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Your First Voice Over Demo: What Should
It Mean To Your Listeners - And To You?

By Jim Conlan
Voice Actor / Narrator / Coach

There are lots of good options for helping you to put together your first voice over demo. And there are lots more that are not so good.

It helps to determine exactly what the purpose of an initial demo is, so you don't waste time and money.


Let's define terms. When I talk about a first demo I mean a general demo - one that shows off the range of your best work.

If you can handle multiple voice over categories they should be represented in this demo. In that case, a general demo has value in some applications, but not in all.

Certainly you want to send it to talent agencies to request representation. You'll want to put it on your website. You'll want to post it on various online casting services. And possibly send it to certain production companies, especially if they produce a broad variety of projects.


But in many cases you won't want to submit a general demo. The person who listens to your work may not be interested in your entire range of talent.

For instance, if your demo includes commercial or narrative work, a manufacturing corporation may be distracted by it. An ad agency may be put off by samples of your industrial work. And so on.

In those cases you'll want to create category demos - those that appeal to a specific type of client looking for your skills in their specific field.

If you have any kind of comprehensive marketing plan, you'll be offering a variety of shorter, focused demos.


Every audio clip featured on your demo should reflect who you are. The kind of material you choose should be a perfect match to your voice and personality.

That means your demo will have a definite brand identity, so someone listening can say, "Yeah I get it." 

Ask yourself: "Would someone hire me to do this?"

For example, if you've got a fun, kindof quirky voice, you probably wouldn't be hired to do a fragrance commercial!


Most people just starting off in the professional voice over industry will probably need guidance in learning what sort of talent they have, and how to apply that talent to the market.

They will also need guidance in choosing the right material and learning how to put the best of themselves into it.

That's where a professional coach can help. Personal, face-to-face attention is best, but if no one near you really qualifies for your needs, there are good choices online.

Whatever you do, focus on getting the best, most personal demo.
Jim Conlan is a narrator with four decades of voice over work in commercials, industrials, informational videos and audiobooks. He is a popular coach of voice over talent located in the American southwest. Under the name of James Conlan, he is approaching his 100th title on Audible.

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