6 Key Elements That Add Up to a Successful Voiceover Demo

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The best voiceover demos demonstrate the sort of work you intend to land and seamlessly reveal the sort of work you’re best suited to book. To achieve this end, there are essentially six key elements that add up to a truly successful voiceover demo.

1. Coach
Get in front of a mic. Discover and develop techniques that will elevate and advance your skills. Even if you’re an experienced actor, broadcaster, or radio personality, you’ll still benefit from the expertise of a coach. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Coaching allows you the opportunity to develop a rapport with your potential demo coach/producer and concentrate your efforts on your performance. Developing good performance habits that offer believable, natural, conversational deliveries is imperative. We get precious little direction out in the field as professionals, but the one constant is: “be yourself.”

2. Copy
Strong material is the basis for a truly competitive voiceover demo, much like dressing appropriately for a role or performance. Copy offers context and takes the guesswork out of the equation for those most likely to cast you as to your greatest assets and performance strengths.

While five or six spots will ultimately end up on your commercial demo, and four or five will likely make up your narrative track, plan on recording at least eight scripts for the commercial and no less than six segments for the industrial. In other words, record more spots than you’ll need to complete either demo. You want a surplus to afford yourself greater variety and options in post-production.

Generally, I don’t recommend talent choose their own material for the simple reason they tend to lack the long view, regardless of their experience or skill level. Consider how many actors choose monologues for themselves that don’t showcase their greatest assets; the same can be said for voice talent when it comes to finding copy for their voiceover demos. Like their monologue counterpart, talent often choose scripts with the sole mission to show how “versatile” they are, before ever defining who they are.

READ: 7 Ways Actors Can Get Voiceover Work

3. Create
Recording the tracks for your demo requires more care and attention than you’d devote to your daily auditions. Ideally, these tracks will define you for a number of years to come. Therefore, only recording one or two takes isn’t going to cut it.

But, like your auditions, your mission is to offer a few exceptional deliveries that engage the listeners’ imaginations, depict mood, formulaic style, plausibility, and expression.

4. Produce
The production values should seamlessly underscore your skills and further lend credibility to where you best fit in a mass medium. Each spot on your commercial demo should sound like a legitimate national (union) spot. And professional production values are best accomplished by enlisting professional services. Listen to numerous demos to determine proper production values that underscore and support your performance.

Just because you can record and edit your auditions from home doesn't mean you should self-produce. Invest in yourself.

5. Promote
There’s no point in having a demo if no one knows you have one. Just as having talent isn’t even half of what makes someone successful, the same can be said for having a demo. Without proper promotion, your best efforts will lie dormant and could very well die on the vine. It’s your responsibility for ensuring your demo is available to those most likely to hire you.

6. Persist
As the saying goes, “Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.” It typically takes three-to-five years to establish any small business. And that’s with a great deal of due diligence. Therefore it stands to reason if you commit the same attention to your voiceover and acting career, the likelihood of succeeding increases by a dramatic margin.

The moral to the story: stay the course and stay in your lane. Keep in mind you’re creating your demos to appeal to professional producers who typically spend years in advertising before settling into their industry specialty. But even they struggle with good taste and foresight—it’s only human. Your voiceover demo is the tool that bridges that gap.

Ready to test your skills? Check out our voiceover audition listings!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Kate McClanaghan
Kate McClanaghan is a casting director, producer, and founder of both Big House Casting & Audio (Chicago and Los Angeles) and Actors’ Sound Advice. She’s a seasoned industry veteran and actor who has trained actors and produced demos for more than 5,000 performers over her 30 years in the business.