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Give To Your Voice Over Clients:
10 Tips For A Successful Session
By Dan Friedman
Audio Engineer, Producer & Voice Talent
If your voice over client is new to any aspect of voice overs, you might want to copy some or all of these 10 tips for them. They'll make the session easier for your client - and you!
1. Choose Your Voice Talent Wisely
Who you choose to deliver your message is the first and possibly most critical decision youíll make.
The voice should personify the attitude and style of your company, product or character and should relate to your target demographic.
Keep in mind that the talent should be able to communicate your message quickly and efficiently.
Choose a voice talent who can deliver your copy with few mistakes or pickups. Just because audio editing is easier and faster than ever, doesnít mean extensive editing should be required to get the result you want.
2. Check Your Script
Before your session, read your script out loud and use a stopwatch to time it.
This process will help ensure that youíve fixed any mistakes, grammatical errors and any other stumbling blocks that the voice over talent may encounter.
Using a stopwatch while reading aloud will prepare you for the possibility that you may need to cut or add copy to fit your message within the time limits required for radio and TV commercials.
3. Formatting
 The way your script is formatted plays a big role in the ease in which it can be read.
Double spacing allows room to make copy edits when necessary.
Use of punctuation is a must.
Only use ALL CAPS, bold type, italics or underlines to indicate emphasis.
4. Numbers
 Using actual numbers (1,2,3) rather than writing numbers (one, two, three) is helpful.
However, in the case of a monetary value that is complicated to say - or that can be said multiple ways - writing the number the way you would like it said is best.
5. Communicate
 Communication is what this is all about ... right?
Let your voice talent know right from the beginning what your ideas are for your script and the approach you have in mind.
Most of the time, the copy itself will indicate what approach the voice talent will need to take. Other times, several approaches could be considered viable options.
This brings us to ...
6. Be Flexible
 While you were getting ready for the session to begin, the voice talent was also preparing.
Professional voice over talent will look over the script, read it to themselves, then read it aloud and anticipate what delivery will be best based on the script, the client, and any written direction that may have been provided.
Oftentimes, the talentís approach will be very close to what you were thinking.
However, the talent may also deliver something slightly different or even completely unexpected. These differences could lead to results that are better then what you had imagined.
Be open to what the talent brings to the table. It's one of the reasons you chose him or her.
7. Ask For Help
 The audio engineers, producers and the voice talent are all there to help you get the most out of your production.
Everyone involved wants the production to be a success.
If while in a recording session you are not quite sure about direction, script construction, copy edits, or have questions or concerns about the audio itself, then allow the talents and experience of these professionals to help you achieve your goals.
8. Be Specific
 Vague terminology is confusing and not very helpful since it often requires further explanation anyway.
"Make it blue" is not a clear direction and can be interpreted in several ways.
"Bigger smile" and "descend on that word" are examples of very precise directions that the voice over talent can easily understand.
9. Keep it Positive
 Everyone appreciates positive feedback.
If the talent is communicating your message effectively, let them know it.
10. Make It Fun
 The best and most memorable recording sessions are the fun sessions. They usually involve fun, creative scripts and people who love listening to their productions come to life.
Even if the script is informational and straightforward, there is no reason the session canít be fun while the work gets done.
Sometimes, it can be so much fun ... it seems strange to call it work.
Howís that for getting the most out of a session?

Dan Friedman is a voice talent who began as an audio engineer in 1994, working with live sound and then in radio and recording studios. He has been a producer with ProComm Voices for nearly 10 years, and since 2005, a voice talent with a growing list of of clients including radio and television campaigns. His comprehensive book, Sound Advice - Voiceover From An Audio Engineer's Perspective, provides an excellent foundation for understanding voice over audio and equipment.

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Comments (4)
Dan Friedman
7/8/2011 at 1:37 PM
Thanks to all of you for your kind words and comments ("Hunk"?... well, I especially appreciate that. You are too kind Bettye!).

I'm in the sometimes awkward position of wanting to help both VO talent and clients improve their experience in sessions. I agree with all of your comments, but it can be difficult to tactfully explain to a client how important it is to listen rather than order lunch, especially when they are hungry. ;-)


bettye zoller
7/7/2011 at 3:09 PM
And let me add to producers: Do NOT say, "Oh just do it again. I don't know what to tell you, just do it again." I hate that.

"What was wrong?"

"Oh I don't know. I'll know it when I hear it." (moan)

Great article, Dan. And who's the hunk at the mic, pray tell?
Scott Burns
7/7/2011 at 2:56 PM
I agree with you Dan, especially in making the sessions fun. Nothing sucks the joy out of the experience more than an uptight atmosphere. It can affect the whole project.

I hear what Roy is saying too...getting them to sit still and read the list at a live session would be difficult. Hopefully this info could be delivered prior to the session...include it in a company newsletter or something!

I'd add too that it's important the client actually LISTEN to the talent during their read. It's so frustrating to actually hear chit-chat while the voiceover is taking place. "Really?! You're going to discuss the lunch menu DURING the recording. Nice."

That'd be my 2 cents...

Roy Wells
7/7/2011 at 9:57 AM
Great list Dan! I agreed with every word, but try to get a producer/director who will sit still and read the whole list (or even a little bitty part of it) at a live session. That'd be a piece of luck.
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