Training and Voice Demos

Often, the first question I am asked is “How do I get a voice demo?”

People new to voice over know they need a good voice demo to get work, so their immediate objective is to find someone who will coach them through making a voice demo that sounds professional. They walk away from the studio with a demo that would make any voice artist proud, but they face one big problem:

They can’t recreate the work on the demo.

The reason? They lack comprehensive voice training and experience. They were provided a brief amount of training with a demo tied to the end of it. They were coached, sometimes word-by-word, through their performance by an experienced artist and had a talented engineer work their magic to produce a demo that makes them sound more skilled than they currently are. However, once they step into an audition or a job, they don’t have this type of hand-holding and special effects.

One of the biggest complaints I get from audio producers and directors is that voice artists are unable to match the work on their demos and end up wasting everyone’s time.

If you don’t sound like your demo, you’re not going to be called back.

The audition process is costly for clients, both in terms of time and money. They want you to nail your audition in a maximum of two takes. These days, clients are also frequently booking artists without auditioning, based on their demo reels. If you are booked for a job and then cannot perform to the same standard as your demo, you will never be called in again by that client or that producer or director. Also keep in mind that people in the industry talk to each other about who they work with!

Yes, you need a demo to get a job, but your demo should reflect your current level of skill. It is not a resume of what you have done, but what, realistically, you are capable of doing within one or two takes.

“So,” you ask me, “what do I do??”

Forget your demo for now and start working on your craft. You wouldn’t expect to get a job as a surgeon if you hadn’t been trained to do the job!

Thankfully you don’t need 10 years at medical school to do voice over, but you do need to get some training and/or coaching, and practice, practice, practice:
• Make a simple home studio that you can work in any free time you’ve got, it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.
Work on scripts every day. There are thousands of scripts online.
Play, play, play. You don’t have to get it right. Don’t be afraid to try things out, take risks and, most of all, have fun! When you are working at home and having a good time, you will be amazed at what you’ll come up with. You want to sound like a real person, in a real place, having a real experience.
Find a coach or class that works on you being you and not coming up with some type of weird generic VO performer. Two reasons:
1) Believe it or not, you being you will help you become confident much quicker.
2) Everyone is looking for something unique and only you can do you, so sounding like yourself is a good thing!

As you work on your confidence and your training, you will be ready for your first demo.
Keep it short: have maybe 3-4 clips of about 8-10 seconds each. For each clip, record a full 30 second piece and take out of that what you need, because the flow will sound much better than doing a single line for a clip.
Make sure the clips are different but all sound like you. Remember that you speak differently to the different people in your life. The way you speak to your mom, your boss, your puppy, your lover, your best friend, or a stranger on the street is different but all real and genuinely you. Try doing a script as if you were talking to your 3 year old daughter, and then do it again as though you were talking to your father. Sound different? You bet!

In a year or so you may want to check and do another demo as you become more confident and experienced.

This will take time, practice and training. It is a craft and an art, based on what you have inside and how much you put into it. There is no quick fix. If you are willing to put the work in and enjoy it, it won’t feel like you are working hard. It’ll just feel like you’re having fun!

Dan Willmott
Be Yourself, Be Real, Be Extraordinary

VoiceSpot offers comprehensive training with facilitators who are professional working voice artists.
– To get your voice over adventure started, have a look at our Level 1 class.
– If you have some experience and wish to kickstart your training, have a look at our Level 2 class.