Whether you’ve hired a lot of voiceover artists in the past or are new to the industry, there are specific skills you can look for in your talent. By identifying these seven benchmarks, your voice over artist and your project will have an increased chance of success!
#1 Quality Audio
Demos are often a great indicator of the type of performance you’ll get from your voice over artist but may have been produced outside an actor’s home studio. An audition may better reveal their sound quality, but to verify the quality of their audio, make sure you ask your potential voice artist to share their studio specs. They should have a good condenser or hyper-cardioid microphone as well as a sound-treated recording space, like a Whisperroom or Studio Bricks.
#2 Voice Acting Talent
Good professional voice artists have a range. A one-trick pony will not be able to deliver anything but one sound and one style. Their demo should show the range of their acting talent. This shows you they’ll be able to follow directions or change up the character when you need them to.
#3 They Understand Your Message
Script analysis is a big part of being a great voice over artist. They need to read between the lines and understand your message and have insight into your brand. They should effectively be the conduit, that very human connection between your company and its message and your target. The artist needs to demonstrate that they understand who really wants to hear what you have to say, and how they will be fulfilled, relieved, happier, or motivated once they’ve heard it.
#4 They Understand Your Client
They not only “know your audience,” but they can also bring them into the narrative with them. This is something I teach as a voice over coach. A quality actor understands that they are not just spewing your words into the void but are really talking TO the people you wish to connect with. They see that target in their minds and know how to speak so that your message resonates and stays with your target.
#5 They Understand Your Needs
Although similar to the two points above, this is more overarching, less about voice over and more about service. They will be open to comment and critique, take direction well and be as accommodating as possible. A professional voice over artist is running a business and recognizes that you are too. They will communicate quickly with you and respect your time. They will be clear about expectations, yours and theirs.
#6 Glowing Reviews and Recommendations
Good reviews are indicative of happy clients, and happy clients only commit to writing reviews if the voice over artist has delivered. Look for reviews that boost credibility and are things that you seek in your collaborations, such as: easy to work with, responsive, skilled, talented, knew what I wanted, attention to detail.
Most voice over platforms will have a section for reviews, and more established voice over artists will likely have a testimonials section on their website. And if they don’t, they should, because these words are powerful, and provide trust, credibility, and connection.
#7 Availability and Reliability
The internet is rife with stories of voice over artists vanishing at the worst possible moment. During the pandemic, a lot of new voices joined online platforms on a whim, thinking that voice over is easy and that they might make a dollar or two. Think about whether that is something you want. Someone who does voice over as a side gig? They may be too busy to bring you consistent quick turnaround times or be available throughout the day and week. They might even quit, never to be heard from again.
This morning I have two clients – one who goes to air in five days with a pickup on a two-year-old TV spot, and another with updated changes to a phone system I recorded and produced for them. If I didn’t make sure I was available, both would lose money in delays and unexpected reshoots.
Bonus Points: Going Beyond the Benchmarks a Voice Over Artist Needs
What ancillary services does your voice over artist offer? Can they do copyediting, music, and sound effects, do they know people in the industry who can help with other services? A full-service voice artist is equipped with a full arsenal of tools that can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
The best way to identify the skill set and extra talent an artist has is simply to ask or check out their website. I have a full page dedicated solely to the extra services I offer my clients. You can tell I think it’s an important (bonus) feature. If you want to go above and beyond what your clients expect, you need to find a voice over artist that will do the same.
Have you worked with a voice over artist who meets these benchmarks? How did it go? If you have additional thoughts on the skills that make a significant difference, share them here!