Finding Your Voice with Voices.com: 16 Tips to Nailing That Voice Acting Audition!
It’s great that technology has revolutionized how the voice acting world works. Voice actors primarily work from home, and submit auditions online through platforms like Voices.
Some voice actors have perfected the art of their auditions by creating a well-oiled workflow that helps them get 15 or more auditions submitted every day. That kind of volume lends itself to higher booking averages too. That is if the auditions are hitting the mark!
Here are the tips you need to make the most of your auditions and improve your number of booked jobs, straight from Voices Talent Manager Evan Wiebe.
If you do nothing else, watch the below video.
Want more? Read on!
How to Prepare for a Voice Over Audition
Here are a couple of tips and tricks for a great audition, before you get started:
1. Develop Your Long-Term Strategy
If you don’t have a strategy, even a subconscious one, the audition process will be more difficult. Start developing your strategy early, articulating it to yourself, or writing it down to set the bar for your VO work. Building a profitable career in anything, let alone voice over, takes consistency and dedication.
- Set a goal for the number of auditions you will submit over the course of 4 weeks or 12 weeks even, keeping in mind that the recommended absolute minimum to be successful is 15-20 auditions per week. Many top talent will submit much more than that.
- Set a goal for the number of demos you want on Voices, keeping in mind that top talent upload new demos each year to continue to grow and revamp their portfolio and image. If you don’t have a dozen demos or so yet, that’s a good number to aim for.
- Set a vision for the marketable niche you’ve carved out for yourself. Think of this as your elevator pitch—can you describe what is unique about what you offer to clients in 30 seconds? That’s your vision. This should be ever-evolving as well. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum or on paper—it evolves through each client transaction and each new VO opportunity. If you don’t have that elevator pitch yet, or you only half-resonate with your current one, that’s okay, it means you keep asking the question: “What problem am I solving for my clients?”
2. Don’t Read the Whole Script!
Primarily this is a tactic to save you time, but the secondary benefit of keeping your audition portion short is to protect your audio. Clients usually only listen to 5-10 seconds of your audition anyways, so we advise that you record 15-20 seconds of the script, unless there is a very good reason to include more, like long-form audiobook narration for instance.
3. Don’t Underestimate Practice
If everybody could be a voice actor, they would. But beyond dedication and consistency, there’s the careful practice that helps you deliver compelling performances. Clients come to Voices to hire voice actors, not script readers. Practice the script as much as you need to reach a world-class performance. The more you audition and record daily, the less dedicated practice you’ll potentially need, but remarkable performances don’t always happen from a cold read.
4. Don’t Slate Your Audition
Slating means saying your name or offering some other preamble at the beginning of your audition. Slating is not recommended or necessary, as your name is already beside the play button for clients to see. The one scenario where slating is useful is when you give more than one take, and in those cases say “two takes” at the beginning. However, multiple-take auditions are completely optional and don’t necessarily make your audition more competitive.
Note: If you offer two takes please ensure they sound different enough from each other to merit the second take.
5. Bring Your Authentic Self
As voice over coach Tommy Griffiths says in this episode of Mission Audition, “You don’t want to sound believable, you want to be believable.”
Clients don’t want 80 auditions that all sound the same. They want variety! One way that you can stand out is to relax into your authentic self so that the audition is coming from a believable place.
6. Spend Less Time Auditioning
The ideal amount of time spent per audition is about 5 minutes on average. Some faster users will reduce that further, to around 2 minutes per audition. The shorter your “time per audition,” the more efficient you’ll be. Check out this piece on how to best manage your audition workflow.
7. Do Your Audio Quality Control
Here’s a short checklist of considerations for your audio quality control efforts:
- No room noise, echo, “boxy” sound, or “faraway” sound
- No background noise, hum, or hiss in the audio
- Levels after normalizing are between -3db and -1db
Here’s a helpful video on how to set your levels.
- Recording levels are between -12db and -9db
- No plosive pops or clicks
- No clipping
- No unnatural spacing after editing, preserve the spacing of your natural speech
- Professional condenser microphones are best, avoid cheap condensers and avoid dynamic microphones.
Optimizing Your Audition Workflow in Your Home Studio
Guest contributor Mike Tobin shares his thoughts and encourages you to get the job done.
