A Guide to VoiceOver Essentials!

5 Things You Must Know

There’s no doubt about it working in voiceover is amazing!

In my long career, I’ve covered every aspect of what gets made.   And apart from some very rare instances, have loved it all.

Here’s a link to my personal website, for a look at what’s come before http://abbeholmes.com

I love the spontaneity of working in voiceover, the creative collaboration with sound engineers and producers, and I also love both the challenges and opportunities that this new digital landscape brings.

As a coach, I run courses and work with people privately in Melbourne and do Skype coaching for those who can’t do face-to-face.

I also get many emails and calls from those wanting to work in voiceover and needing to find out how to get a start.

Today I want to talk you through some things you will need to know and process before you venture into voiceover-land.

First up

Is this for you?

You may be a trained actor or someone from a radio background and you feel you have the skills for voiceover.

Some of you will have been told by others that you have a great voice. If you’re told that by those who hear you over the phone, then they’re talking about your ‘disembodied voice’.

Well happily that’s what you use when you’re working in voiceover.

You may have been entertaining people for years with your character voices. You can mimic other people or personalities and would love to work in animation.

You may work for a company who has requested your voice for some of the digital applications businesses require these days and you think. “Hey I wonder if I could do this in the real world?”

The question you really need to answer before you start out on the road is whether you have enough of the skills that are needed to work in this area.

You will have heard this before. Hey, I’m always saying it,

‘Voiceover is not just about your voice. It’s about a whole list of other considerations before it’s about what voice you would choose to read the script.’

And of course when you’re working in voiceover you’re being asked to read many, many different kinds of voice scripts. This is why training is so important


Training for voice acting is essential.

Working in Voiceover is very niche and there’s no such thing as a University Degree. But voiceover it’s a real skill, that takes training.

To be able to move forward, you need to understand how to tell the story in each script; and every script is a story, even if it’s the story of how great the ‘socks sale’ is J

Training on your own is hard.  No feedback, no guidance, no checks.  Hard!

You need guidance and direction. You need to find a reputable coach who is still working in voiceover either as talent or as a producer.

Find someone who will work best with your particular qualities and skills to champion what’s good and work on what’s weak.

And while you’re training you’ll have to be doing this.


You’ll need to know a whole lot about the landscape of voiceover in the area you live. You also need to know where the opportunities to get work are, for someone with your voice type and voiceover skills.

Listen mindfully to what’s out there in the world of the disembodied voice. You’ll hear it everywhere, radio TV, online, on apps, in store and at events.

This is what I call the free training because it’s this kind of research you need to be doing all the time if you’re working in voiceover.

I’m often amazed at people I coach who don’t ever listen to commercial radio or television and always skip the ad after 3 seconds online.

Listening to what’s out there mindfully is a great way to absorb knowledge.

A tip for ‘watching’ an online or TV ad that has a voiceover on it.

The first time you see it, watch and work out how the three elements, sound bed, visuals and voiceover work together.

Then next time you see it, look away and just listen.

You’re listening for a style that the voice artist may have created to work with those two elements. Remember the voice is always applied last on a TV ad.

Listen for how the voiceover may not have to work as hard as someone who’s doing an ad for radio. In radio you’re appealing to a half-listening audience and are responsible for creating all the right visuals for the read.

Listen to other voice demos. Look at voice agent websites and listen to what other voice artists are doing. This will help you understand what got them representation and also the acceptable industry standard for professional voice demos.

Then listen to what works with their performances and how they understand how to convey the right meaning in the script.


Having a brilliant demo that showcases your talents and abilities is an essential tool.

Making a brilliant demo should never be rushed.

A great voice demo is a real expense. You need to know where you fit in voiceover. You need to have nailed the techniques for approaching different script styles and understand how to use your voice to give each script its own personality.

So you want to make sure that before you go to this expense you have covered off these things:

  • You know what you’re good at
  • You’re confident in the studio
  • You understand how to take direction
  • You know how to approach scripts that you’d be cast for
  • You’ve sourced (or worked with a coach to source) the right kind of scripts for you
  • You’ve researched where you would direct your demo to get cast

You need to be at a point in your training where you are confident that making a demo and any further investment will give you a return.

And as an aside, in today’s crowded landscape just having a good demo will never guarantee you that.

My last advice for you is all about the tenacity it takes to start working in voiceover.

Getting traction in a crowded marketplace

Okay, now to the reality check.

Voiceover is one of those careers that is not easy to get into.  There might be a lot of work out there, but there’s also a lot of people looking for that work,

I will only happen if you can understand how to see it as a business rather than a job.

You always need to think about your particular voiceover style – and what you bring to voiceover – as a product that you’re selling.

That product can have a a brand or tag just as any product you many be advertising in the commercial area.

The secrets are:

  • Making sure you are heard by the right people
  • Making sure every job is an opportunity to build a relation ship.
  • Making sure you can be easily found via a website or links in any email you may send
  • Making a plan to contact studios, production houses or business in your area or further afield to let them know you’re there

As you become more experienced and learn more about the skills and techniques of voice acting, you need resilience to stay focused on your goals and connected with your passion.

I’d be ‘whistling Dixie’ if I told you it was an easy ride. It ain’t.

But if you have the talent and can apply your skills to all that’s needed, you can get there.

And when you do, you’ll find that working in voiceover is truly amazing.

Happy Voiceover journey!