Voiceover includes a wonderful mix of opportunities, from ADR and radio to video games and movies. The list is endless! In order to be booked for some of these jobs, you have to audition much the same as other actors would for any of their roles. Auditioning for voiceover work can be more daunting than other jobs on many occasions because the stakes are usually so high. Often it’s for TV, a big commercial, or a video game and you can’t dazzle anyone with your smile. It’s just your voice and how you choose to read the piece that makes all the difference.
But as always, the good news is you can be ready for your audition by knowing what to expect and preparing accordingly. To start, let’s take a look at what you should know and do to prepare before you arrive at the audition.
Review the script.
Read the script over a number of times to get familiar with it and to highlight anything tricky to pronounce or say in a string of words. If you don’t know any words, look them up. If you don’t know how to pronounce them, look it up. There’s nothing worse than saying a city or a product name that you’re not familiar with incorrectly. While they can correct you in the audition, imagine how good it will look when you nail it on the first go!
Consider the clues.
What clues has the client or writer given you about the character, product, or piece? If it’s a character, there are hints embedded in the script that can help you like the way they’re likely to talk, the way they’ve been raised, etc. It’s all in the words. If it’s a commercial or corporate piece, it’s all about the product. How are you going to make that product or service look like it’s the greatest thing that has ever been offered? Make that product sound amazing, but don’t become too presenter-y or sales-y unless they want that sort of read.
Pay attention to read style.
This brings us to the delivery. Often the client will be very specific about what they want to hear at that audition. They know how to best sell their product or service because they live and breathe it every day. By practicing beforehand using their notes, you can be ready with a few versions to offer them in your actual live audition. Just be prepared to let go of these and mix it up if they have any feedback or want a completely different read and vocal delivery.
Speaking of practice, if you take the time to do a few test runs, reading the script out loud as if you were in the studio, you’re prepping your body and voice properly and you’re indirectly making that first read in the booth much easier for yourself. Pre-auditioning gets you ready for the real thing and means when you go into the booth, your body will remember and feel like it’s already done this. Remember the first time you did anything and how you were as nervous as hell? Well, this is your chance to reduce those nerves by practicing first.
Listen to your practice audition.
It’s a good idea to listen back to what you’ve practiced. Does it sound like you want it to? Adjust and re-record if you must. Just don’t do it so many times that the script becomes over-rehearsed.
What not to drink.
Don’t drink any alcohol the night before and avoid coffee or tea until after your audition. Alcohol is a big no-no if you want your voice to be youthful, clear, and not husky. Coffee, on the other hand, acts as a diarrheic, can dry out your vocal cords, and stimulate mucus production. Try and drink only fruit teas if you really want tea and drink plenty of room temperature water. Remember, water doesn’t work 10 minutes before casting. You need to be drinking regularly up to three or four hours ahead of the actual audition so you’re sufficiently hydrated.
Now that you know what to do to prepare, here’s what to do once you’re at the audition.
Once you’ve arrived at the audition, have said your hello’s, and sorted out refreshments, it’s time to get down to business. The technician will likely come in and adjust your mic to sit in the right place for your height and seated position. If your cans (the technical word for voiceover headphones) aren’t loud enough for your preference, don’t be shy about asking them to turn them up. I’m someone who prefers to hear my voiceover voice as I’m working on a script. Others don’t like to hear it at all. Either way, don’t be shy. The same applies to standing if you prefer to stand. Go ahead and do it. Just make sure you can maintain a standing position for up to an hour at a time in case it’s a long audition.
Breathe and relax.
You’ve prepped. You’ve got this! You’re in the booth at a huge audition because your voice is one that they think would be perfect. So now all you have to do is say your lines just like you did at home. Remember to breathe. If you get all choked up, you won’t be useful to anyone.
Often your read won’t be exactly what they are after even if it’s great. This is absolutely OK. Listen to the client or your agent’s feedback—I’ve had lots of auditions in the studios of my agent’s office—and then have another go at giving them what they want. Don’t worry about receiving new feedback on an alternative read. Receiving notes is always a good thing!
Go in, have fun, and then let it go.
Get in there and do your best and then go and grab your well-earned coffee. Like all auditions, the stakes are high and you can finish feeling both exhilarated and spent. The most important thing to do after any audition is to let it go. You’ve done your best and now it’s up to the client and producer to choose whom they think best suits the role.
After all is said and done, for all of us auditioning, there can be only one winner and that’s OK. If you’ve done a great read, there will be more auditions coming your way in a booth near you soon.
*This post was originally published on Jan. 8, 2020. It has since been updated.
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