Voice Over Newbies……

From Gary Terzza

VO Masterclass

One of the features of the industry is that it is in a constant state of flux – genres come in and out of fashion. Take audioboooks; these were once the preserve of leading actors and personalities such as Martin Jarvis, Miriam Margolyes and Stephen Fry. But now there are so many books published every year (in excess of 100,000 in English alone) that demand for narrators has skyrocketed.  You could make a similar case for videogames and explainer videos which only existed (if at all) on a small scale a few years ago.

If you bought a ‘how to’ book back in 2005, chances are you would need to buy yourself a new, revised copy… if there is one.

Crystallising everything I know about voice overs into some bite-sized chunks of knowledge would be impossible; in fact even though I have produced a number of blogs and videos on the subject, I feel I am only just starting to scratch the surface. So when the nice folks at VoicesUK asked me to write a Beginners’ Top  Ten Tips, I knew it was going to be a tough call. Perhaps 100 maybe?  How about a 13 part series?

So please take my list as a basic introduction. Some of you will be thinking ‘tell us something we don’t already know’, whilst others may think this is all there is to know. It isn’t. There is so much more. Notwithstanding, and after a cup of strong Earl Grey and a jam tart (well two actually), I have produced the following pointers. Let us scratch that surface together.

In no particular order:

Read Aloud.  Do this whenever you can, in the bath, in the car, in your kitchen, don’t just mumble – perform.  It’s the best way to practice. Incorporate a wide variety of material from fiction to history books, gossipy magazines to cultural articles. Breadth and diversity are key.
Set Goals. Give yourself a time-frame and decide where you want to be in 6, 12, or 18 months. Make these achievable and realistic. Start with making your showreel and honing your craft and aim to secure some work, however small. It will be a great confidence booster.
Be a Business. You are a professional voice artist, so keep accounts, receipts and develop a charging structure. Create a business plan with projections over the next one, two and three years. Of course you won’t know exactly how much you will earn, but keeping tabs on your expenses will give you an idea of your bottom line.
Know Your Market(s). Keep an eye on the internet and become an expert on new trends. Are there exciting genres your voice would suit? What are the hot topics doing the rounds? Follow the VO influencers on social media and see what they have to say… you will be learning from the experts.
Set Up A Home Studio. This sounds rather grand, but really it is just a quality microphone, your computer and lots of soft furnishings to improve the acoustics. For recording software download Audacity; it’s easy to learn how to use… and free!
Volunteer. Join a hospital, community or student radio station. This will help with your microphone technique and timing. Joining an amateur dramatics group will give you a deep insight into script delivery and characterisation.
Persist. How dare that TV channel reject your voice demo!? Try again after a few months. Still being shunned? Keep on sending out your voice-reel; a phone call to a production company’s creative director may just yield a positive result and at the very least will raise your profile and signify your interest.
Advertise. Hand out your CD or YouTube link on a business card to people you meet, or try a classified ad or Google Adwords. Set up your VoicesUK showcase – it has great Google ranking and with links to your own social networks along with a direct contact form you’ll help yourself be found – exposure is key to creating brand awareness. When you have a new demo announce it on Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook and provide a link (e.g. on Soundcloud) so everyone can hear it. In short,  let the world know you exist.
Think Laterally. Does your local garage need a better on-hold message? Is that estate agent making a promotional video for their website? What about those start-ups on the outskirts of town. You have the voice, so offer them your services.
Keep Your Demos Fresh. Every time you record a job, always ask for a copy of your performance and add this to your voicereel. Review the content on a regular basis; your reel should be dynamic and forever changing, just like a CV.

Unlike the original Ten Commandments, mine are not set in stone, but I hope they give you some useful ideas. Other voice over professionals may make different suggestions, so (as I mention in point 4) learn from the industry’s key players as well.

Be inspired and go for it – your career as a British voiceover artist is just around the corner


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *