Looking for Animation Voice Over Jobs? Learn What Clients Want

Tara Parachuk | May 21, 2018

a generation x man sitting with his feet on a desk in an office with headphones on, listening to voice actor audition demos.

As an entrepreneur (like all voice actors are!) it’s just good business to explore what clients want.

So, to help answer the age-old question, “What do clients look for in a voice actor?” it’s best to go right to the source: to the clients, of course!

In this article

  1. The Most Important Characteristic that Clients Look for in a Voice Actor
  2. What’s The Worst Thing a Voice Actor Can Do?
  3. How Can Voice Actors Be Effective Partners with Producers?
  4. How do Mistakes Made by Voice Actors Impact Producers?
  5. What Makes a Voice Actor a Star?
  6. To Recap: What Voice Actors Can Do to Win Repeat Business

Over the years, Voices has participated in or hosted several events aimed at helping voice actors to improve their business and their craft. One of the event series that Voices held in various cities throughout the US was called LevelUp. At this event, clients, coaches and voice actors came together to learn from one another and to network. During a panel session, three experienced clients — Jim Kennelly, Owner of Lotas Productions, Charlie Marks, Post-Producer at Mustache Agency and Megan Anttila, Executive Producer at Casual Films — took the audience on a deep dive into production and their expectations of voice actors who earn their business.

The Most Important Characteristic that Clients Look for in a Voice Actor

In this video, the panelists describe the single most important characteristic they look for in a voice actor.

Enthusiasm, owning the content and being a reliable production partner were the main points the panelists drove home. Interestingly, all of their points really tied together, and even though performance is known to be very important, none of their points had to do with the actual ‘read.’ According to our guests, it’s all about the working relationship and how a voice actor approaches that particular relationship.

Being enthusiastic in your approach to the opportunity (not just reading enthusiastically), preparing yourself to feel confident as the subject matter expert, and conducting yourself professionally, both inside and outside of a directed session, are all major indicators of a voice actor who earns repeat business!

What’s The Worst Thing a Voice Actor Can Do?

Next, panelists discussed their opinions on the worst thing a voice actor can do, which would put their working relationship in jeopardy.

This clip drives home a resounding opinion that voice actors who don’t ‘take direction well’ stand to lose business. However, it’s worthwhile to mention that voice actors who miss the mark aren’t necessarily doing so on purpose. Many voice actors may feel they’re taking direction in stride but still fall into this stumbling block. This suggests that it comes down to how a voice actor may be perceived by clients. So as a solution, let’s explore how we can help ourselves be perceived more positively when responding to direction.

Much like a voice actor does while recording, paying attention to your tone, pitch, rate of speech, and use of grammar and language are all ways to control how a client will perceive your response to their artistic direction.

We’re all human, so the urge to let out a huff when you’re frustrated or flustered is natural. However, even something as little as that is enough to skew how the client sees artistic direction being received.

‘Taking direction well’ can also mean being more open to creative interpretation of the direction being given. There are two things at play there: active listening, and a fearlessness to try things differently all the time. How far a voice actor is willing to push their boundaries to try and execute the read is a good indicator of someone who wins repeat business.

Active listening doesn’t just help you to be perceived more positively by clients. The science behind it says that active listening helps us to better digest information as well. In the case of voice actors, that helps to produce a more accurate output of the artistic direction clients give.

Restating is one of the most commonly recommended, but underutilized active listening strategies. Restating is when you repeat what’s been said to you by paraphrasing in your own words. This helps to steer clear of accidentally assuming you understood what the client has asked of you. Sometimes clients are unintentionally unclear. So by restating what they’ve asked for, you could help them clarify and provide better direction before you head down the wrong artistic path.

Reflection is another active listening strategy. Reflect on what’s been said by pulling out the points that seemed most important to the client, and confirm that you’re putting the importance on the exact thing that they’ve specified. This differs from “restating” because it emphasizes areas of the conversation that seemed to be stressed as highly important, and not just the whole conversation in general.

How Can Voice Actors Be Effective Partners with Producers?

It’s becoming more and more evident that voice actors who are looking to build up their profile of repeat business are expected to go beyond providing their voice. Specifically, putting more attention on how they manage their relationship with clients, as mentioned above in the first video.

Watch the video below to see what the panelists had to say about the importance of voice actors doubling as production partners.

Jim makes an incredibly strong point when he says, “Patience leads to trust, and trust leads to speed.” Speed was mentioned as a central requirement by the panelists throughout the discussion. In this video, Jim’s emphasis on speed is based on building trust by providing consistent performances. Yes, speed means quick communications and 24-hour turnaround times, but for Jim and producers like him, speed also means entrusting a brand voice to a voice actor who can quickly take direction and nail the read, “no fuss, no muss.” This suggests that clients are more inclined to build relationships with voice actors they trust and then give those actors all of the voice over projects they have.

Also, here again, the panelists touch on coaching and receiving direction. This time, they help paint a clearer image of how to “receive direction well” when they say voice actors need to display patience with producers who are providing some coaching.

How do Mistakes Made by Voice Actors Impact Producers?

