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Voice Over Checklist 2014

30 December

Whether you’re a voice over actor who’s getting work and loving it, but would like more, or you’ve just launched a voice demo and are either tentatively testing the water or going at it ‘like a bull at a gate’,  you always need to take stock of what you need to do next.

Making sure you’re packaged correctly and have a plan for your marketing is crucial if you want success.

I very rarely hear that success has come to someone who’s made little or no effort at securing it!

Sure, you might luck out and pick up a job just because someone suggested you, but that usually doesn’t make a career. Only diligent, consistent work does.

Notice I didn’t use the phrase ‘hard work’? 

Because nothing you do with passion is ever hard – when it feels hard, you might like to choose a softer career path.

If you’re with me in the passion-for-voice-over stakes, here’s a little check list to work through over the holidays.

Why not make next year the year you follow your dream to a successful career in voice over!

1.   Research  

A good question to ask yourself is this, “How much research am I doing?”

Constantly listening out for what’s being recorded and where it’s appearing is the kind of research that’s invaluable in building a voice over career.

And it’s free!

I’m often surprised by just how many of those I coach or lecture in voice over who desperately want a career as a voice actor, don’t listen to broadcast radio or watch television.

If they do listen and watch, they often report that they don’t listen to the ad breaks.

What???  Not listen to the ad breaks?

That’s why I listen to radio (mostly) and I certainly never mute the TV ads – no matter how irritating they can be!

You need to be listening for everywhere you hear the ‘disembodied voice’…and when you begin to listen for it, you’ll hear it everywhere.  

Voices are not just on radio and television, they’re online, in-store, on phones, in aircraft, at events, the airport, the bus station, the cinema! 

Phew!  It’s quite a list…and there’s much, much more, as the advertisers say.

Understanding what kind of work is being produced, and where you fit in is essential if you’re to carve a niche for yourself. 

When you listen to the recorded voice, always ask this question, “Could I be doing that?” 

Be objective.

To answer the question accurately you need to be really aware of what it is about the sound of your disembodied voice that will get you work.

And remember, it has nothing to do with your biological age or what you do in the world. 

All disembodied voices give the listener clues to:

  • Class,
  • Education,
  • Location,
  • Personality,
  • Emotional states, and
  • Character that sometimes bears no resemblance to who you are in life.

Each voice carries with it a visual – you could call it a “voice stamp”.

It’s the ‘thing’ that signifies how and where your voice will be used.

You may have one voice style – you may have many.

But no matter how many you have, you need to know where it will fit.

2.  Your Voice Over Repertoire

Once you know where you’d fit in, you need to make sure that the kind of work you have on your voice demo reflects this. 

Then you need to start growing your repertoire.

If you feel you have the voice for a certain area that you’re not getting work in, you need to perfect that style and include it on your demo, but before you do, you need to get really good at it.

I remember back in the early 90’s when female voices began to be cast as business or corporate voices (in the USA they call it “industrial”)

This had been a very male dominated area, but advertising agencies convinced advertisers that it was women, not men, who made many of the ‘big money’ decisions in the household.

So these industries began booking female voices that carried authority and trust, as well as warmth.

I was young then but thought I could create a voice style that would fit the bill. 

I made a study of the scripts and the voice styles that I heard, practiced my version of what was already out there and added a couple of samples to my demo.

Soon, I was booking some of this work as well and my repertoire increased. 

Over the years, as I matured, that side of my work has just grown and grown.

If you want to work in new areas, create new styles or even perfect the one’s you have to listen.

Listen to those you like and respect who are doing the kind of work you can imagine yourself doing and begin to increase your repertoire of voices and styles.

3.   Your Demo

I know I say this a lot – your demo is your most important tool to securing voice over work!

Without an engaging, professionally produced, regularly updated demo, you’ll have nothing to market your voice with. 

Your demo is the calling-card you use to contact studios, agents, producers or anyone else looking for voice actors.

So, how’s your demo stacking up? 

You may have made a demo last year and sent it out studios, had great success, some success or no success at all.

Now is the time to revisit that demo and listen for how it’s travelling.

If you have been getting work, listen to the tracks on your demo that closely resemble the work you’ve been getting – call this your ‘style strength’. 

It’s what someone (or everyone) is buying about your voice style and it’s where you fit in.

If you can’t determine that, then listen out for what you feel are your strongest reads and why, then conversely your weakest and why.

Listen out for that track you feel is no longer working for you or the one you never get booked to do – clearly there’s no point having it there!

It’s not always easy to listen to your own voice over work and be realistic with your assessment. 

If you can, get a trusted colleague, or someone you’ve worked with, to give you an assessment, or get a voice over coach to do it for you.

Sometimes, just the smallest tweaks and perhaps the addition of a couple of extra tracks can make it sound fresh and interesting all over again!

So, now that you have some things to do, make your plan about how you’re going to roll this out and when. 

Make sure you have your contact lists in order and if you don’t have any, create some.

Join voiceover groups and read voiceover blogs.

Begin participating in social media like there’s no tomorrow – I’ve discovered this is where all the best information is coming from.

In fact, follow me on Twitter, like my Facebook page and get my daily updates. Even follow me on Google + if you like – hey, the more, the merrier.

And make 2014 an incredibly successful year in the pursuit of voiceover success!

Abbe Holmes About Abbe Holmes
Find Your Voice As a Voice Over Actor And Artist With The Voice Over Coach. For over 30 years I've had a successful voiceover career. I work in mainstream voice over for radio and television, narration for the corporate sector, website content and documentaries, as well as characters for animation, IVR, ADR, on-hold and foreign film dubbing.

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4 Responses to “Voice Over Checklist 2014”

  1. Robyn Clancy January 6, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

    Fantastic as always Abbé. Shared as well. xx

    • abbe-holmes January 7, 2014 at 9:58 am #

      Hi Robyn
      Thanks for your comment (and your share :)) Have a spectacular year and may that gorgeous voice of yours be heard.

  2. Lyall Brooks January 13, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    Great article, Abbe, and a firm – but friendly – kick up the bum! You’ve inspired me to stop faffing around with what-ifs and actually get working on VO this year. Thank you! x

    • abbe-holmes January 14, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

      Hi Lyall
      Great to hear from you and that you’re ready to power on into the V/O year!

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