No matter how you slice it, auditions make up a key part of any voice talent’s day. With lots of time required for active jobs, marketing activities, skills development, and probably plenty of administrative tasks as well, the need to be efficient with your auditioning process is critical! Here are six tips that can help get you from “record” to “send” more quickly, without rushing or cutting any corners.
Home Audition Tip #1: Get Physically Setup Properly
Your home studio setup has to be conducive to productivity and creativity, good performance, and good audio quality. This will look different for everyone, but the important questions to ask are:
- Does my physical setup allow for a quick startup?
- Does my physical setup allow for a comfortable 2-3hr work session?
- Does my gear/software allow for quick startup?
- Does my gear/software allow for a comfortable 2-3hr work session?
- Do I perform best sitting or standing?
- Is there anything in my setup that keeps me from doing my best work?
- Is there any issue in my audio that I can solve by changing the way I record rather than using a software plugin?
Home Audition Tip #2: Chunk Your Tasks
Many productivity experts advise that similar or repetitive tasks should be grouped together for better efficiency. Anthony Robbins uses the term “chunking “.
The idea is that by doing this, you take advantage of flow and continuity. So, instead of recording a single audition, and then editing and submitting, try recording a group of 5 to 10 auditions in one session. Then do all your editing, followed by all your submitting.
Obviously, this technique works best for jobs that require similar recording levels to start, but with a bit of practice you can even incorporate level changes into your session and benefit from not having to stop and restart after each audition.
Home Audition Tip #3: Make Editing a Snap – With the Way You Record!
Whether you’re new to voiceover or have been at it for years, you’ve no doubt heard about, or probably use a variation of the “snap” or “click” technique.
In a nutshell, you make snap or click sounds during recording to visually mark your audio waveform to help distinguish between good takes and throw-always: After a take, snap your fingers close to the mic, or make a sharp clicking sound with your mouth.
The resulting audio spike will show up clearly in your waveform. I like to make 2 snaps after a mistake or bad take, and 1 snap after a good one. Once I’m done my recording session, I simply find the sections with 2 clicks at the ends, and hit delete!
Home Audition Tip #4: Markers and Job Numbers
If you commit to recording a “chunk” of auditions, be sure to use your recording software’s markers to divide them up: Place a marker at the beginning of each audition section.
If your recording software or DAW has an “export from markers” function, use it to quickly split your recording session into the individual audio files for each audition. Also, say the job number or name prior to reading its script. It will help you quickly match the audio you have with the job posting. Once you’re done recording, it’s time to edit and polish the audio.
Be sure to edit out the recorded job number or name before saving. Remember: Clients and producers often listen to hundreds of auditions for every job, and as a result you may only have seconds to catch their attention! So, it’s really important that you get right to their script and impress them early on.
Home Audition Tip #5: Presets and Key-Commands
Sometimes it’s the little things that add up to big time-savings! So if you have processes or effects-chains that you apply to your audio regularly, try saving them as presets and even consider mapping out hotkeys to speed things up.
Most good recording software and DAWs will have many hotkeys pre-programmed but also offer the possibility of creating your own. I’ve mapped out “command-P” as my processing hotkey. Check the user guides and online tutorials for your particular software to learn how.
But REMEMBER: Presets are ONLY starting points. You should always listen carefully, then check and adjust your levels to ensure you get things right!
Home Audition Tip #6: Clipboard Tools and Message Templates
Copy and paste in any application saves time. But consider supercharging your clipboard with a tool like ClipMenu (for Mac) or Ditto (for Windows). These allow for a longer history in your clipboard and so much more! With ClipMenu, you can save “snippets” that you use frequently. I created snippets like “Mike_Tobin_-_custom_audition_-_” that I can paste in quickly when saving audition files. All I have to do is paste the snippet I need, and then add the job number!
Once you’re done recording, editing, processing, and saving your audio, you’re just about ready to send of that “chunk” of auditions! Voices offers message templates to help speed up your communications that accompany the audio files you upload. Take the time up front to prepare several of these templates that best suit the type of auditions you’ll be submitting.
Type a basic message that can include things like your typical turnaround time, live-direction options (for example ISDN, Source-Connect, or Skype), and anything else you usually include. In my case, I have at least four templates I use on a regular basis: “Custom audition”, “Private Audition”, “Custom Audition for Voices team”, and “Private Auditions for Voices team.”
As was the case with presets, it’s important to remember that message templates are a starting-point. Be sure to customize each one to include the client or account manager’s name, and try to add a personal touch when appropriate.
