents and value will yield much better results than simply saying who you are and what you do.


Negotiating and Discussing Rates with Potential Clients - 3/10/17

One of the trickiest and sometimes most frustrating parts of being a VO talent is answering this question from a new prospective client:

"What's your rate?"

When dealing with repeat clients, you have past projects to use as a reference, but for new clients you don't have that precedent to refer to. And in VO, budgets and rates can vary greatly from client to client, for work that requires that same amount of time on your end. So how do you answer this question?

You should always try to get the customer to give a number first. Your response can include phrases like, "Let me know if you have a specific budget set for this project", "If you have an amount in mind for the VO, just let me know", etc...

Now this isn't to say you should play cat and mouse and keep going back and forth until someone gives in and says a number, but at least give the client the opportunity to throw out an amount first. If they say they are just gathering quotes or something along those lines, then you can give your rate, or maybe a slightly inflated version of it and state you are flexible, in case they want to negotiate.

If the client is reaching out to you, they are interested. Even if you give a number that's a bit higher than what they had in mind, if you state you are flexible they will likely try to work with you rather than just be scared off. And if you can get them to give a number first, you will likely find it is higher than what you would have proposed, or at the very least, in line with your typical rates.


Always Stay Positive when Dealing with Clients - 3/3/17

If you've been doing VO work for any significant length of time, you've probably encountered at least a few clients who are frustrating to deal with. If you haven't yet, I'm sorry to say that it's likely you will at some point in the future, it's just part of doing business.

Whether they are slow to respond to emails, micromanage your work, nitpick every little detail of your read, or try to nickel and dime you, there are plenty of ways clients can become frustrating. When dealing with these situations, it's important that you remember to always stay positive, polite, and professional.

It can be very tempting to lose your patience and express that in your emails or calls with the client, but there really is no upside to that. Getting into arguments or conflicts with your clients can only serve to make situations worse and leave them not ever wanting to work with you again or even lead to things like non-payment or bad reviews, which you really don't want or need.

This isn't to say you shouldn't stand your ground or be firm when you are in the right, but read that email out loud before you hit "Send" and make sure your tone is polite even when dealing with frustrating situations. If the client is in the wrong, let them know and be persistent in communicating this to them, don't lose your temper and be in the wrong yourself. If you can remain positive, polite, and professional, you'll find situations like unresponsive clients, slow payment, and other troublesome issues will have much better resolutions.


Think Outside the Box when Marketing - 2/24/17

You may already know that you should be contacting Production Companies, Ad Agencies, and Media Companies when marketing your voice-over services. But there are also some great potential leads that may have a need for your services, that are not these types of companies at all. 

Here are just a few examples to get you thinking outside the box:

  • Mobile App/Software Companies - These companies may produce apps or Software for themselves or clients. While they might not regularly be producing video or audio content, many of them create tutorials on how to use their apps or software in-house, and may very likely need VO Talent for single tutorials or even ongoing work!
  • Hardware/Products - Similar to the first example, companies that produce hardware or products that are technical in nature and not very intuitive may also very well produce their own in-house training, commercials or tutorials for their products. Examples can include Camera companies, Furniture that requires assembly, Computer Hardware Manufacturers, and tons of others.
  • Tour Companies - There are plenty of companies out there that produce guided tour content for vacation destinations, museums, galleries, real estate and other such places. While these aren't your typical video production companies, they certainly utilize voice-over in their productions and can be a great source of work.

By the way, these aren't just interesting ideas I've had - I have actually done work for all of the above types of companies. A few are even ongoing repeat clients.

So those are just a few ideas to get you thinking, start brainstorming some other out-of-the-box companies to add to your marketing outreach efforts!


Using Templates in your Recording Software - 2/17/17

Many Audio Recording Software Programs, or Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) offer the ability to set up and use templates for your sessions. If you are not already doing this, it's definitely something to look into to increase the efficiency of your workflow, and consistency in your recordings.

One of the main ways to use templates, is to set up your Recording Chain for any processing that you do on a track, so that it is ready to go as soon as you create a new session. For instance, I use some light gating, a de-esser, and some subtle EQ and Compression on my produced voice-overs. Then I use a limiter to increase the overall level. Rather than have to add all of these plugins to my track, and then go in to each one and tweak the settings as I desire, on every single audition and project - I simply create a new session using my VO template and all I have to do is hit record. The template is set up to work well with my mic, recording space, and interface, so that it can take the recorded audio it gets from those physical components, and do the necessary processing right off the bat to make the finished audio sound great.

