VOICE OVER AUDITIONS
7+ Things To Consider When Submitting Voice
Over Auditions (And See What Works For You)
By Dave Courvoisier
Voice Actor & TV News Anchor
Clients know exactly what they want from your audition. They just don't know how to communicate that to you in language you both understand.
Are you getting directions from audition leads that are longer than the copy? I rest my case.
Your voice will either fit into the sound that the end-client has in their head, or it will not. It's that simple.
However, they may never even consider your audition if any number of niggling problems get your audition axed before it even hits their ears.
Hence, the following list of basic tips, gleaned from endless coaching sessions, conference attendance and real-world trial 'n' error - offered with no guarantee of success, but more as a "basic necessities" bullet list of pertinent reminders.
1. READ THE SPECS - OR DON'T
I've heard both schools of thought on this one, and there are good arguments on both sides. But it seems to me that if a client throws in a YouTube link for you to hear - and that's truly what they want - it might not hurt to give it a listen.
On the other hand, we all know that a good many clients have no idea what they want, 'cause their directions make no sense, or are contradictory.
Really good talent have a sixth sense about what a copy demands in terms of a read, and that's what they give. THAT read will certainly stand out from all the other performances that resemble the YouTube video.
Or, follow the next suggestion:
2. GIVE ONLY ONE CUT…OR TWO…OR THREE
A good rule of thumb I keep hearing is to give the client what they want (the YouTube video read) on the first cut, and then do your OWN take on the copy with the second cut.
Got even more creativity? Give a third read in a character voice, or with a different pace.
Some directions TELL you how many takes they want. The worst that could happen is that they stop listening after the first cut. But if they keep listening, they may hear just what they want (but didn't say so in the specs) in your second or third read.
Just be sure to state how many takes you're offering in the slate.
The only way this will get you in trouble is expressed in the next suggestion:
3. ALWAYS SLATE (OR NOT)
Some clients/agents absolutely demand a slate, and others absolutely demand that you DON'T slate.
If you can or do slate, this would be the place to say how many cuts you're offering, along with the other verbiage you like to throw in.
Some job leads come with specific instructions for what you should say in the slate. Some give no direction.
I DO believe that slates should not be long. And they can - or should not - be done in character.
Also, slates can or cannot be done by someone else. IF done by someone else, the slate should or should not be done by a person of the opposite gender.
See? This gets confusing. And you'll see the entire spectrum of behaviors in job listings, which leads to the next suggestion:
4. READ EVERYTHING IN THE LISTING - TWICE, NO… THREE TIMES
The decision about how many cuts, whether to slate, and whether extra cuts will even be LISTENED-TO are often clearly spelled out in the listing (be it from a P2P, an agent, or a friend).
Don't be too eager to get on with the audition and miss something important like good tips about timing, pacing, and scene descriptions if it's a TV ad.
Every job has a different personality behind it, and you can often get a "feel" for the job through the reading material accompanying the copy, especially as it relates to the next point:
5. PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO FILE-NAMING CONVENTIONS
Some agents are so rabid about this, that the job lead comes with a clear admonition:
So just give 'em what they ask for!
Amazingly, other clients or agents don't give a HOOT about what you name your file.
Were you one of those problem kids in Jr. High who couldn't follow directions? You'll love those leads that come with no file-naming directions whatsoever - which leads to my next suggestion:
6. PUT YOUR PHONE NUMBER IN YOUR FILE NAME
...and for sure include your name, but only if there are no other directions for file-naming.
So, for instance, an audition for Parker University might be named:
You never know,:something that simple might get you the call for the job right then and there.
Which brings us to the final stop on our checklist:
7. DON'T FORGET TO ATTACH THE FILE!
Believe it or not, this is a universally-common mistake. The agent/booking agent/P2P, etc. is not responsible for, and will not necessarily remind you to do so (although most P2P's will not let you finish the transaction without first uploading).
Just train yourself to attach the file when you first open up a blank email to send - before you write anything, before you address anything, before you add a subject header, ATTACH THE FILE.
And here's a bonus suggestion:
BONUS: YOUR REPLY SHOULD BE SHORT, PLEASANT, WITH THANKS
Whoever is receiving the 200 auditions for this job has no time to read lengthy messages. Two to three short lines MAXIMUM.
You may not even get the chance to do this, since most auditions are uploaded to the cloud with no place to throw-in a comment.
HONORABLE MENTION: CHECK FOR ACCURACY!
Before clicking SEND, always double-check your work.
Listen to your take(s) while reading along with the script. Pay close attention to any omissions, mispronunciations or extra words. This drives some clients crazy!
Also, you want to check that the file is not glitchy or corrupt. Be sure that the playback is error free.
Then play back your audition on an least two different speaker systems. Use different monitors, headphones or computer speakers. This is a trick I've heard from more than one audio engineer. When the prospective client hears your audition, you have no idea what sort of equipment he/she will use.
I heard that more than one agent/producer listens to auditions on his car speakers on the way home.
OK, Sparky? If I offered something you haven't heard before, I'm happy. If you knew all this stuff, I'm sorry you wasted your time. If you're confused, join the crowd.
Regardless of my admonitions above, sometimes you just have to figure out what's appropriate on your own, and hope you hit the mark.
There are no hard-n-fast rules … unless there are.
Dave Courvoisier is a voice actor and audiobook narrator based in Las Vegas - and also an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, producer and morning TV news anchor on Good Morning Las Vegas at ABC affiliate KTNV, Channel 13 (also seen as live stream on KTNV.com). A former president and a founding member of the World-Voices Organization (WoVO), he also writes an informative blog of voice over adventures, observations and technology, and is author and publisher of the book, More Than Just A Voice: The Real Secret To VoiceOver Success, now in its second edition.
More Than Just A Voice - 2nd Edition
Your Daily Resource For Voice-Over Success