5 ways to avoid a voice over fail

Copy of blog post_ decisions
avoid the fall

Getting a voice for your project is easier than ever. You can find and book a voice actor online, email a script over to them, they record from their home studio and then send the voice over back to you. It’s highly likely you’ll never meet the artist that’s the voice of your brand, product or project.


It’s fast. It’s efficient. It’s easy as. But there’s also a chance that you won’t end up with the voice over you were hoping for.

So before you book, here’s 5 relatively painless things you can do to avoid a vo fail.


1. Script well.
Always read your script out loud to make sure it flows and to get an accurate idea of how long it is.

Sometimes the written word can sound a little awkward out loud. We don’t always speak like we write. Read your script out to someone and ask them if it sounds natural. Check whether they understand what it is you want them to do after they hear the information.

And while I take it as a personal challenge to cram 45 seconds of copy into a 30 second spot, the end result will sound like a race call on speed. If your script is time critical (read: pretty much any commercial), time your script when you are reading it out loud. Reading in your head doesn’t count.

reading a script


2. Do your research.
Before choosing a voice, have a listen to voice over demos. Work out if the sound, tone and styles are in line with what you’re looking for.

Once you’ve shortlisted artists, ask questions. Find out how long they’ve been in the industry and what training they’ve had. Find out who they’ve worked with before.

If you know your studio stuff, ask about equipment (us vo peeps could talk mics all day). And ask for a sample read to see how they fit your script. This will also give you a good idea of the quality of their equipment, room treatment and editing prowess.


3. Give good direction.
Once you select a voice, tell them what you’re looking for.

I’m not just talking ‘friendly’ or ‘conversational’ written in the notes section of your script. Be an over-sharer. This is probably the one time it’s a good thing.

Answer these questions: What is your product? Why is it unique? What problem does it solve? Who is your audience? How old are they? What do you want them to do? How do you want them to feel? Where will the voice over be used? How long does it need to be? Oh yes, we love a good backstory.



4. Pay attention to details.
Provide pronunciations. Phonetic spelling is good. Audio examples are ideal. Especially for brand names or words we can’t check easily online. I’m looking at you medical and scientific community.

How do you prefer phone numbers grouped and read? Double seven? Or seven, seven? What about the year? Are you a twenty seventeen or two thousand and seventeen type?

And websites—gosh the debates over ‘slash’ versus ‘forward slash’. It’s all in the details people.


5. Know what you want.
Often an afterthought, be clear with what you want to take home at the end. File formats, naming conventions and audio sharing, oh my. Wave or mp3 please.

How do you want it? Email, Dropbox or maybe you’re old school with a thing for CDs? Do you want the full session recording, multiple takes or a single edited track to time?

Let’s talk compression, de-breathing and any extras like sound effects or background music.

It’s also worth finding out how you pay the artist—especially if they need part payment upfront or you’re working with an international artist.

decisions decisions


So invest a little effort up front to make sure your voice over fits perfectly. And if you’re looking for your next voice, please have a listen to my demos and hit me up for a sample read.


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