Some other great uses of templates are to set up the session visually the way you'd like it to be. You can have multiple tracks with labelling, color coding, session markers, and other helpful visual cues all input into your session right from the get go.

So if you're not already using templates, start doing so, and use the time you save to record more auditions!


Auditioning Efficiently - 2/10/17

You likely find yourself receiving multiple audition opportunities each day and it can be tempting to submit for all of them. But doing so could potentially be more harmful than helpful. Realistically you are just not right for every audition opportunity that comes your way, and being able to discern which ones you do have a good shot at is an essential skill for the working VO talent. Also essential, is to create an auditioning workflow that lets you turn out quality auditions, quickly.

When assessing an audition opportunity, your most helpful pieces of information are the job description and any reference materials given (links to youtube videos, audio sample reads, etc...) Rely more heavily on these rather than the descriptive terms given (Friendly, Cheerful, Conversational, etc...) and the age ranges (Young Adult, Middle Aged, etc...) As those terms and age ranges often mean different things to different people.

Also, if you don't already have one, create a template in your recording software that you can use on all of your auditions and projects to minimize the time spent editing and processing your voiceovers.

Auditioning is a numbers game, and therefore you want to turn out as many as you can, without sacrificing quality. Try to aim to spend no more than 5 minutes on a single audition, that's in total, from the moment you first open the posting or email and assess whether its a good fit, all the way through the moment you hit the "Submit" or "Send" button.

Use these tips and create your own efficient auditioning workflow that can help you churn out high quality auditions, in high volume, on a consistent basis.


Visualize the Celebrity Talent Performing the Read - 2/3/17

A lot of times when watching commercials or movies, you'll find yourself recognizing the celebrity talent voicing the project. These are unique situations because not only are you watching a very high quality production and voice over performance (which you can always learn from) but you also are familiar with the looks and mannerisms of the talent behind the mic. 

In these situations, try closing your eyes and instead of watching the visuals of the commercial or movie, imagine the talent in the recording booth behind the mic. Visualize what they look like as they are performing the VO, what facial expressions are they making, what gestures and movements? You can do this with any Voiceover, but you'll find it much easier when you are familiar with the talent, and you'll probably be surprised at just how well you can visualize their performance and try to incorporate similar actions into your own.

To help out, here's a great video featuring Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren, and a few others recording lines for the movie "Monster's University" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reDhs8K7Ids
Watch this and the next time you see a commercial or movie with celebrity VO talent, close your eyes and imagine what those recording sessions looked like as well.


Optimizing your Demos on your Personal Website - 1/27/17

If you're serious about a career as a VO Talent, even if it's just a part-time career, a personal website for your VO work is essential. The main purpose of such a site will be to serve as a "Home" for your VO business online, and specifically your demo reels. Here are a few Pro Tips relating to how your demos are displayed on your site that you may not have thought of.

  1. The first thing, is to make sure all of your demos are neatly organized and labelled. Your most prominent and relevant should be listed first (your Commercial Reel probably) followed by the next most important and so on down the line. If you keep older demos listed, make sure the year is in the title (ex: Commercial Demo 2015, etc...)
  2. If you have text descriptions that go along with your reels, make sure they don't clutter the page. Either keep them very short and organized well under the audio player for the demo, or hidden so that you need to hover or click on the demo to see them.
  3. Try to use audio players that stop one track when another begins to play. So for example if you have 3 demos listed, and I click the play button on all 3, they won't all play simultaneously, only the last one I clicked on will. This is more convenient for those viewing your site, and avoids the annoyance of having to go back and hit "stop" on one demo every time I want to play another.
  4. Try to also use audio players that display the demo visually, including where in the audio file the listener is currently at, and how much time is left. Also, it should give the listener the ability to click around to different spots in the demo as they wish. Some audio players simply have a play button and once clicked, the demo will play through to the end with no indication of how long it is. This is a much less user friendly option for those viewing your site and demos.
  5. Avoid using AutoPlay features on your demos. This is up to you, but many people find it irritating when they click on a link and all of a sudden noise starts blasting out of their speakers. If they are visiting your site, they are interested in you, and as long as your demos are neatly and prominently displayed, they'll click on the ones they want to hear, there's not really a need to hit them over the head with it.


There's some things to think about with the demos on your site, If you haven't done so in a while, review your own website and make adjustments as needed.


