- Wait until you’re ready to make your demo. Too many people skip the crucial step of taking classes, developing personal styles and finding their own signature sound. Voice over is an art that takes patience, experimentation, practice and experience. And to an agent, the difference between hearing a polished performance and an amateur romp is painfully obvious.
2. HIRE A PROFESSIONAL DEMO PRODUCER. If you aren’t prepared to do that, you are wasting time reading articles about how to have a successful career in something you aren’t willing to seriously work for. You wouldn’t take a selfie on your phone and submit that as your professional head shot, right?! Same principle. There are lots of options out there, but you want to make sure you go with a seasoned Voice Over Demo Producer who will work with you, spend the time getting to know you and your personality; and can direct you to bring out the best of your talents. They’re more than just great engineers. They should also know the current market trends and how you can best market yourself.
3. Be yourself — everyone else is taken. No, really. To get the best results, record with the voice that is uniquely you. (This is why extensive training is so important. It helps you home in on that thing that ONLY YOU have).
4. Along with the team you’ve hired, choose copy that really speaks to you. Authenticity is the name of the game, and if you truly care about something, that’s going to come through in your voice. Remember, this is a commercial demo. Every commercial job you ever book will be about sounding like YOU love the product or service you are talking about. Or, more importantly, that the listener believes you love. Make your job easy here, and pick things you already love.
5. Be objective. Your husband, girlfriend, brother, pizza delivery guy, whoever is not going to have the realistic constructive criticism you need. The right director will. Work with supportive, honest, experienced people who will help you bring out your best.
6. Experiment with different styles that work for your voice. There are a thousand shades between commanding and comatose. Your demo needs to showcase your range, so be sure every read doesn’t sound the same. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one high-energy spot, and at least one conversational, casual spot. There’s also warm, friendly, hip, sarcastic, chatty, fast-talking… What do you do best?
7. Trim it down. You should net 5-7 different spots on your 60-second demo in fairly quick cuts between 6 and 12 seconds. That means slashing and burning all but the very best bits and then arranging them to best effect.
8. Use music to add color. Most demo producers offer this as part of their cumulative fee. It should be well under your voice in volume, so as not to mask your vocal quality or performance. Do some research and make sure your producer isn’t using the same songs for every demo he or she makes. Yours should be UNIQUELY YOU.
9. Keep it short. It used to be a nice 5-minute demo just about summed it up. Whaat? Who’s got that kind of time?? Now the norm is about 60 seconds. What’s your best style, your signature sound.
That should definitely be first or second in the mix. You want the buyer to continue listening after the first 5 seconds…
10. Ready to get started? You can find a list of great demo producers in the Voice Over Resource Guide (if you’re located in New York or LA) and there’s always TalkShop. We offer a personal demo service that works with the individual. We take the time to get to know you, hear your voice, current skill level and strengths. We’ll be supportive, yet straightforward. TalkShop is not here to take your hard-earned dollars and send you off with a substandard demo. We want you to be your best so you can do your best. If after your initial consultation with us we assess you’re not quite ready – we’ll advise you to take additional classes or perhaps personal coaching to get you there. We believe in complete honesty and don’t want you to waste your time or money.
If you’re in another market – send an email to a VO agency in your local area and ask for a recommendation. And of course, Google it!
Note: It’s important not to mix genres on one demo. ie. one demo for Commercials, another for animation, etc. Once again – it’s most important to start with commercial. It’s the one that every agent will need first to consider representing you. No need to have more than one demo to start, and be sure to only include what you do best.
All of this sound overwhelming? It’s just like anything else worth doing – it’s worth doing it right! And with voice over, the journey is half the fun!