It may be hard to identify which voiceover demos you want when starting. If you’ve done your homework, as we’ve discussed in the previous blog posts, you’ll have spent months in acting classes and VO training sessions chiseling away the marble to reveal a beautiful you.
- Your demo should show the world what you’ve got right off the bat.
- It’s your calling card and is the most important asset in your toolbox.
- Your signature sound should be clear as a bell and ring true.
Tips and Guidelines for Voiceover Demos
Here are some guidelines if you’re starting and some tips I’ve found helpful if you’ve been at this awhile:
1) Have a demo for each genre you like to work in (even if it represents a small part of your business, like Live Announcing). 60-90 seconds max (unless it’s Audiobooks, then it can be three to five minutes).
2) Have a compilation demo showing your wide range of work, because there’ll be times when you want to send one demo and not multiples, or you may be sharing it with an audience that might have a variety of interests.
3) Wow ‘em in the first three seconds — your career depends on it.
4) Keep on wowing them with each subsequent clip. Show more range in the middle; end with your signature sound to bring them home.
5) Have snippets of specific projects at the ready to send samples in that style.
6) Create voiceover demos that are labeled according to vocal styles — sometimes people search for a voice-based on the kind of sound they’re after (like Dramatic, Motherly & Caring, Friendly & Informative), not necessarily the genre of VO (like Commercial, Corporate Narration, IVR, etc.).
7) Make sure that the work on your demo is reflective of your talent and not the engineer’s skills. After all, if you get hired, you’re the one who has to ‘bring it’ to the session!
When it comes to finding someone to help you produce the demo, Steven Lowell wrote a blog post back in 2011 for The VoiceoverGuide that’s still relevant today:
Please know that no one ever walked into a studio and created a golden demo in one try. Most willing to produce a demo, offer some sort of class schedule leading up to the final production of a demo. You may see voice over coaches offering this as a service, for example. Yet, always remember these important tips below:
- Avoid those more concerned with you paying than explaining what they will offer you.
- Review websites and copies of work they have produced in the past.
- Make sure they can produce a demo for the type of work you want to achieve.
- Check if they have a curriculum, class schedule, or course plan.
- Ask for an explanation detailing exactly how things will proceed.
- Find out who they have made demos for in the past and if these demos turned into work.
- Ask for a consultation at no, or low cost, to find out where you stand.
- Get a second opinion on that consultation from someone who gets voice work.
Nowadays, with players like Voicezam and SoundCloud, you can separate each clip from your demo and add meta-tags, and text to describe the demo, which will help you with web exposure. David Goldberg wrote an article for VoiceOverExtra back in 2012, and while some of the directives are antiquated — “Your demo should be on CD. Not cassette, not reel-to-reel, nor any other unpopular format. This includes vinyl records and 8-tracks….” — there’s still a lot of wisdom in his Demo Q&A post.
At the end of the day, many of the decisions on what to have on your demo and in which order are very subjective. And different people listen with different ears — an agent will listen for one thing, but a casting director may listen for something entirely different. The demo producer may have his/her own style, which isn’t to someone else’s liking.
Above all, you should feel proud of your work, so you can go forth with your microphone and head held high as you let the world know what you have to offer today, now, #VOnow.