sign up for our

Home Shop Subscribe Advertise Articles Directories Classifieds Calendar FAQs Contact Us Login

Overwhelmed About Creating Your First
VO Demo? Remember Three Words ...

By Susan Berkley
Voice Talent & Coach

Planning your first 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? 
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 to 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.
Susan Berkley is a top voice over artist and founder of The Great Voice Company, a voice over training company based near New York City. She is the telephone voice of AT&T and Citi, author of Speak To Influence: How To Unlock The Hidden Power of Your Voice, and a persuasive speaking expert. A frequent media guest, she has been featured on ABC news, CNBC and in the New York Times.Through her Bootcamps, coaching programs and courses, she shares how to experience and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the voice over lifestyle and create a home-based business. For a free CD, 6 Insider Secrets For Getting Started in Voice Over, plus weekly tips and techniques, visit her website below.
Your Daily Resource For Voice-Over Success
Tell Us What YOU Think!
Please Note: Since we check for spam, there will be a slight delay in the actual posting of your comment.
Your Name:
Your Email Address (will not be published):
Your Comment:
Your Comment:
Security code:     
Comments (2)
Gary Terzza
9/15/2014 at 4:42 AM
Three words that surprised me! Thanks Susan for helping rookie voice actors see things slightly differently - sage advice.
Jim Conlan
9/11/2014 at 10:08 AM
For the most part I agree, Susan, with two exceptions. First, some people just weren't made to be funny. But they're still awfully good at being serious. Maybe humor isn't the only way to entertain a listener. Second, please address the needs of the more than 90 percent of voice talent who never get to do commercials. Since local radio and TV stations have excluded professional voice talent from local advertising, the bulk of voice-over work today is in non-commercial projects. Come out of the city and you'll find the reality of voice-over work today.
Back to Articles
For essential voice-over business strategies
On Michael Langsner's Voice-Over Roadmap Podcast
With Sean Daeley and Paul Stefano - check it out!
Inspiring interviews help your VO career