Updated June 2.
When you’re looking to hire a voice over talent, you might find yourself lost in a world of countless choices.
Of course, your desire is to make a risk-free decision and go with someone that fits your needs and brand voice like a glove.
You’re searching for someone who’s at the top of their game, and who knows how to take custom requirements and transform them into spectacular voice overs.
But how can you make sure you actually find the perfect fit for your business?
It’s easier than you think.
In this article, we’re going to let you in the 10 best vocal qualities to look for when hiring a voice over talent.
These vocal qualities will help you assess whether or not a certain voice talent is able to perform to your standards.
Because, while there are countless talented voice actors out there, not all will be suited for your needs.
Just think of Seth MacFarlane, the funny voice that brings Family Guy to life.
He’s truly exceptional, but would he be able to bring The Joker to life?
Probably not as well as Mark Hamill did.
You see, different characters can be best interpreted by specific voices and, even if we’re not talking about cartoons, the same goes for your commercial, audiobook or voicemail.
So, by following our set of particular qualities, you’ll narrow down your choices and ultimately make the best hire decision for your needs.
But first, let’s set a couple of notions straight.
A voice over talent is an actor who records the narration, monologue, or dialogue for a diverse range of videos or business materials.
Think about radio commercials, explainer videos, voicemails, or even some video production.
All these are essentially based on scripts that someone must read in order for them to come to life.
Here’s where the voice over talent steps in to record the script into an audio format that will then be overlaid to the video or that will act as a stand-alone.
In case of videos, voice over talents are used to provide additional information, or narrate essential plot elements.
In case of audio materials (such as radio ads), voice over talents provide the core material.
In either case, voice over talents need to have a particular set of qualities to be able to deliver a great recording.
Voice acting is a career path that doesn’t require degrees or formal education.
However, that doesn’t mean that voice actors have no career-schooling whatsoever.
The best voice actors out there do have training courses under their belt, but — most importantly — they have perfected their skills on-the-job.
Practicing is the only way in which voice over talents can pick-up the particular skills needed to impersonate different characters.
Plus, there are other skills they need to learn in order to perform at their best: people skills.
A professional voice talent will know how to interact with clients and ask the right questions in order to deliver a voice performance that’s on cue.
This knowledge and intuition comes with performing for various clients, in various industries, and can’t be replaced by anything else.
If you want to make sure the voice professional you hire has the right experience, ask for their portfolio.
If they have worked in radio, or have taken acting and diction courses, you’ll know you’re on the right track.
You want to make sure that the professional you choose has a lot of practical experience, and is accustomed to being in a recording studio.
Versatility is a key quality for recording professional voice overs.
That’s why you should ask for various voice samples from your voice talent prospects in order to assess their flexibility.
Ask for voice recordings of different types of commercials, audiobooks, or even cartoons, to see if they are able to adapt their tone.
Can your potential voice actors change their tone from serious to funny, or from sales-y to casual?
Remember that doing a great job as the voice of a villain doesn’t guarantee the voice talent will be able to nail your car dealership commercial.
However, versatility does provide a guarantee.
Another aspect you should consider — even if it’s not a must — is a voice actor’s ability to speak with different accents.
However, if accents are not something your business focuses on; feel free to give a free pass for this quality.
Many people consider versatility and range to be one and the same thing.
While these two are equally important, they are different.
While versatility tests an actor’s ability of impersonating different tones, range directly relates to one’s ability to change the pitch of their voice.
Vocal range is measured from the lowest note to the highest note a voice talent can sustain.
This is extremely important if you want to cover a diverse set of emotions, or if you’re looking to record an audiobook with different characters.
However, it’s also important for smaller audio materials such as commercials or voicemails.
Changes in range can prove to be extremely effective in capturing listeners’ attention and producing memorable content.
When you find a talented voice actor, chances are you’ll want to stick with them in the long-run.
That’s why you must make sure that they can be consistent, in all aspects of your collaboration: from vocal quality to timing and availability.
The last thing you want is a performer who delivers rollercoaster recordings, and keeps you guessing on how the next one will be like.
While most good VO actors will definitely be in high-demand, that doesn’t mean you should always fit your schedule around theirs.
Keep in mind that a collaboration should be equitable to both parties, and that means finding a common ground.
To make sure you’ll get along in the long-run, don’t make hires based on only one good sample.
Check out several recordings before you commit to any collaboration.
And, as importantly, have a casual discussion with your prospects to see if you’re compatible.
Voice talents exert themselves just as much during quiet scenes as they do during loud ones.
