What Makes a Great Voice Over Demo?

If you’ve come to this site before, chances are you’ve heard me harping on about the value of a great voice over demo. It’s your ticket to booking that audition, and hopefully job. So what makes a great voice over demo? I’m still fairly new to the voice over game, but I’ve already learnt a lot about what I think makes a great voice reel. Hope you enjoy…

What type of voice reel are you making?

Before we get started it’s important to note that there are a few different types of voice reels, and it’s always good to keep them separate. This article is discussing a commercial demo¬† – a collection of commercial spots (7- 30 seconds each) combined together into a reel around 1-3 minutes in length. (1.30 minute max for those starting out).

Commercial Demo – This is what this article is about.
Character Demo – funny voices, interesting characters
Promo Demo – stingers and short promos (TV, Film etc)

We will go into the other types over the next few weeks. The commercial demo is the most common and unless you are trying to get into character voice overs, I would start with a commercial reel.

#1 You

I work with agencies all the time and the biggest thing I’m asked to do when I’m recording a new voice reel for an actor, is to make it natural. To get their “real” voice.

Most of the jobs you will be going for in the real world will be based around your natural voice. Voice actors typically fall into brackets, like with acting. You might have a higher voice and fall into the teenage/young adult category, or you might have natural low and resonant voice and will lean towards roles like “annoucer” or “blokey”. Whichever casting you may fall into should be based on your natural voice, not a forced voice.

You will of course become more versatile as time goes on, but to begin with, it’s best to play to your strengths.

Always have a good number of spots on your reel that are casual and based around your natural voice. This doesn’t mean they are low energy or monotonous (that’s not what we want), but don’t go smashing out a bunch of accents and voices that aren’t likely to be your casting.

#2 Variety

So I’ve just been rambling on about being you, and now I’m talking variety… Whaaa? Even within your natural voice you can find a lot of range and variety. Look for dynamic, intensity and emotion.

Great to always have a hard sell (strong very classic advert style), soft sell (easy going friendly advert), something friendly, something sentimental such as a charity ad, something with a bit of pace, something funny.

Tip: people always forget that they are funny when they are making their voice reels.

Tip: getting variety starts with having some awesome copy for your reel. Check out voice over scripts to start getting a great reel planned.

#3 Emotion

Emotion sells. Actors often forget to find the emotion or the soul in the ads. And I get it, it sounds evil. Using your acting chops to sell products. But you have to use your emotional range.

If an advert is appealing to a listeners compasion you have to appeal. You have to find that emotion.

If you are trying to sell a mobile phone, and it’s fun and exciting ad, you need to excite the listener.

This can be tough. What I recommend is to remember that voice acting is acting! If you need to find joy for an advert put on a great big smile. Sounds silly, but you can hear that smile in the recording.

#4 Clarity

Your voice sounds great, you’ve nailed the script, you’ve found the emotion, but if you can’t be understood, your reel falls flat. Always do some vocal warm ups before any voice over work, focusing on articulation.

A few tips of voice over reel success [Video]


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