Mistakes. We all make them! Making mistakes is part of learning and growing and while we all hate to make them, the value is in what we learn from them. The best part is we don’t have to make all of the mistakes ourselves, we can learn from the mistakes of others.
I get emails daily from people who want to become voice talents. They’ve heard all their life what a unique and wonderful voice they have, how special it is and how they are missing their calling of being a professional voice over talent. With pure exuberance and an unquenchable curiosity they contact me hoping to get the one answer that will make their dreams come true! Some are more curious than serious and some just want to make it happen so badly their excitement and sense of urgency leads to some really bad mistakes.
Here are some examples of bad mistakes aspiring voice talents tend to make:
• Not Investing In Training
Prior to cutting a demo, a voice talent should invest in high-quality voice over training to work on script analysis, delivery techniques, recording, working with recording software, basically, the skills you will need to actually be a voice talent. It takes some time to develop these skills and investing time in training and practicing your skills will increase your confidence and help you to accentuate your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses which will prepare you for your demos.
• Homemade Demos And Recording Demos Prematurely
Your demos speak for you and you need to make sure they speak well! They need to be professionally produced. I do not produce my own demos. Rather I work with a professional voice over talent, producer, and coach whom I can trust to bring out the best I have to deliver and I have been in the voice over business for over 20 years as a professional voice talent, coach, and producer. You need to have an experienced professional who can be objective and pull out your best voice. Demos must be succinct and should accurately reflect your abilities, range, and versatility as a voice over talent. Recording your demos is not the first step! Training and skill development first, demos second.
• Sending Agents Homemade Demos And Audio Clips
Checking out agencies and getting a feel for what is available as far as representation is good. What is even more important is putting your best foot forward. Agents want current professional demos not voice clips, and most will not even speak with you unless you have professionally produced demos to offer them. They want to be able to give a definitive yes or no based upon your demos. Lack of professionally produced demos demonstrates a lack of professionalism and as much as agents are representing you, make no mistake about it, you are representing them when they give you the opportunity to audition for a gig, so the more professional you come across, the better your chances for representation. That said, even some of the best voice talent get turned down periodically by agents because they may have similar voices they are representing too. My best advice is to invest in proper training and send agents professionally produced demos.
Ambition and excitement are wonderful qualities. Learning how to harness them and taking the appropriate steps to make good decisions will help you avoid unnecessary mistakes like these.
Great information and advice! Thank You..
Hi Terry, Thanks for these awesome tips and great advice. I’m going to use this to finally break into the Voice Over Game. I really love this as a career and your advice is at the top of my list because of your vast experience and expertise in this field.
Thanks for the article. I agree with a lot of it. I think some people might be tempted to make their own demos if they have the audio skills but it IS important to have an objective listener there to help you make it OUTSTANDING rather then just….blah.
Terry. Great article that I found very informative. I make my own recordings from home and use Adobe Audition 3 for recording my voice overs. When you say agents are looking for good professional demos who do you use to mixdown yours? I always thought that you were supposed to add some music or stingers, etc. when doing a voiceover. So how would you suggest one go about getting a professional demo. I always do a dry voice recording with about 3 to 5 takes of different styles. I am not a professional voiceover artist in anyway but, just getting started. I mainly make screencast for software training using Camtasia Studio 7. I have made a few for Audition 3 and a few other software programs. I am a 3rd Party Trainer for teaching Camtasia Studio so having a good audio (voiceover) track for me is a must. Let us know what the best standard practice is from start to finish before sending a demo in please.
Keep up the great work. Love the site.
That’s wise and helpful, Terry, as ever! Long ago, in training at the BBC, I met a sound recordist Andrew Barr (later became a religious TV producer) who emblazoned on his equipment box this quote from the visual artist J.D.Sedding: ‘There is Hope in Honest Error, None in the Icy Perfection of the Mere Stylist’. …Mind you, Mr Barr always did a great job!
All best wishes for 2011 – Howard Ellison (Devon UK)
Your point is well made. In a field as competitive as this, there really isn’t much room for mistakes. How, then, does someone who happens to be financially challenged, secure the assistance of a voice coach and/or cut a professional demo?
Steve: If you wanted to open a restaurant, you’d have to borrow money to get the location and equipment, and the same is true for starting your business as a VO talent. You may need to get a small business loan! Typical professional demos are in the low four figures. Is it worth it? Of course. You’re starting a small business!
Would be nice to do a video clip on a good demo to give us all an idea in what to shoot for.
Your last video showing how to enhance a voice track was really good. I’ve used it and it does pump up the voice. So much better than without processing. I have a question that I’m sure would be helpful to all on the circuit. Do you ever compress voice and music together or is it a no-no to compress music beds or a sound effect? Your professional tips are truly appreciated. Thank you.
Regarding home made demos, the thrill for me was to learn how to use the tools in the first place (I use ProTools 9), develop my mic technique and produce a finished article. Now all I do is get the job and submit. Always good to get together with a top producer though as they keep pace with the trends in the industry too. In this respect, I have found JP at theShowreel here in London particularly good in his direction.
Amen !!! I got caught up in being rushed into doing a demo without proper training,I knew thing’s were not right but I respected the talent. Even I knew I wasn’t ready,After a lot of thought and sleepless night’s I stopped,took a loss, gave my notice or regret’s,a hug and walked away. I did learn some costly lesson’s.I do plan on pursuing VO and doing thing’s correctly the next time around.I needed this article.I am saving,and saving LOL.When I begin again I will shoot for the training,,coaching,mentoring,discovering the niche or genre I’m suited for or not,skill’s,techniques,marketing and eventually demo’s .And as silly as this may sound, I am not in a hurry for demo’s and working, those thing’s will happen after training and time. Coahing number one.. ,Thank’s for the articles and site.
EXCELLENT ADVICE. I WILL REMEMBER TO EXERCISE PROFESSIONALISM. THANK YOU FOR YOUR VALUABLE INFORMATION.