Planning your voice over demo but feeling overwhelmed?
What copy should you use? How do you produce a demo that will get you noticed? What do agents, producers and casting directors really want? Here’s how to start…

To help you get the job done right simply remember my three favorite words: Levity, Clarity and Honesty.

Choose humorous copy whenever possible. You want to make people feel good when they listen. If you can get them to crack a smile or even laugh out loud, you’re well on your way. If you’re not naturally funny, try your hand at dry, wry humor. This deadpan, even sarcastic, style is extremely popular in advertising today. Big voiced announcer types should choose at least one piece of copy where you show you can make fun of yourself and aren’t taking yourself so seriously.

Be clear and real. . It used to be that radio and television announcers needed perfect diction and speak a flawless standard American dialect. This is no longer the case. We are hearing more and more spots with actors speaking the way people actually talk…sort of. In real life people mumble, stutter and often have heavy accents. This won’t work in voice-over. After all, we have to understand what you are saying in order to buy the product. The standards are a little looser, a little more casual, but you still must speak clearly. And you have to speak cleanly too, free from excessive mouth noise, slurps, heavy breathing and other distractions.

No slick announcers needed. Producers, casting directors and agents all have finely tuned “B.S.” detectors. And the audience does too. When you voice a spot, you’ve got to sound totally convincing like you really mean what you are saying. If you sound too announcer-y, they will probably pass you by in favor of a more believable sound.

Your Inside Voice Over Assignment

Keep a copy file of humorous spots.
Production houses often post samples of their work on line. When you hear a funny commercial on television, look it up on YouTube and transcribe it. If the copy fits your voice type, consider using it on your next demo.

Audit your speech.
Record yourself reading several pieces of copy. Listen and take note of the clarity and cleanliness of your speech. Excessive mouth noise, pops and clicks can be caused by several factors: nervousness, certain foods and certain medication. Yoga breathing can help reduce stress. Find a class nearby or a resource on line. To reduce mouth noise, void dairy, fried or oily foods in the meal before you record. Eating apple slices or sipping apple juice can also help cut down on mouth noise. If you’re taking medication that causes dry mouth, ask your pharmacist for an alternative or try spritzing your mouth with a synthetic saliva called “ Salivart”available at the pharmacy.

Remove your headphones when you record.
An announcer sound can often be cured by visualizing the person you are speaking to rather than listening to the sound of your voice. Develop a clear picture of the person you are speaking to your “mind’s eye”. It’s easiest if you imagine you are speaking to someone you know.

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Susan Berkley is a top voice overs artist
and founder of The Great Voice Company, a company devoted to teaching great voices around the world how to become successful voice over actors.