For voice actors, auditioning for and booking eLearning content is similar to other kinds of voice over – you need to have a great sample of what you can do ready to send out at a moment’s notice. This is especially vital for eLearning voice over samples. For most voice over talent (save pros with state-of-the-art home studios), this either means running off to a recording studio or having samples or demos pre-recorded. Similarly, each option has a cost. One is the literal cost of renting last-minute studio space – the other is creating a set of demos or samples you can use off the shelf. It’s a reality that voice over actors face daily.
Difference Between eLearning Samples and eLearning Demos
Although the two might seem interchangeable, voice over demos, and voice over samples, are entirely different things. Okay, maybe not entirely – but enough to warrant a brief but exceedingly essential explanation about why they aren’t one-in-the-same.
What Are Voice Over Demos?
Anyone scouting voice talent has heard a demo at some point – and anyone hoping to work in the voice over world has had to record one. But just in case you’re new to the industry or green behind the desk, voice over demos are generalized assortments of demonstrational recordings. While not necessarily representative of a collective body of work, they’re indicative of what a voice actor is capable of and show off their range.
What Are Voice Over Samples?
Where demos offer a broad sense of what a voice over actor is capable of, samples are more specific bytes of audio recordings, often tailored to potential performances. That said, they’re usually specific readings of source material, deliberately tailored to the body of work a voice actor auditions for a part in.
One is for show; the other is for tell. Samples can be in demos, but demos aren’t necessarily samples. One is ready and waiting on a voice actor’s portfolio or website, and the other serves a more defined purpose and acts as a point of reference.
How Do You Do a Voiceover Sample?
First, read the sample script several times to understand what it is about and why the message(s) embedded in it are essential. Know who you are and who you are talking to. All of this is your script preparation. Then, use the best recording equipment you have. If this means your cell phone, that’s fine. Cell phone quality is pretty good, but make sure the room you record is small and stand near curtains or other fabric to dampen room noise.
Listen back critically and imagine you are the casting director. Is what you recorded the winning voiceover sample? Don’t worry about adding music, sound effects, or any effects on your voice. First of all, it’s a sample. Voice seekers know a sample won’t have the same quality as a finished file. And secondly, eLearning rarely has music or sound effects in the finished product, let alone a sample.
Why eLearning Voice Over Samples Are Important
When it comes to eLearning, voice over samples are so important because they’re not just reflective of a voice actor’s flexibility but a testament to the work they’ve already done. If you’re planning to release an eLearning course, it helps to know that your voice actor has already done that area of work. You don’t just want to be sure they’ve recorded similar eLearning content – you need to be confident they’ve done it well. And that’s where the importance of eLearning voice over samples comes in.
eLearning Voice Over Samples Are Professional
Getting your eLearning voiceover sample to your voice seeker, agent, or casting professional quickly gives you a great advantage. In the time it takes to record and produce a new sample, a casting director may have already moved on to another actor. And from the point of view of a casting director, sifting through endless demo reels and scouting voice talent needs to be as time-friendly as humanly possible. Especially when time constraints are a factor, the last thing a casting director wants to do is devote extra attention to voice actors who can’t demonstrate a cohesive body of work in eLearning. After all, the point of eLearning voice overs is to speak with the confidence and authority of an accredited educator.
For less experienced voice actors, it’s a fine line to walk between being over (and under) prepared for a role. As a professional voice actor with more than 30 years of learned experience, I can attest that unless a voice actor constantly auditions for the same jobs, it’s no small feat to have every niche of content ready at the tips of your fingers.
A Great Voice Actor Always Has Samples
As a voice over actor, you’ll be asked for a sample under more than a few different circumstances – but more often than not, it’s to make sure you’re a good fit for the performance. And the fact is, a great voice actor that’s recorded eLearning content before will always have a sample ready.
Whether it’s a 30-second excerpt from a project they’ve already done or a fresh audio track recorded for an audition, professional voice over actors will always stand out from the newbies. They already know what they’re doing, and eLearning voice over samples make it easy for them to demonstrate it. The level of skill they possess comes through in the clarity of their voice. Similarly, the ability to make changes at the drop of a hat showcases their flexibility as an actor.
So when a professional voice actor sends over a sample, you can immediately recognize whether or not they know how to do what you need. Unlike demos, where actors have all the time to be prepared for a potential role and sound like their ideal selves, samples are a little more nuanced. They’re either recorded quickly or kept tucked away from a previous job as proof they’ve narrated eLearning content already.