Table of Contents
- Do I just need one voiceover demo?
- Can I put different styles of voiceover on the same demo?
Do I just need one voiceover demo?
You need one demo for each category of voiceover (VO) that you want to pursue work in.
For example, If you’re hoping to book sessions where you narrate TV commercials but you also have skill doing voices for cartoons, then you need two separate demos – one for commercial work, and one for animation (or character) work.
The first thing you need to do when thinking about a voiceover demo is understand where your strengths are. If you have a quirky voice and can get into character quickly, an animation demo will serve you well. Perhaps you have a deep, booming voice and people regularly say that you should be on the radio, then a commercial demo will be the obvious choice for you.
The main categories of voiceover are:
This includes voiceover used for advertising campaigns that air on TV, radio and the web/online.
Elearning, explainer videos, training videos and even voiceover for a TV series are examples of narration-style voiceover.
An example of promo voiceover would be interstitials for a TV network (“Coming up next on [TV Network name], Homer’s in trouble when Marge discovers he’s starting a new business!”)
Animation, or “character work” includes voiceover for cartoons and video games.
On-hold phone messaging
These are the greetings you hear when you phone a company and are placed on hold. Companies use this opportunity to promote their services, inform customers of business hours or highlight a sale that’s running.
Examples of radio imaging are sweepers, promos and station IDs such as, “You’re listening to K-ROK 99.7 the Rock! Portland’s classic rock station!”
We all know the classic “In a wwwwoorrrrlllllld….” movie trailer VO made famous by the late, great Don Lafontaine.
NOTE: Some of these categories overlap, such as: elearning, explainer videos and on-hold phone messaging. These are all technically narration, but it’s better to have a separate demo for each.
Can I put different styles of voiceover on the same demo?
It’s not advisable to mix genres within one demo because when a casting director is trying to match a voice to a project, they will find it distracting if they hear voiceover done in different styles on the same demo. It’ll also be a waste of their time, and that won’t win you any favors with them.
Imagine a casting director looking for a warm and friendly male voice for a banking commercial – they won’t find it helpful to hear the same voice actor suddenly change style on their demo and start doing a cartoon dog voice, barking and speaking with a lisp.
Should I do a voiceover demo for each category?
You should only have a voiceover demo for every style that you perform competently.
Ask people in the business to listen to things you’ve recorded and give you honest feedback – good and bad. It helps to know what you do well and equally – or arguably more importantly – knowing where your weaknesses are allows you to focus on them and get stronger.
It’s crucial that you understand what makes a good voiceover demo because you only get one chance to impress an agent or casting director.
Look for voiceover groups on Facebook where you can submit recordings you’ve done, or connect with a voiceover coach for a professional voice critique.
What type of voiceover demo do I need?
If you get excited by the idea of doing animation work, but lack the acting skills necessary for that type of work, maybe don’t spend time and money on a character demo until you’ve taken some acting classes.
A casting director will be listening to your demo alongside demos by experienced voiceover talent, produced by professional sound engineers. Make sure you’re prepared to compete at that level, whichever category you choose.
James Dooley is the owner of Dooley Media Works, a voiceover recording and video production company. When he’s not being the “friendly, yet authoritative” voice of brands like KAYAK, Dove Soap and Honey Nut Cheerios, he provides voiceover coaching and professional voiceover demo production for aspiring voice actors looking to succeed in the business.