How To Get Your VO Reel Heard

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How do I create art, encapsulate it into a neat consumable package, and get it out into the world? Perhaps you’re just starting out in the voiceover industry or maybe you’ve been in it for a while and are looking to revamp your brand. Either way, the question of how to do that remains the same. It’s a tricky intersection of creativity and business. 

In its simplest form, the answer is you create a demo reel and you send it to the folks you hope will hire you. But of course, as with all things, the best answer is far more complex. I’m going to take you through a very individualized journey to getting heard in a clear easy to understand series of steps, beginning with the demo itself. 

First, create a demo that is authentically you. We live in a world that is driven by carefully calculated constructed images designed for social media. It’s important to fight that urge when creating a reel. The bottom line is there is no perfect formula for this process, it needs to be organic and driven from inside. What makes a demo stand out is the ability to translate who you are, where you’re at, and what drives you into the recording. It may sound over the top to put that level of storytelling into ad copy, but it’s what separates the artists from the average.  

Choose pieces that showcase all the unique facets of your personality, allow them to radiate from a grounded place deep inside, and let your energy infuse them with a reality that comes from a vulnerable connected place. It’s not that different from creating a character for stage or film, in fact in some ways, the reliance on just the voice makes it even more important. Work with a great engineer and a good team of coaches that pay attention to nuance and help tease out all the levels you innately have inside. A good connection with your engineer ensures the finished product will represent the truest version of your talents.

If you’ve done step one correctly and laid it all on the table, it’s likely that you’ll feel vulnerable and filled with fear. Face your fears! Fear of rejection. Fear that you’ve exposed your authentic self and nobody will want to listen. Fear that your best and truest work is simply not good enough. It’s so important that you don’t let these feelings paralyze you into inaction. Remember, bravery is not the absence of fear, it’s being afraid and doing it anyway. In this business, the reality is if you’re not heard, you’re not hired, so face those fears and put that demo to work.

So, where do you send your new little nugget of art to get exposure and land some work? Everywhere! Market and throw a wide net. Start with your inner circle first because your friends and family love you and a connection to them is a connection to everyone they know. Networking is the name of the game in this industry and jobs come from all different places. Don’t just play it for them, send them the file so that they have it on hand if they meet someone who is interested in your talents.

Send marketing blasts to talent agents, casting companies, and upload your demo to online VO talent libraries. Aim nationally if not internationally and leave no stone unturned. Don’t send MP3 email attachments, but rather a one-click link to navigate to your profile or website. Make it as easy as possible. Social media links are a no-no as they are too personal and do not convey the professional image you should be cultivating.

Also, make your blast interesting. Your email should be visually pleasing with unique to you info like the inside scoop on your last gig, your latest audition, or an invitation to an important event (complimentary) that you’re involved in. Send them a little something with your company name like a fun light-up pen, mints, or chapstick. Remember holidays, birthdays, and events. A good rule of thumb is 2550 blasts a month that potentially could be 600 new leads by the end of the year!

You should also be meticulous. Create a detailed time management chart to hold yourself accountable and stay on track. Consider having a hard copy and an online calendar in case one is lost. Keeping a large whiteboard space for visuals front and center is a great tool. Seeing is believing and charting your schedule, your goals, and your plans keep you accountable and in check. Color, stickies, and photos keep your schedule alive, active, and fun to work with.

Chart out tasks and targets for each marketing day as well. Keep track of what you have sent and to whom. This means filing dates, names, and details of who is in the industry and who is out. Make sure to flag leads to retag every 23 months with updates.

Remember you’re the captain of your ship. Success in the dynamic world of VO begins and ends with you. You have in your power the ability to make your voice heard, so get out there and do your thing! 

*This post was originally published on Feb. 18, 2020. It has since been updated.

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Lau Lapides
Lau is a voiceover coach and casting director working out of Boston and New York.
See full bio and articles here!