Improving Your Audition Workflow on Voices.com
Did you know that voice actors who audition 7 or more times per day make up to $20,000 more per year than those who audition less than that? And, as mentioned above, many are completing 15 or more!
If completing that many auditions each day seems daunting, we’ve got you covered with these audition tips that will make managing your audition workflow a snap
Note: If you have a Voices guest profile, some of these audition workflow tips may not apply to you, as some features are only available to paying members. If you’re interested in upgrading your Voices profile, it’s simple and easy!
Online Audition Tip #1: Batching Your Work
There are different ways to batch your VO tasks, but if you aren’t doing any batching (or grouping similar tasks) find ways you can group tasks so that you can change gears at an appropriate pace and breathe life into your audition process.
Between prepping, recording, audio bouncing, and submitting tasks, there may be inefficiencies that you can eliminate. One classic batching method is to record multiple auditions into the same session, and then once that is recorded, editing that larger file down to the specific job scripts and bouncing them one after the other and submitting. Take a deep dive into Toby Rickett’s process here:
Online Audition Tip #2 Using Filters on Voices
As mentioned in the video at the top of this post, automatically filter the jobs in your Hiring Folder so that you only see the jobs that match your preferences. For example, you may only want to see and audition for jobs that are paying $300 and up–you can adjust the filters so that you only see jobs that fall within certain criteria that you’ve selected. It makes your life easier and allows you to spend your energy and time on jobs you actually want to be hired for.
Online Audition Tip #3: Use Proposal Templates
Every audition needs a proposal template, and to save you time, Voices makes it easy to create your own messaging templates, which can be customized and used over and over again. Read up on how to write a polished and professional proposal that tells clients who you are and what you’re capable of.
For example, if you want to have a proposal template that’s specifically for business jobs, you can create one that will also include past clients you’ve worked with in the industry.
Writing a proposal is an important part of the auditioning process. Essentially, your proposal is like a cover letter for your job. Like any professional communication, it should greet the client by name if possible. It should also include a basic introduction about yourself, the services you offer, and your experience.
In Summary: These are the Essential Steps to Follow to Start Landing Jobs
Don’t give the client any reason to pass over you. Clients are looking for broadcast-ready audio quality, competitive loudness levels (so that you’re not quieter than everyone else), and following the directions in the job brief.
If you have a wonderful performance but you are missing one of the basic requirements for the job, such as an audio issue or the wrong voice age or accent, then you’ve already given the client a reason not to shortlist you. The job of a voice talent is not just offering a great performance, it’s also avoiding all of the potential audition dealbreakers.
Common Questions about Auditions
What is a Custom Audition?
In an audition situation, talent who submit custom demos are usually rewarded with extra attention and regard from the client receiving the auditions.
While this may seem obvious, the psychology behind the submission and reception of custom demos is highly overlooked.
On the voice talent side of the equation, the goal is to present the client with something that best reflects the project requirements while demonstrating his or her vocal abilities in a practical manner.
Recording the custom demo also gives a talent the option to include that significant tidbit of information in their written proposal, catching the eye of the client and raising interest levels in their submission.
That being said, when clients receive custom demos, they usually give them more weight than a stock demo submission, especially if they are presenting the demos to their own clientele.
From the clients point of view, a talent who submits a custom demo is more keen to work for their company. Considering their interest level and the time they invested to record a custom demo, the client may also perceive the talent as more qualified to work for them.
Though custom demos are regarded as more relevant, did you know that sometimes clients truly NEED custom demos?
Trying to conceptualize what a final product will sound or look like without a custom sample to reference from is extremely difficult. I can relate to that.
For example, recently I helped pick out paint colors for our home. Being better with words than visuals, my ability to select a complementary color palette without seeing the paint on the wall was next to impossible. Abstract thinking is not my specialty.
This method could also be called the “I’ll know it when I see it / hear it” method. Many of us are like that. You need to see the real thing, not merely a projection or thumbnail instead of the real thing.
The same goes for those among us who cannot ‘picture’ what their voice-over will sound like from a generic demo. While people have an understanding of the kind of music they like to listen to, they may not be as sensitive to the nuances of a spoken word demo that is not familiar to them or does not relate to their identity as an organization.
