Everyone's told you that you
have such a great voice that you should be doing
commercials or even be on the radio. What's the next
I'd recommend that you find a local voice demo class.
It may be called a voiceover workshop, voice training, voice
coaching or something like that. I'd suggest calling all your
local talent agents to find one that is highly respected.
Typically (at least in the Dallas area) you should be able to
find one in a classroom / stage type setting where you will be
among others also learning their skills. You could elect to
have private coaching but, naturally this will be more
expensive and anyway, it should be much more fun practicing
with others and is a good way to get your feet wet. Or should
I say your vocal chords lubricated : )
You've maybe taken some classes. You had a blast, learned a
whole lot and
you're now just itching to make a voice demo so that the whole
world can hear just how
great you sound.
The copy you choose is probably the most important element
in the whole process.
I advise you to spend a lot of time on this part as it's so
important. Use the internet to
listen to many demos of other people in your age/vocal style
range and really listen.
Download them and listen again carefully, really analyzing
them. Find the ones you think
you could do just as as good a job or maybe even better. But
first, ask yourself, "What is it that's good about the
way this spot sounds? What is the person doing to make the
copy come alive?" Listen carefully to all the
nuances, the inflections. These are what separate a mediocre
read from a great read.
Believe me, just having a good voice is nowhere near enough.
You have to be able to interpret and inflect, color the words,
bring the writer's cold words off the paper and give life to
them. I've worked with many a person who has been told they
have a wonderful voice but they have no idea how to read copy.
Interpreting copy is an art that can only be learned by doing.
Over and over and over. Your ear has to be trained to listen,
to distinguish the subtleties, to hear the hint of an eyebrow
being raised. Listen, Listen, Listen....to everything you can
get your ears around. Radio, television, movies. Don't sit
passively and be entertained. Listen with an analytical ear,
dissecting the words as they come off the actor's lips.
If an audition was held and the copy, to be honest, was pretty
lame and boring, and one person actually brought it to life
with their interpretation, who do you think the client would
When searching for your copy, first take a look at the
different styles of deliveries. There are many and you'll
first want to decide which ones are right for you. Keep in
mind that a total of somewhere between six and ten pieces is
plenty for a demo tape. More can easily be added in the
future. So concentrate on the styles which are your forte. As
well as the "nuts & bolts" announcer style of
read, you need to find copy that really speaks to you. That
pushes your buttons, makes you feel something, be it
Joy, Sadness, Anger, Compassion, Love,
Empathy, Excitement, Sympathy, Grief, Tenderness. If you have
chosen copy and none of it evokes some emotion in you, then
find some that does.
Remember, unlike an audition, this is your chance to do
whatever you do best. No restrictions, no limitations. So take
the time to find copy that makes you laugh, cry or at least
gets you interested in whatever it might be that you're about
to share with your audience. If the listener doesn't hear some
kind of emotion in your voice, he/she'll think you're not
interested in what your saying. Your demo is a reflection of
your personality, so as well as straight announcer copy, work
on finding copy that you can truly relate to. Copy that will
bring out the child in you, get you hopping mad, bring tears
to your eyes. Follow this advice, and you'll have the
foundation for a dynamite voice demo.
Once you have your copy, the next step is to rehearse and
rehearse and rehearse.
Record your voice on cassette as you rehearse. This is a
MUST. If you don't have one, borrow or purchase one from Radio
Shack for about $20 to $30. You can only be objective when you
can listen back to what you have been rehearsing and then you
can critique the delivery, intonation, inflection, speed, etc
and re-record. Then compare to the first recording. Only when
you're really happy with it can you go on to the next piece of
You're now ready to record. I'd suggest the same praxes for
finding a studio as you did with the voice class. By now your
network of broadcast people has blossomed so you can check
with all the new friends you've made, the talent agents and
the people doing the voice class to find a recording studio
and engineer/producer who comes highly recommended and whose
rates are reasonable. Don't go on just price. If possible ask
for samples and testimonials. If the studio is any good they
probably will have a web site with samples that you can listen
to and a rate sheet. A decent voice demo will cost (depending
on location) around $300 to $500. But again, do your homework
and listen to many samples and get some good recommendations
Now it's time to record in the studio and, if you have really
done your homework,
then you'll be able to concentrate on the feeling and delivery
of each spot and not worry too much about the words, as they
will be ingrained in your memory. This makes the recording
session go so much more smoothly and you will be so much more
relaxed and able to give the very best reads without stumbling
over copy that you don't know.
The recording session will typically last about one and a half
hours, during which
time you'll record various takes of each spot and, with the
help of your engineer/producer, you'll be surprised at how
good these voice tracks will be. You'll end up with a total of
maybe ten spots which I'm sure you will be happy with and feel
good about. If you did your homework, it will have been an
exhilarating experience, if not you might feel that you could
have done a better job on some. Either way, now it's time to
take these basic voice tracks and mold them into something you
might not even recognize when you hear the finished demo. The
producer will take these raw takes and produce them using
music and sound effects to enhance and embellish your read.
Gordon Nicol produces
Dynamite Voice Demos when he's not
voicing commercials himself.
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