Act with More than just your Voice - 1/20/17

Alot of auditions will require you to be more than just a narrator or announcer, but rather a character in the script. When taking on these kinds of projects and auditions, it can be really helpful to act out the roles with your body and facial expressions as if you were auditioning for an on-camera role, in addition to altering the way you speak and perform the voice-over.

As VO Talent, there's no visual element to our final product, so we can often become complacent and lazy in how we utilize our bodies and faces in our performance. But this can be doing us a huge disservice. So if you are not already, try pretending that you will be seen and paying close attention to your actions and facial expressions.

For example, if you're playing the role of a news reporter, hold your hand up under you mouth as if you were holding a microphone and speaking into a camera while reporting from out in the field. If you're the busy parent hustling from one chore to the next, try acting like your holding a lot of items in your hands, if you're the high powered executive, pretend you're giving a presentation in front of a room of people and point and gesture to an imaginary presentation screen as you list your points. You get the idea. By approaching character roles as if you were auditioning for an on-camera role and using your body and face in your performance, you'll turn out a much, much more convincing and high quality product. Try it out on the next appropriate audition if you aren't already.


Listen to your Auditions with Music before Submitting - 12/29/16

Most of the projects that you audition for and lend your voice to, will end up combining your VO with music and sound effects. A great way to review your auditions and make sure they are the best they can be, is to play them back along with some music underneath them. If you really hit the right emotion and feel in your read, when you combine it with a fitting piece of music it should sound very much like a finished commercial that you would expect to hear on TV or Radio. If it does, you know you have a great audition on your hands and can submit with confidence.

To do this, I recommend using a service like Spotify or Youtube to pull up a fitting music track. Simply pull down the volume slider in that service to about halfway or so (maybe a little less) and then hit play on the music, and then play on your VO in your recording software. Listen to them play together and see if it feels like a good representation of a finished project. If so, submit away and wait for the news that you landed the job!


Read Ahead with Your Eyes - 12/22/16

Sometimes it can be difficult to keep a good flow and consistent pace in your read and you may find yourself needing to take small pauses or even stumbling over certain words and phrases. Having unnecessary pauses and mistakes can add a lot of time to the editing process and slow down live-directed sessions.

If you experience these types of issues in your performances, try reading ahead. What I mean by that, is practice looking 2-3 words ahead with your eyes as you read through the script. It's almost like your eyes are processing the information a few words ahead of what you are reading, and your voice is simply following along. If you've never done this before, it can be a bit strange at first, but try it out with this very email, or your next batch of auditions and see if you flow through the script with less pauses and errors. 
 


Working on the Weekend - 12/16/16

If you are early on in your VO career, or you're just looking for a little extra leg up on the competition, consider setting aside a little bit of time on the weekend to work.

Many Full-Time talent only do a very small amount of work on the weekend, if any at all - as VO is their full time job and they take weekends off just like working professionals in many other fields. However there are still plently of auditions posted on the weekend and by spending some time auditioning Friday-Sunday you can get heard ahead of these talent if they don't audition until Monday, or if they skip the audition all together that's less competition for you on these "Weekend Jobs".

The weekend can also be a good time to draft up a number of marketing emails and schedule them to be sent out during the week. That way you have a large number of marketing email communications that get fired off during the workweek, yet it doesn't require any of your workweek time to send them.


Put Celebrity References in your Profiles - 12/12/16

If you've been auditioning for VO projects online for any length of time, you've no doubt come across celebrity references in job postings.

Some common ones are John Krasinski or Ryan Reynolds for Younger Males, George Clooney or Alec Baldwin for Older Males, Dennis Leary for Gruff, Bold Styles, James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman for Narrators, Jennifer Lawrence for Younger Females, and Catherine Keener for Older Females.

What you may not have realized is that many people casting projects will use these celebrity references as search terms when looking for talent on casting sites or through search engines. Consider adding some that are relevant to your voice and sound to your Profiles on casting sites, and your personal website so that when casting pros are searching using these terms, you come up in the results! 


Scheduling your Marketing Emails - 12/1/16

The content of your marketing emails plays a huge role in their success. But an often overlooked element of your email marketing plan, is the day and time when you send them.

Rather than simply drafting up your emails and sending them immediately, consider scheduling them to be sent at more opportune days and times. Many email clients have a scheduling feature that will allow you to type up an email and put it into an "Outbox" to be sent automatically at a later day and time of your choosing. 

The main goal is for your emails to land in the inbox of your recipients when they are most likely to read them. Consider times like 9 or 10am, early in the workday before your recipients get caught up in the tasks of the day, but not first thing so they are lumped in with the rest of the emails that filled their inbox overnight.