A voice over demo is like a business card, headshot, and CV all wrapped into one.
Almost every professional voice actor has a high-quality demo to show off their strengths and establishes their personal brand. The voice over industry is highly competitive so to land the roles you want, you need to do all you can to stand out as a voice actor. Your goal is to get as many people as possible to listen to what you can do. Producers like to hear what a voice sounds like before hiring voice talent. They don’t care how you look, just how you sound! They will decide whether to hire you within the first 5-10 seconds of hearing your voice. Your demo is their first impression of you.
Every voice is unique. Don’t fall into the trap of doing too many wacky voices in your reel as 90% of the work as a voice over artist is usually conversational reads in your natural accent. Don’t try to cram too much into your first reel. No more than 3 mins is more than enough and anything shorter than 30 seconds runs the risk of enough time to fully demonstrate your vocal range. It should be quality over quantity when it comes to voice over demos.
Having up to an hour worth of recording time with an experienced recording engineer will guide you through the best microphone techniques and help get the best from your voice. Recording your voice reel in a studio also enables you to record using royalty-free scripts of which you can read through ahead of your recording session, ranging from commercials to dramatic pieces.
Although it’s important to keep the voice natural it is good to include some range and you can still explore different styles and add as much colour as you wish. Styles to consider could include emotion, pace, rhythm, pitch and energy. Considering the vastness of the multibillion dollar voice acting industry, you’ll likely find that your voice is more fitted for one area than another. But while you’re still getting to know what your voice can do, play the field. It’s not a bad idea to test out various categories of voice over work to practice.
Animation is often a reason why people get into voice acting because they have a yearning to voice crazy characters. After all, who wouldn’t want to see their voice personified by an animated character? Fortunately there does seem to be a large amount of work available in the field of animation.
Animation is not just for children and can include dubbing for foreign language cartoons, video games, talking toys etc. Working in animation allows you to achieve the ultimate performance through exaggerated facial expressions and arm movements to give your character a persona that is larger than life.
Audiobooks have experienced a surge in popularity resulting in a larger market for voices that specialise in narration. Voices for narration tend to be soothing and engaging, that can be listened to for hours on end. If narration is something you feel passionate about, try recording a number of excerpts from royalty-free novels. If you specialise in a given area, like audiobook narration, you may find it best to have a specific demo for each genre, fantasy, sci-fi, young adult that you read in.
Voice over is highly sought after in the corporate world, and business projects can be a thrilling way to establish yourself locally and internationally. Every business requires some type of voice over, from telephone recording to employee training videos, educational videos, corporate narration translation, and voice over welcoming visitors to the company website.
Podcasts are an increasing and are the primary medium through which many people stay up to date with current events, get their storytelling and entertainment, and have horizons broadened. Having a polished a voice that listeners find trustworthy, relaxed, or captivating is highly important in the world of podcasting. You can write your own podcast script, or simply speak about something that you’re passionate about in a casual yet compelling manner.
If you produce a number of short demos in a variety of styles, you stand a better chance of those demos being heard. Promoting your demos online and describing them for search engines is a great way of getting them listened to. However, when you’re producing your first demo, you should hone in on the kind of voice acting you believe you’ll thrive in most, and on the vocal qualities that make your voice shine.