Custom demos take time, but if recorded with the right motivations and precautions, they more than serve their purpose. You are giving the client something greater than just a sample of your voice reading copy… you are giving them a taste of precisely what their voice-over will be like, and with that very important ingredient comes peace of mind.
How Do I Nail an Audition with Little or No Direction?
So there’s a heavy load of cash on the line, you have a 95% Voice-match with an audition on Voices, and you need this gig.
But, you have no idea what the client wants you to sound like because there’s no direction provided other than: Sounds like: “Announcer.” And all you have to go by is this body of copy:
They’re just words on a page. How can anyone possibly decipher the delivery that the client is listening for?
Is this serious, or should you go with a lighter, more casual tenor? How would you even start the read?
When instructions or direction of a voice-over are sketchy or even non-existent, there is hope.
You merely need to play detective and dig through the copy for context clues that may give you a feel for the tone of the piece. Coupled with a few basic voice-over techniques, your audition will more than likely stand out among the artists who didn’t do their homework.
Truly study the copy and consider each word. Every word is important and deserves its due (that’s a whole ‘nother blog). A couple of words in the above copy stand out immediately and reveal a hint of what the writer really wants in the performance.
Words like “clueless” and “folks.” Pretty casual use of the English language, right? So you know you can lighten up a little when you’re delivering your lines.
From just those two words we’ve gleaned a fairly accurate feel for the attitude of the piece.
How do you start the delivery?
Easy! My mentor Chuck Blore preaches this rule to all of his talent. The first sentence of the voice-over is your purpose statement. Say it like you’re telling someone why you’re speaking in the first place. “Everywhere you look, there’s new technology.”
It’s like you’re standing in front of a class announcing the title of your book report. So there, with virtually no information given, you have a decent idea of how to approach this mystery voice-over.
Oh, here’s another tip: When you’re reading a list in the copy like, “Your boss, your employees, maybe even your clients” you’ll sound a whole lot more interesting if your inflection on each item is different.
Of course, the inflection should make sense – don’t just inflect to inflect – but vary your phrasing with each item. It seems obvious, but I swear I’ve coached dozens of students who didn’t get it.
Most clients are fairly specific about what kind of delivery they want from you in a voice-over. But for the occasional audition that leaves you scratching your headphones, taking a few extra minutes to sleuth out an educated approach can mean a few extra dollars in your pocket.
Should I Edit out the Breaths in an Audition?
This morning I received a question from a voice over talent who said, “I’ve run into vo artists locally who tell me that all auditions should be “debreathed,” not just lowering the volume of breath noises, but cutting them out completely. What do you recommend?”
What an interesting question to be asked! Is audible inhalation in an audition read a no-no?
My thoughts are as follows:
Editing breaths out of auditions might be a reasonable thing to do, especially if a talent is having some respiratory issues or has a cold. You could remove the breaths to make the audio sound cleaner but the end result could be that the voice over loses an aspect of its humanity and may sound unnatural.
If the breath “sounds” right or feels like it should be there given the context of the copy and character, you could leave it in. This would be a matter of preference and discernment.
While there might be some extra work involved, removing a breath that doesn’t align well with the read or character might be what makes the difference between a polished presentation and one that did not fall in line with their character or the context of the script and read.
Should I Submit a Dry Voice Audition or Do Full Production?
Recording your voice for an audition is one thing, but adding tracks with music and sound effects as a way of learning the art of production, is another.
It’s important to know that it is not recommended that your audition contain any production elements (e.g. music or sound effects), as the audition needs to highlight your vocal ability only.
Auditions: Dry Voice is Best (it’s 100% You!)
The term “dry voice” is the industry’s way of saying an unadulterated sound. When you are required to record a dry voice track, all you should be doing is providing your read, nothing more. That means no music, no sound effects, no effects on your voice… you get the picture. When you audition, you should be supplying a dry read.
Full-Production: Great for Experimentation and Demos
Adding music and effects to your voice over track is a completely different animal. Whenever something is produced, it means that production elements were used, such as music, sound effects and so on. Usually in this instance, you are multi-track recording and might have a separate track set aside for your voice with an array of tracks for music beds, sound effects and the like.
If you’re having fun with production and you’ve created an amazing track that highlights your vocal skills, you might consider using this as one of your demos.
As a rule of thumb, whether you decide to do dry voice exclusively (for auditions and demos) or dabble in production, always make sure that your vocal choices with regard to interpretation are unique and demonstrate how you would best serve the client.