When asked to sound like a cosmetics commercial, movie announcer, or game show host you should be able to snap to those kinds of highly stylized personalities without flinching.

How does one accomplish that?

Aside from training with a voice-over coach, to become better at understanding basic creative direction study the voice-overs in TV commercials and listen intently to radio commercials.  Practice imitating the voice-over until you’ve got the technique down. Describe to yourself the sound and style of voice-over. Soon it will be second nature.

Getting a handle on that kind of direction is as easy as listening to the world around you. But, there is no doubt, creative direction can be little off-the-wall sometimes. When you’re asked to “Sound like a tree” or “Do a movie trailer voice, but more guy next door-y” it can become just a bit confusing. For some, this is even a frustrating point of contention.

But creative direction is necessary and an important part of understanding a company’s vision for their brand. Expressing an intangible or imagined thing can be difficult, so handling these situations with delicacy and grace is called for.

Perhaps the director has heard something similar before and that’s how they would describe it to themselves.  To decipher strange direction try picking out some of the key words and then think for a moment about what they represent or mean.

Take “Do a movie trailer voice, but more guy next door-y.” These two voice types are polar opposite at first glance. What they really may be asking for is a strong voice, but one without too much intimidation.

If they are asking you to “sound like a tree” that’s a little more tricky. That might represent a large and ominous or fluid and gentle,  like leaves swaying in the breeze. With this type of direction it is be best to ask the director for two or three adjectives to describe the character or brand.

Avoid disparaging remarks, especially in a public forum. Directors talk to one another just as talent do, and word-of-mouth recommendations can do so much to elevate a career. Maintain composure when discussing creative direction – remember it is a creative, fun job.

© iStockphoto.com/sdominick



  1. Being a former Creative Director, I always appreciated the voice talent that asked for clarification and were comfortable being collaborative. Too many times if they took direction at face value, it became lost in translation and never sounded like anyone wanted. As a voice talent, I approach it the same way. Ask clarifying questions or even go as far as having the client read it to see what words they hit or cadence choices. However there are times some directors have no idea what they really want (and they’ll never admit it). Which turns a simple :30 to a 3 hour session. The good ones know that they want. But always feel confident to; Ask. Try. Ask again.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here