Blog March 2014

Getting Started in Voiceovers- Your Demo

Posted On: March 16, 2014

Continuing the series of blogs on getting started in voiceovers, todays topic is the ever-important DEMO.

  Now that you're all that set up, Tax ID, logo, invoices, equipment and  a place to record etc, you’ll need to put together a demo(s).  Afterall, how are potential clients going to know what you sound like? Demos are compilations of your 'best' work and are assembled into 1 file.  You're going to put them your site and they'll be what you'll send to clients who ask for them.  Some will take an MP3; some, a CD. 

  Demos are broken up into categories:  commercials (for radio/tv), narrations, promos, characters, impersonations and on-hold messges etc...  Commercials and on-hold messages are (obviously) what they say they are; promos can carry a few sub-categories:  radio, tv, events, announcments...etc; however, narrations (in my opinion) carry the greatest number of sub-categories:  there are documentaries, audiobooks, presentations, 'how-to' demonstrations, walking tours, training material, medical and legal narrations (for the terminology) and whole bunch more. 

  When you put together your demo, regardless of what category you're using, your very best recordings should be at the front; not your favorite...your best; you can add your favorite from the middle on.  Get feedback from others on your recording.  What they like about your recordings...may not be the same that you like. Demo clips don't necessarily have to come from the beginning of a recording; it could come from the middle or end, as well.

  To put together a demo you'll need to compile some of your best work; but if you're new to the business how can you do that?  Practice scripts.  Practice scripts are (or were) actual scripts that were recorded (and probably aired) at an earlier date (perhaps a couple of months ago, maybe a year or 2); and they're usually NATIONAL spots.  The Edge Studio (  is a great place to find practice scripts for every category there is and alot of other info on 'STUFF' (lol).  I wouldn't recommend writing your own material, unless you're an establised writer.  You can find practice scripts at some of the 'pay-to-play' sites, as well;,, (I'll go into the 'pay-to-play' sites on another blog).

  On to the demo(s)...

  If you've sought out other voice talent you noticed that most list a few demos on their site (usually commercial, narration, promos and maybe on-hold).  Some list more...some less; so you're going to need more than 1, also.  While you were there, did you... 

- LISTEN to the demos; to the clips (usually around 10 seconds each)? Listen to the inflections?  Did you hear any music or sound effects?

- count how many spots were in the demo?  That's about how many you'll need to record.

- notice how long the demo was? 

A commercial demo averages 60-90 seconds (max); a promo and on-hold demo,'bout a minute; a narration demo can last up to 3 minutes. have some practice scripts to record for your commercial demo:  Record them- in their entirety; pretend you're voicing the spot for airplay….then what?  They have to be edited and ‘cleaned up’- do you know how to do that?  There are lots of videos on YouTube that can show you how.  Do you want to add any music?  Sound effects? What about putting any effects to your voice?  There's videos for that, too. When you're done with the demo and you're happy with it move on to your next demo; narrations, on-hold messages, promos...etc.

These are all things to consider when you want to put together a demo; or, you could pay to have them produced (shameless plug)-  JustMyVoice Production can produce your demos. 

by Rich Brennan


Getting Into Voiceovers- Training

Posted On: March 11, 2014

In the continuing blogs about getting started in voiceovers, today I'll talk about training.

  As with any other profession, training plays a big part in your job as a voice talent. Sure…anyone can ‘read out loud’, but can you tell the difference between someone reading out loud and someone telling a story?  It’s amazing how different it sounds.  A professional voiceover recording is someone telling you a story, with that person being an expert at what you're hearing; because it sounds natural, unrehearsed and it doesn’t sound like their reading, right?  Well…they ARE reading; and they’re probably not an expert in what they’re telling you; in most cases, they probably don’t have the slightest idea what they’re talking about, even though it sounds like they do.  Translating the written word into a voiceover recording is not easy; you have to control your breathing, know where the inflections are, how to sound emotional, natural, authoritative…etc.  There are some great books, training programs, workshops and coaches out there that can help you get going (usually for a fee); all ya gotta do is go out…and do it.  They're not that hard to find.

   To get you started, do a search for some practice scripts or you can pick an advertisement in the newspaper (any advertisement) and TELL a story about the ad; just tell about it, don’t ‘read it’…tell the story.  Tell it in a few different ways:

        Tell it in a non-chalant way…(matter of fact), like in a conversation.

        Say (in an excited way) how it’s the greatest thing in the world; and how you'd be so much better with it.

        Explain it to a person has no idea what you’re talking about.

        Be sarcastic about the ad

        Ponder if this product would benefit you.

   Use hand gestures (you can hear those); smile, you can hear that, too.  Record it if you’re able.  You can use your phone; or, in one of those rare instances- record it on your computer using the mic that came with the computer.  I know I said (in an earlier blog) about not using the mic that came with your computer; but this is for training purposes.  If you do have a professional recording setup (or access to one), use that. This way you’ll be able to save your recordings for comparison.  When you’re done- play it back and listen to what it sounds like.  If you know someone in the business, ask if they’ll critique it for you. 

  While you’re watching tv…LISTEN to the commercials (instead of changing the channel), the same goes with radio.  Do you like documentaries?  LISTEN to the narrator.  Have training seminars at work?  LISTEN to the narrator.  How do they ‘sound’?  They all sound like an expert in what you're hearing, right?  You can sound like that, too; it just takes a little work on your part.

  If you’re looking to do narrations or audiobooks, pick up a book or a magazine article  and ‘tell the story’.  Audiobooks are tougher because you have to be the narrator and the characters.  The narrator voice could be all you…natural sounding, while the character voice has to sound different from the narrators voice and the other characters; sometimes of the opposite gender.  Search out and sample some audiobooks and you’ll hear what I’m talking about.

  For short voice recordings (up to 2:00, or so), you may want to memorize the script; some like to scan it over a few times before recording.  It depends on what works best for you.  For long-form narrations, reading a book (before recording it) might not fit into the time constraints.  Perhaps reading the chapter first, then recording it, might work; again, it depends on what you’re comfortable with.

 Good Practices:

When you’re recording have a bottle of water handy, the mouth tends to dry up pretty fast with all that air going back and forth. 

Things to avoid:

Avoid eating a big meal prior to recording.  Having a full stomach going into a recording session may leave you feeling winded.  For you to speak your diaphragm needs room to move, if you have a full stomach the diaphragm doesn’t have that room and it leaves you feeling a little out of breath when you record.  It also has an effect on the pitch of your voice.  If you have a meal-break in the middle of a session- eat light.

Don't hold a script in your hand; if the paper is rustled the mic will pic it up; it'll also prevent you from using your hands- as a gesture.  Use a stationary object, like a sheetmusic stand.

Carbonated beverages- nothing worse than being halfway through a script and you belch one out; not very professional either.

Dairy products:  They tend to leave a film in your mouth.

Citrus juices:  Have a tendency of constricting the muscles in your mouth; if anything dilute it with water.

Or you can...

 Just use water


by Rich Brennan