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Hiring a VO? 5 Tips to Set Your Voice Over Project Up for Success

Tanya Chopp | August 1, 2017

The hands of five people are placed on a table, each one working away at a puzzle or sketching out a solution to a problem.

There is no easier, or faster, way to source voice over talent than by becoming a Voices client member.

However, just because the platform is easy to use, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to get the most out of your experience.

These five tips provide a helping hand so that you are able to create the best experience possible, both for yourself and the amazing voice over artist you’ve selected. Plus, a smoother experience also means that you’ll can save valuable time and money along the way. And who doesn’t love that?

Tip #1 – The Smoothest Recording Projects Always Come with a Creative Brief

Creative briefs are often touted for their value, while simultaneously pushed aside due to timing constraints. It can be really hard to pace your project at the outset, skipping forward to doing instead of planning.

So what’s the harm in pushing forward into full-fledged work mode, especially when you’re pretty sure you know exactly what you need to do anyway?

Working without a project brief often results in miscommunication, misaligned expectations between your business and outside workers hired to help with your project, and project completion delays, as work has to be sent back to the studio.

A good creative brief will allow your producer and/or voice talent to understand not just the task at hand, but why it’s so important to your business, and the performance style that will help your project meet its end goal.

Additionally, a good brief can help keep your messaging straight, even as it moves between internal teams and external vendors, because each person will have a clear document to refer to. There’s no opportunity for meaning or intention to be misconstrued, or for deviations in direction.

Tip #2 – Make Sure Your Voice Over Script is Ready

As a scriptwriter, you have to strike a balance between including the right tone and reading level that appeals to your target audience, with a writing style that flows like natural dialogue for the voice actor.

You may think your script is ready because you’ve been able to weave in all of the right messaging and have ensured that it hits the proper timing, but there are a couple more considerations to run through before it’s really ready to be read.

One of the most common scriptwriting pitfalls is related to an assumption that any voice actor can pick up any script and intuitively know how to read complex language. A script that is ready to be handed over to the voice actor will break down difficult pronunciations and contain no, or minimal, industry jargon.

Tip: This post covers voice over sample scripts for elearning, which often cover complex or dry subject matter and bring it to life.

Breaking down the content in the script is especially important for projects that are:

  • Scientific
  • Medical
  • Educational
  • Created for a niche industry

Before marking it as ready to record, hand your script over to someone who isn’t related to the project and ask for them to read it over, flagging where they need to pause for clarity – or where they get tripped up in the read. You may be surprised at where they stumble. Even common words, like ‘onomatopoeia’ or ‘charcuterie’ can cause trouble for advanced readers.

Bonus: An Emmy-Award winning scriptwriter shares her tips for script writing.

In addition to vetting the script (as above), you can also:

Reduce industry jargon in your script that would be confusing to the audience

For example, do they know what ISO stands for? Or should you simply say “International Standard of Operations, or ISO, for short.”

Highlight special pronunciations for words and abbreviations for the voice actor

For example, is it I-S-O or ‘aiy-so?’

If you have specialized content to deliver in a vocal performance, then hire an actor with experience that relates to your project area

If you haven’t already looked, you may be surprised to find that some voice over artists label niche industries in their profile descriptions or audition tags, because they are skilled in these areas, such as medical writing.

Set aside some extra time for revisions

Especially if you aren’t able to complete 1-3.

Tip #3 – Make Sure You Choose the Right Service Level Option for Each Project

If you’re asking yourself, “I have options?” then this should serve as good news!

Voices has two service level options, which can be viewed in detail online.

However, as a quick overview, clients can opt for:

  1. Full-service, where a dedicated account manager assists you with all aspects of the voice over sourcing process, or
  2. Self-service, in which you manage the job posting and sourcing process yourself.

There are a number of reasons why you may elect to choose one option over the other, and there is no ‘wrong’ path to go down.

The most important part is simply knowing that you have a choice in the first place. And on that front, it never hurts to quickly review which Voices service level is right for you.

As you know, your needs can change from one project to the next, which is why your service level is never set in stone. You have the option to choose self-serve or full-serve for each project you hire for.

Tip #4 – Don’t Leave Voice Over Casting to the Last-Minute

Okay – let’s first clarify that, yes, Voices eats last-minute projects for breakfast. You can get custom auditions in less than 24 hours, and even final files, in some cases, in just 48 hours.

So what’s the problem with waiting until you’re down to the wire?

Whether you’re casting a voice over actor or trying to make dinner reservations, last-minute tasks tend to come with more stress than they’re worth.

Plus, given that the voice over performance tends to be the element that brings the human experience to your piece – coloring the whole tone of your video, or driving home your call-to-action in a compelling way, it always pays to set aside time and budget earlier in your project management timeline.

Not only will you have a clearer picture of the kind of voice you’re hiring, you’ll also have a dedicated budget line set aside so that you’re not scraping the bottom of your funding when it comes time to hire.

Tip #5 – Whenever Possible, Provide the Voice Actor with These Tools

There are a couple key items that clients can provide to voice actors to set them up for success in the first take (and therefore, save you valuable money in the long run!).

As mentioned above, a pronunciation guide is crucial when your script pertains to niche industries or is set at an academic reading level.

But other items that can help along the way include:

When applicable, provide a sample of the end product to the voice actor

A cut (even a rough cut) of the visuals that the voice will be matched to. Often your video or animated treatment is ready in advance of the voice over being completed. Many voice actors feel it’s helpful to be able to see this material so they can match their voice to the timing and character.

Give descriptive vocal direction

Whether delivered in a written format or live, direction can literally be worth its weight in gold, helping voice actors get the read down quickly and saving you production time (as well as post-editing cleanup!). Some actors offer live-directed sessions, but all can benefit from a description of the read style, speed, inflections and number of different takes you are expecting to receive.

Trust in the creative process and the voice actor’s skill

Once you’ve made your expectations for the end product clear, take a step back and see what the voice actor does. While under directing is an issue, over directing can also be troublesome. You’ve hired a professional voice actor for a reason, and part of what they bring to the table is an ability to identify what vocal approach will bring out the best in the copy – and help you towards your end goal.

Engage in ongoing open dialogue with the voice actor

Seasoned voice actors will flag areas in the script where they could use a nudge in the right direction, as well as inquire on your project parameters. Make sure that you have an open door to field their questions, as best as possible, so that you can get the end-product that you’re expecting.

Ready to Get Started on Your Voice Over Project?

Getting started on Voices is easy (if you’re reading this, you likely already signed up for a free account!).

If you’re curious to explore all that the site has to offer, you can also peruse voice talent by age, role, accent, language and more.

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