VO actor Courtenay Taylor suffered a vocal cord hemorrhage voicing a video game, while she was recording a series of whispering lines.
No matter if the script requires the actor to shout, whimper, cry, or whisper, the talent needs to deliver the lines in a believable, clear manner.
And that takes a lot of effort and technique.
Moreover, the range of human emotions is endless, so you want to make sure you hire someone who can voice them all with clarity.
It may sound easy, but how many times have you gotten excited and someone said, "Slow down! I can't understand you!"?
Professional voice overs should always be easy to understand, and that means your actor should know how to cry, scream, or be excited with clarity.
Enunciation is everything, so pay close attention to this aspect when you’re going through demo recordings.
On top of clarity, you should check whether or not your actor is expressing each word properly.
The last thing you want is to record a muttered commercial or voicemail.
Your talent should be able to easily enunciate even the most complex words, while expressing the emotion behind the scene.
If you stumble upon tongue-tied demo recordings, continue your searches.
Remember that voice actors select their best performances for the demo recordings, so having a less than perfect enunciation in one of these should be a definite warning signal.
While this might sound harsh, having exceptional enunciation in voice-over work is basically voice over 101.
Here is where the amateurs get separated from the real pros.
In case the demo recording is not conclusive in this aspect, don’t shy away from asking for a mini-audition.
Come up with a list of difficult to pronounce words and ask the voice talent to enunciate them for you.
Consider words such as rural, asterisk, or cavalry.
Everyone expects professional voice overs to be naturally articulate, and have an unimpeded flow that’s also authentic.
Make sure not to mistake clarity with natural articulation.
While it’s easy to confuse the two, the subtle difference that sets them apart is crucial for the success of your recording.
To be more specific, a natural articulate voice talent will not only express words with clarity, but they will do so naturally, with an uninterrupted cadence.
A professional voice talent should be able to go through a sentence flawlessly, without using any filler words” no “uhms,” no “aaaahs,” no “uuuhs.”
If you hear any of these in any demo, press stop and move to the next.
Good pacing is essential for delivering a message on cue.
Plus, whether you aim to record a commercial, a voicemail, or an explainer video, you’ll want to respect a certain time limit.
That’s why pacing is a voice quality you shout scout for and make no compromises when it comes to a voice talent’s ability to maintain a certain cadence.
You want someone experienced enough to assess how fast they should be talking in order to fit the desired message in the required time limit.
Whether they have 15 seconds or minutes on end, their pacing should be spread evenly throughout the recording.
To understand where a potential hire stands, listen to their demos carefully from start to end: are the lines delivered at the same speed or do they seem rushed towards the end?
Listen to a demo for as many times as needed before you make a decision.
Remember, this can make or break your recording.
While you should never hire a voice actor only based on a resume, it’s a good place to start.
Resumes can help you form a good idea of a talent’s abilities and professional range.
It can guide you towards shortlisting a couple of actors that have worked on similar projects in the past.
OR it can help you make up your mind if you have a tiebreaker between two (or more) equally amazing voice actors.
However, make sure to always (always!) ask for demo recordings and even go through a second-step selection with in-parson auditions.
In the case of voice talents, resumes simply cannot replace audio portfolios and demo samples.
After all, you’re hiring someone for their voice and it would be simply counterintuitive to select without even listening to a word.
When counting all the factors that weigh in on your hiring decision, money shouldn’t be a driving aspect.
Of course, you need to be realistic and stay within budget, but you also need to realize that quality usually equals higher rates.
As cliche as it may sound, you really do get what you pay for.
Remember, a skilled, trained professional voice talent will probably cost you more in the here and now, but will save you tons of resources in the long run.
Their qualities and abilities are a guarantee that they’ll do the job in the shortest amount of time, with few to no mistakes.
That means you’ll get your content produced faster and delivered quicker to your audience.
And this can only lead to better results.
When searching to hire a voice over talent, avoid looking for the needle in the haystack by using a professional voice-over company.
A company such as Amazing Voice will have several professional actors available for you to choose from.
They will know the best pros in the field, and will cover an extremely wide range suitable for all types of videos.
They’ll also have demo’s at-hand and will provide you with all the necessary materials to help you make the best hire.
Not to mention that professional voice-over companies are always willing to do auditions and ensure your needs are being met.
With a company by your side, you won’t have to worry about contracts, clauses, or invoices, as you’ll have the guarantee that everything is done professionally.
They’ll have the needed experience to help you flawlessly move through the recording process without hassle.
If you’re serious about recording professional voice overs, contact us today.
Updated December 30, 2021.
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