Mistakes like mislabeling files or mispronouncing industry vocabulary don’t just impact the voice actor. They impact the producer as well. In this video, the client panelists explain how those small oversights can lead to greater issues.  

The producer, if unable to catch the mistake before getting to the end client, is now the “fall guy.” The end client will attribute the mistake to their performance and that can lead to a strain on the relationship for the producer and end client, jeopardizing the voice over work as well. Charlie uses the phrase “floodgates of failure” to describe how the smallest of errors can snowball into clients questioning to continue their business with the production house, and in turn, the voice actor sourced by the production house.

If these types of details — like pronunciation or file naming conventions — aren’t provided, get ahead of it by asking for those types of things at the beginning of the project’s coordination.

What Makes a Voice Actor a Star?

A tough question to answer, that’s for sure. Charlie was able to offer up his insight on this. His idea of a stand-out voice actor is someone who’s able to bring something special with them. Every. Single. Time.

To Charlie, the nuances and varying emphasis that a voice actor can put into a read are what make them stand out. But that’s easier said than done! How does one learn which words to emphasize, and exactly how that emphasis should be handled?

One way to practice emphasis and identifying what sounds good — and different — is to read a sentence of the script repeatedly for as many words as are in the script, and emphasize each word individually per read.

For example, our script line is “I told you that I would bring the dip.

For the exercise, you could read it 9 times because there are 9 words in the sentence. And you could read them like this:

I told you that I would bring the dip

I told you that I would bring the dip

I told you that I would bring the dip

I told you that I would bring the dip

I told you that I would bring the dip

I told you that I would bring the dip

And so on…

Using this technique while recording your audition is a great way to stumble upon the read that will set you apart from other voice actors auditioning for the same job. It also has its benefits when used in preparation for a live-directed session with the producer and end client. It opens up the possibilities of the script and impresses the producer and client with how many different interpretations there are when they begin providing artistic direction.

To Recap: What Voice Actors Can Do to Win Repeat Business

From the five featured videos, we learned that clients expect some pretty specific characteristics in a voice actor who would win their repeat business. The main characteristics are:

Working on those 3 qualities can be the jump-start a voice actor needs to start winning repeat business!

Ready to connect with producers like our panelists? Sign up for your Voices profile today.

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  • Avatar for Emily Burton
    Emily Burton
    May 19, 2020, 1:19 am

    Hi there how do I find jobs in my area? Thank you!

  • Avatar for Robert Pitterman
    Robert Pitterman
    June 1, 2020, 9:41 pm

    Hello there! As a voice actor will we be doing tv commercials? What type of specific job does a voice actors perform?

    • Avatar for Oliver Skinner
      Oliver Skinner
      June 3, 2020, 10:32 am

      Hey Robert,

      That’s a good question! TV commercials, as well as commercials published through other media (radio, the internet), make up a sizeable portion of the voice acting market. However, there are a number of other industries where voice acting plays a prominent role, like the gaming, audiobook, and education sectors. You can check out this list of the various categories of jobs that voice actors regularly perform.


  • Avatar for Eloy Garling
    Eloy Garling
    August 7, 2020, 12:55 am

    Greetings from Los angeles! I’m bored to teads at work so I decided to
    browse youhr website on my iphone during lunch break.
    I enjoy the knowledge you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
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    not even usig WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, amazing site!

  • Avatar for Ashley Flock
    Ashley Flock
    November 14, 2020, 9:04 am

    Is it feasible to think that I could potentially do animated voice over work from home? I’m a single mom with a full time job in healthcare, but i have a unique voice and I’ve always wanted to be the voice of a cartoon! I was thinking this could be a fun opportunity to pursue a dream and make a little extra money!

  • Avatar for James W. Gallucci
    James W. Gallucci
    December 26, 2020, 7:32 pm

    Zero professional experience. I feel I would be great at voice acting, character acting.

    Before I attempt to find work on any level, should I have a solid “bank” of voice/characters ready and perfected? Voices I can pull from at any moment and never forget? I am capable of creating a variety of voices.

    In regards to realistic accents, I can do a few, however, as I continue speaking in these few accents, I tend to default to an Asian accent!

    • Avatar for Oliver Skinner
      Oliver Skinner
      December 28, 2020, 1:14 pm

      Hi James,

      I think you may benefit from reading this chapter of our Beginner’s Guide to Voice Acting on recognizing your talent. As the chapter demonstrates, there are 5 core character types that are the most performed in the voice acting industry. Understanding these, as well as being able to recognize the specific capabilities of your voice and what you can uniquely bring to the table, are the best ways to get started in voice over.

  • Avatar for Charleen
    May 23, 2021, 7:59 pm

    I’m told my laugh makes everyone else laugh and it’s contagious and how alot of people would just watch me for my laugh cause it’s cute I’ve actually had a lady once ask if she could record my laugh cause it was making her laugh so is their any place for me in this line of work coming from a Canadian girl stand point ???

  • Avatar for Christian Crippen
    Christian Crippen
    July 24, 2023, 1:55 am

    I’m coming in with a clean slate, having no past lessons or training on voice acting. Seeing how I can fit best for any role that would suit me.