Woman Speaking Voice Over into Microphone

We live in a world of choices.

Lots and lots of choices. But you don’t just have four or five options to sift through looking for products or services, but hundreds of possibilities.

And that vast array of choices includes voice over talents.

You can request auditions from agents around the country and receive dozens of respectable candidates from each agency. If you hit the online casting websites, you get another hundred… or six. You can even troll Google looking at voice talent’s personal websites and contact them directly for an audition.

This will net you another bucket full of auditions for review.

The Choices Can be Overwhelming.

Even though you have all these choices, it doesn’t mean you have to partake in the crazy.

Here are some ideas on how to narrow down the talent field and still find the perfect voice for your project:

 

Step 1: Select the Most Difficult Portion of Your Script for Auditions.

JoJo Jensen, Voice Over Specialist

If the script is chock full of tricky pronunciations or industry specific jargon, use this for your audition.

This will help you determine if narrators can make unfamiliar terminology sound like they have been saying these words all their life.

If you don’t include any pronunciations in the sample script (which you will in the final script, right?) you can also tell if your candidate has bothered to look up the words in order to say them correctly, or if they punted.

You want a through voice talent, not a punter.

Step 2: Choose a Gender for your Voice.

By simply picking whether you want a male or female VO talent to narrate your project, you have already narrowed your field by 50%!

Throwing projects open to both male and female talents can create even more confusion about what style and tone you are really looking for:

Woman Yelling Megaphone

It’s much easier to settle on one gender before you even throw the script out there for auditions.

What type of voice is default for your project? Maybe it’s time to go with the other gender to mix it up? Have you always had a male VO talent do your spots? Why not try a female talent for your next project? It’s easy – just pick one.

For more thoughts on this, also read Battle of the Sexes; Choose Between Male and Female Voice Talents.

Step 3: Choose a Single Casting Outlet per Project

Voices123. The Voicebank. Voices.com. The VoiceRelm. Agent 99. Big Fish Talent. The Lowery Group. In Both Ears. The Umberger Agency.

See, just finding where to post an audition can make you break out in hives.

To make the casting process more fun and less like getting a colonoscopy, choose only one source to place your call for auditions. Whether it’s a local agency or an international voice talent consortium, picking a single place to submit your project for auditions will still earn you a avalanche of choices, but without you getting buried in them.

Step 4: Go With Your Gut

Now that you have narrowed your field, it’s time to sit down and listen to samples.

As you hit play, listen to the auditions with your gut as well as your ears. Listen to small sound bites.

Woman Speaking Voice Over into Microphone

While you might not exactly know what you are looking for in a voice, you will be able to tell what voices don’t work. Go with your gut as you chop the choices down.

With the remaining group of voices, this time listen to larger samples, and break our hearts again as you choose your top contenders.

Step 5: Pick your Top 3 (Okay… Maybe 5)

Work the suggestions above until you whittle down the choices to the top three, or five if you must.

This is the time to take your top voices out for a spin and let your team, your client or production group listen and pick a winner.

Finalé: And the Winner Is…

Congratulations!

It takes a keen ear to discover the right voice for a project. It could be the cadence that sways you or the gravelly notes that speak to you or the slight smile that makes you smile back.

But you’ve found it!

Whatever moves you to choose the voice you choose, pat yourself on the back because you have conquered the embarrassment of voice over riches and have narrowed down your field to… “The One.”

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I would say one of the best ways to get an idea of what your project will sound like with a particular artist would be to listen to alot of demos. You might also be able to get the artist to do a sample for you as well on larger projects.

  2. Hey Jo-Jo,

    This was really well composed and provides great information for those looking to hire VO talent; especially the part about picking the most difficult portion of the script.

    One thing I think I should mention is – in respect to on-line casting websites – there’s huge differences between many of the ones you listed. I’m speaking primarily about Voice123 and Voices.com.. and other P2P websites (Pay to Play).

    P2P websites will take (subscription) money from a plumber and call him or her a voice talent. For the person looking for a voice, this can lead to a lot of frustration having to sift through 150 garbage auditions to find ‘the one.”

    Further still, these sites have been known to have Union members working under a pseudonym doing non-union work, which can present legal issues, especially if the content is broadcast.

    Buyer beware.

    In the end, hiring voice talent is like anything else; you get what you pay for. If one posts a low budget, one is going to get low-quality auditions. The higher the budget, the more likely the pros will come to the table.

    Kind regards,

    Todd Schick

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