Getting Voice Over Demos to Work For You

Are your Voice Over demos working for you?

There’s one certainty in voice over and this is it!

Your voice over demos or any voice sample you present, must be absolutely brilliant if you want to get noticed by:

  • producers,
  • engineers, and
  • casting agents

If you’re just beginning in voice over, knowing how to craft your voice over demos is crucial to getting traction.

And if you’re already working, knowing when to expand your repertoire by creating new voice over demos will also help increase your potential for work!

A great voice over demo needs planning.

Here are the 5 common mistakes I see with voice over demos.

  1. A lack of care and attention that goes into planning and producing some voice over demos,
  2. Mistakes made by people who record their voice over demos before they’re ready to work professionally,
  3. Out-dated script and reading styles – you need to research what’s being made right now and find scripts and practice styles that fit with that,
  4. Demos that sound the same from one read to the next. It’s not enough that you’re reading a different script, you need to be able to ‘sound’ different. That is, give each script is own personality, and
  5. Poor sound production – you must be able to present a professionally recorded voice over demo to be taken seriously.

And here are the 3 biggest problems with voice over demos.

Problem number 1 – loading your voice over demos with accents and character voices

I have voice over demos sent to me by those who’d love to work in the ‘commercial’ world of voice over (TV and radio) that have far too many character (cartoon) voices and accents.

You must get the content right for your demo – this means knowing who you’re targeting your voice over demo to and what it is they want to hear.

Don’t forget, voicing ads is not about you! It’s about:

  • the product, the advertiser’s message and the audience you’re targeting your message to,
  • the language in the script, such as the concept (or story) of the script,
  • finding key words and phrases, so you know where to place emphasis, and
  • how you’re going use your voice to deliver the message in the script.

The fact that you can change your voice and do accents is wonderful – it shows versatility and a love of the craft of voice acting.

But building a character voice over demo is totally different to creating a voice over demo for TV and radio work!

When you listen to the commercial world of television and radio, you’ll mostly hear everyday voices delivering the advertisers message.

You’ll also hear very ‘stylised’ reads.  For instance the big energised voices (usually male) for ‘promo’ and ‘trailer’ reads.

You’ll also hear ‘retail’, both male and female, doing price and product or sale/discount ads – also very energised.

So, for the commercial world, you’re required to create a style that marries with the intention of the script.

With all the radio and TV work I do, less than 10% of it, is accent or character work!

The other negative about delivering voice over demos that are loaded with character voices is that, whoever hears it needs to be sure that you know what you’re doing, so they need you to be voicing actual commercial scripts.  

If they just hear a bunch of characters, they won’t even know whether you’re reading from a script or just improvising.

If you do want to work in animation, you need to craft a voice over demo to send to animation producers. You need to:

  1. source images of characters,
  2. find short excerpts of script, that are different enough to show your character’s range, and
  3. send the image along with the audio clip of you voicing that character.

You’ll have a much better chance of getting an audition if you can prove that you can create a winning voice for a particular character.


Problem number 2 – not knowing what kind of voice you have

I’ve coached some people who say they ‘want’ to do a certain type of voice over. And when I work with them, I discover that what they’d ‘like’ to be doing is not something they’d ever be cast for!

Your disembodied voice on an audio file is the first thing a prospective employer will hear. And that voice can sometimes bear little resemblance to who you are in the world and sometimes not even related to your biological age.

And those listening will decide whether you’re someone they want to work with, at between the 5 and 15 second point of the demo. If you successfully impress and affect them with your reads, they’ll listen on.

They want you to be great, because they want to find a voice that the client will love. They’re looking for someone who’ll get the client’s message out there in a compelling and engaging way.

When you put together a compilation demo or put samples onto your website, they definitely need to say:

  • this person knows what they’re doing,
  • the samples are scripts this person would be cast for, and
  • this person understands how to find and deliver the meaning in the message


Problem number 3 – believing you can go it alone

If you’ve already identified what you’re good at (or could be good at) then that’s a great start!

But even if you’re sure about where you’d fit, you still need guidance when it comes to packaging and presenting your talents.

Find a coach to work with – make sure it’s someone actively working in the voice over industry.

A good coach will:

  • help you work out what it is about your voice that someone will love,
  • help you find the right kind of scripts for your voice, and
  • teach you performance and microphone techniques that will help you know how to approach a script – and to create the right style and mood.

When you are building a career in voiceover, there are many steps to take before you’re truly ready to book work.

And when it comes to your demo, it needs to be you at you absolute voicovery best!