As a voice over artist, people are always asking me, what is the key to a “great” audition instead of just a “good” one?  The truth is, it’s all about “casual familiarity,” the art of talking to people as if you’ve known them your entire life. You have to do this on the microphone every time you record your audition, book on tape, or promo spot.

You can practice by recording yourself on your cell phone (with the mic) or even at home, from your computer, when you are having an actual conversation with someone.  Then really listen to the playback, and hear the inflections and tone in your voice. You should then make it your ultimate goal.   It’s not just about “picturing a friend in your head, when you are talking in the mic,” as many teachers will tell you, it’s more about bringing life to the written words as if you had created these words organically, out of your own mouth, and in a conversational tone, you are re-visiting that same dialogue.

Another way to practice this is really intently listen to radio commercials, and the narration on TV commercials.  Even when there is a famous celebrity voice blaring out of your TV speakers, voicing everything from “Applebee’s” (John Corbett) to “Lowe’s” (Gene Hackman) they still use a friendly, conversation voice when selling you the product, and you are drawn in by their words.

This is a gift that can be learned by anyone if you put in the proper time.  I am a firm believer that a great VO coach is necessary in the beginning, but even if finances don’t allow a coach or classes, you can always turn online and research demos of thousands of voice over actors online. Once you have an ear for the dialogue, you can bring any words to “life” off the page.

Also, in order to get the most out of your audition, be sure you are using the right microphone. As a voice over performer, it is critical that you choose the right microphone for your studio, room, and your budget. Before you buy one, it is vital you listen and compare for yourself.

It is common for new voice over talents to just go on advice from friends or associates, familiarity with something they’ve used previously (maybe even an electro-Voice RE20 from a radio station), or what they can afford.  These are all factors you should consider, but what worked for me was researching online different brands and then going to my local Guitar Center store and trying out the microphones for myself.  There are mics set up in stores, and the staff at these stores has always been immensely helpful in helping me choose a proper mic, even when it comes time for an upgrade.

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