|Seven Questions to Consider When
Hiring Voiceover Talent
1. How do I find voiceover
There are many channels through which
you can find voiceover actors. Since you're reading this
Web site, you've already found one avenue: the World Wide
Web. Some actors have their own Web sites, containing online
demos for your convenience. You can also ask local recording
studios to recommend voice talent. Also, check and see if
there are any casting or talent agencies in your area. They
should have a list of actors who would be appropriate for
your project. As with any professional service, it's best
to hire a voice actor based on recommendations from others,
not just from listening to a demo.
2. Should your information
be conveyed by a female or a male voice?
The gender of your narrator is the first
thing you need to consider. Will your audience respond better
to a male or a female voice? Sometimes the answer to this
question isn't as obvious as it seems at first. Does a training
course for the military automatically require a male voice?
Maybe not, given all the women in the military and the fact
that female voices can sometimes make highly technical or
assertive content sound more accessible. Does a commercial
for diapers automatically require a female voice? Maybe,
if you want to speak to all the moms out there. But what
about all the dads who change just as many diapers as the
3. How old should the voice
Your narrator needs to sound as if he
or she really understands what is being said. So it's important
that the narrator be age-appropriate. A young, teenage narrator
might be best if your subject is skateboarding. An authoritative
adult voice might be right for a script about retirement
planning. One tip: Good voice actors are usually quite versatile.
If you find an actor you like but you need a voice of a different
age group, ask the actor if he or she can sound younger or
older. Many times, the answer will be yes.
4. Do you need more than one
Some projects require the consistency
of one voice throughout. Others obviously demand two or more
voices because the script contains different characters.
Sometimes a long project can be narrated by a male and a
female, alternating from chapter-to-chapter or module-to-module,
in order to add some variety for your audience. One important
tip: Keep in mind that good voice actors are usually quite
versatile. One actor may be able to do several convincing
voices, including the voices of children, teenagers, and
seniors, as well as various accents. If your project requires
several voices, you may be able to get everything you need
from just one or two actors if you find the right ones.
5. Will the voice talent you hire be accurate?
It's easy to tell whether or not you like an actor's voice
by listening to his or her demo. What a demo won't tell you,
however, is whether or not the person is accurate while recording.
When you hear an audio clip on a demo, you have no way of
knowing if it took that actor one or a hundred takes to get
it right! In a recording studio, time is money. The more
accurate your actor is, the less money you'll spend on studio
rental and talent fees. Again, it's good to get references
from producers or colleagues who've worked with the actor
you're considering using, to make sure you're getting someone
who is not just talented but also professional and cost-effective.
Will the voice talent you hire be pleasant to work with?
Some people take for granted that actors can be temperamental pains in the neck,
fitting the old stereotype of the "prima donna." But, the truth is,
you don't have to put up with anyone who has a difficult personality, is too
demanding or who doesn't take direction well. A good, professional voice actor
is a business person, just like you. In a recording studio, where the meter is
running, there is no time to waste. Before you hire an actor, make sure he or
she doesn't come with a reputation for being difficult. There are so many professional
actors who are wonderful to work with, why waste your time with anything less?
7. Can you afford
to use professional voiceover talent?
The answer to this question is simple. You can't afford NOT to! Some companies
try to save money by using inexperienced talent (or even in-house staff) to do
voiceovers for their projects. This is usually a mistake that causes problems
down the road. Your audience is very sophisticated. They're used to listening
to the radio, watching television and movies and hearing streaming audio online.
Their ears will rebel if they hear an unprofessional voice or a badly-read piece
of copy. The cost of experienced voiceover talent and a good recording studio
is well worth it when you hear your material presented with the respect and professional
treatment it deserves.