You’ve made a video that looks great, you have the script for the narration so you grab a microphone that your friend recommended for podcasting and hook it up to your computer and record the narration yourself.
You play it back and the results are disappointing, the sound quality isn’t good and it all sounds boring and flat.
Bad voice recordings can bring down the whole quality of the video you’ve worked to hard to put together. More than you might think.
If you’ve never worked with a professional voiceover artist before, the whole process might seem more full of questions rather than answers; you might be worried that pro VO is only for massive brands, that it’s tricky to find a voiceover, that we might be somehow difficult to work with and that it would be a whole load of hassle and expense that frankly, you just don’t need right now.
I personally work for big international brands as well as many small local businesses. One of my favourite things is working with small organizations and delighting them with how good we can get things to sound for them, very easily and for a fair price.
So, you’ve decided life is going to be a whole lot easier when the voiceover artist takes the pain away. Where do you start? Let’s unpack it for you
First, make a decision on what kind of voice you want that will be right to speak directly to your audience; male, female, accent etc. Have a Google - search some agencies. If you’re stuck, do drop me a line – voiceover artists know a lot of voiceover artists! We are generally very happy to help you find a VO with the sound you are looking for and we are well plugged in to a large network.
Make sure they have a professional studio – ask them about it
Tell them about your project with as much info as possible, who it’s for, where it will be heard, what you need it to do for you. They will then tell you how long they will need to achieve this and the length of the booking. Most VO jobs fall under the general categories of Corporate, Commercial, elearning, Explainer, IVR etc.
Clear, easy to read, good punctuation and spelling. Spacing between sections is good. Don’[t write it all in capitals, unless you want it shouted!
If you want to include details of the visuals that are happening in the column on the right then that’s good, it can help but please don’t feel that you have too. VO’s have weirdly vivid visual imaginations than they conjure up to voice against!
Do check it flows and makes sense “out loud” rather than just a written article. Please do bear in mind that I do like to breathe sometimes too!
A little plea - check that you haven’t put too many words into a script for how long you want it to last. Most of us can cram a lot of words into a short space but that doesn’t always mean you get more messages across for your £. You are aiming at people’s ears and you want them to listen and understand and take action.
If you have tricky pronunciations, it’s really lovely if those are spelt phonetically in brackets next to the word!
Have a think about the style of the sound you think you’d like. Is it soft, confident, “thrown away”, very corporate or conversational? Also use the VOs website as a reference, if there is a clip on their site or demo that you think works well then let them know and they can adapt this style to suit your piece.
Sessions will either be directed by you or one of your team or by me – I self direct every day so it’s fine if you’d rather I did.
Self directing – I take your script, the knowledge of what you are looking to achieve with your content, the style, the end result, the target market and any special points that you’ve asked me to keep in mind – pace, tone etc and I’ll read it through a few times to get the feel of it and work through anything that might be tricky until I’m happy I have what you need
No, you don’t have to. As I’ve said, we are very used to doing so ourselves. That said, voiceovers do enjoy being directed as well – this can be quite a lonely job and it’s always nice to speak to someone and get their input. You don’t need to be a Hollywood A list director to direct a VO session. We can do it over the phone, Skype or Zoom etc or some of the more professional connection methods such as Source connect if you have them,
Tell the VO what sort of feel, to reach who, the kind of pace, style you had in mind. We will then give you a taster of what you’ve asked for – the first paragraph or so, then ask for your thoughts.
Sometimes people ask to do it paragraph by paragraph – sometimes it’s more about getting the flow of the whole piece so it can be a few full reads. Don’t be afraid to ask to try something different. You may have ideas of things you’d like us to try – we will also have ways of changing it up for you too. Sometimes I like to take a read in a totally different direction – to give you an option you hadn’t considered!
You will get a file of audio – do specify if you need something special, most people want a wav (I recommend this) or an mp3. If you live directed, I usually send you the range of takes so you can select what you like and need. If it’s self directing I will usually edit your file for you and send any alternatives with that (maybe a sentence structure suggestion alternative)
How much will the voiceover cost me, how do I pay?
This is an “it depends” question. Voiceovers generally have their BSF “Basic Studio Fee” that will give you an hour of their time in their studio. Live direction will be on top of this. Based on the BSF, we then calculate the “usage” which is based on how this content will be used – if you’re using paid for social media, if it’s being broadcast, if it’s just on your website etc. We can quote easily and quickly with this information in most circumstances. Sometimes I will refer a job via my agent if it’s tricky to price for some reason or if it requires a bit more attention.
Please bear in mind that this is our job, we train professionally for this and it takes a decade or so to be able to deliver that script of yours perfectly, in our own broadcast quality (expensive) studios. That said, we are very good value in comparison with the rest of the production process when you consider what we bring to the quality of the end result. You can pay in a range of ways, ask your VO.
If you’re happy with the files you receive then please tell us so – you know that makes our day, right?
If you need any changes at all then don’t be afraid to ask – we love happy clients. We may be able to include a change depending on what was agreed and what was included for the fee.
Voiceover artists are working on content like yours every day. As a result we have a very good knowledge of what works, we can make suggestions for styles, we know techniques of how to make something impactful. We know what to emphasize and what to leave the heck alone. In general, we love what we do and making our clients happy - so please do ask for our thoughts too.
Please do drop me a line for a chat about your project firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website for samples www.clarereevesvoiceovers.com
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Connect on Linkedin /clarereevesvoiceovers
Clare has been a professional voiceover artist for a decade and can be heard on TV, Radio an online voicing for a range of organizations around the world. Her British Voice is warm in sound with a dynamic, cool delivery style.