This is a question probably every aspiring voice over artist has asked themselves at one time or another, they’ve maybe been told by friends or colleagues that they have a nice voice and they should probably give it a go.
Actually, thinking back, I don’t think anyone has ever said this to me though. Although someone did once say I’d make a good dentist, something about having to wear a mask all day or something, pretty sure it was an insult...
Anyhoo, its common for other (normal) voice over artists to have been told this beforehand so I thought it would be a good jumping off point!
So, back on topic. You’ve been told you have a good voice and the seed has been planted in your head into becoming a voice over artist, but, if you’re anything like me the imposter syndrome kicks in and you suddenly don’t believe it yourself as soon as you hear your first recordings.
So, what’s the next logical step? It was no good getting advice from friends and family as they’d have just given me some generic encouraging statements. I needed brutal honesty! So, of course, validation from strangers was the next step!
When I first started out, I emailed a number of different voice over artists my sub standard guff demos in a desperate hope of some initial professional validation. You can probably guess how this went but was completely (and understandably) ignored.
So, how exactly do I know if I have the right voice for voice over? Who will give me validation?!?
After this abject failure, there was only really one way to find out if I was good enough to do this and that was by starting to submit work and auditions to real, living, breathing clients. From this experience you’ll be pleased to know I actually discovered that there is no “right” voice.
That’s not to saying things like quality of recordings or delivery of scripts aren’t important (they definitely are, and more on these later). I’m saying that we’re all lucky enough to have unique voices and more than likely, someone out there is looking for a voice like yours.
I’ve found that 99 times out of 100 the client already knows exactly what they want from a script, they can hear the voice on their head and are on a quest to find it. I found the more auditions I sent, the more I found my soft, warm (occasionally comedic) accent was what was sitting in the client’s head.
Where my delivery wasn’t perfect or my recordings could use tidying up (especially my early stuff) I fund clients more than willing to run through re-records and tweaks to get things perfect, my voice was in their head and that was what they were using. It often didn’t matter my audition had been submitted up against someone with decades of experience and ll of the top equipment, it was my voice they wanted.
This also conversely brings me onto one of the worst aspects of doing voice over. Those times when you’re not the right fit for the job. Now, its all well and good if you find yourself in the above situation and you land a gig, but, the majority of the time you’ll hear nothing at all from the client.
No acknowledgment, no “thanks for submitting”, no feedback on what they want done differently. You may start to wonder if your internet is working properly as you slam into a wall of absolute silence. Sitting quietly with the curtains closed, contemplating the seeping existential dread that surrounds everything… No? Just me?
This was doubly hard for me in the early days as, coming from the millennial generation, we expect feedback on everything we do. Those primary school days where I remember getting a “well done” sticker in the egg and spoon race have set me up for nothing but disappointment since.
However, the takeaway here is that it’s OK to be ignored, that’s just the way the world is when you’re a freelancer, people are gonna like you or they ain’t. It doesn’t get me down anymore, it only makes those times I do succeed all the better.
So, my key takeaway on having the “right” voice would be this: Remember, the client is absolute king. Basically, if they’re willing to pay for your work, then boom. You’ve just discovered you have the right voice for this industry.
So, now you’ve got the confidence that someone out there is actually looking for your voice style, what next?
It’s also all about performance and delivery
So, now you know there isn’t really a one size fits all voice over artist style out there, you can start to put the work in where it matters. Improving your performance and perfecting your delivery.
These days in voice over its all about the “natural” delivery, a boat load of clients will ask for this wonderfully vague piece of direction when they have a job to put together.
The best advice I can give for this one is that they’re basically looking for you to sound as if you’re talking to a friend or something, you know, speaking like a normal human being. I’ve personally find that really does help, as I’m reading through a script I’ll imagine I’m telling a friend or family member about whatever topic I’m reading about.
This also helps when emphasising certain words, if I can picture an audience it helps bring out that more natural emphasis.
Now, I’ll heavily caveat this (and all my blogs for that matter!) that these are just my thoughts and opinions based on some personal experiences. You’re going to need to do a LOT of practice reads before you start to nail the performance and delivery aspects of voice over, and we’re talking daily here.
I’ve mentioned the good people at Edge studio before (they’re not paying me although it would be wonderful if they did…) who have many thousands of scripts you can get your teeth into to build up that experience here.
There will be other aspects clients will consider before hiring a voice over artist like price, turnaround time, quality of recordings and even your attitude when communicating with them. However, these are all things you can tweak and work on as you gain more experience.
The biggest takeaway today though is to just go for it. If you get yourself out there enough, there’s a good chance you’ll find a client that likes your voice you just have to take the leap!