As a VoiceOver coach and producer, as well as a sometimes casting agent, I have spent a LOT of time listening to auditions. Auditioning is the "work" of a voiceover actor, and is a skill that often takes some practice to master. The good news is, that the more you do it, the better and more efficient you get at it. So what's the secret to casting directors choosing your voice for their next project over all of the other great voices? Here are a few tips that'll help you get started nailing those auditions today.
1. Read the Instructions!
It's all too easy to forget the most important part of the process: reading the instructions! It is truly amazing just how many times I have encountered a voice actor who did not follow directions correctly when submitting an audition. This is important folks! There is way too much competition for you to lose out for a simple error in following directions. Casting specs, slating, and file naming are important parts of the process that many overlook.
Before you even start recording, make sure you understand everything that is required of you. Do you fit the casting specs? Slate or no slate? When is the audition due? How many takes? If a specific file format (like a .wav or mp3) is requested, make sure you convert it and name it correctly before sending it in! There's nothing more frustrating to a busy casting director than a file that doesn't match the specifications required. I'll end this section with a stern warning - FOLLOW.DIRECTIONS. Period! Don't give unnecessary homework to your potential clients!
"You can't tell the story if you don't know the story." - Anne Ganguzza
2. Read the Entire Script First
Too many of us rush into our studios and try to get the audition done as fast as possible. You can't tell the story if you don't know the story. Read the whole script aloud to yourself before you start recording your audition. This will help you get familiar with who you are and the context of the story, as well as discover, any long-winded sentences and/or pronunciations you may need to get familiar with. Determine the purpose of the script - are you trying to sell something? Educate or entertain?
By the way, you should practice the skill of reading out loud daily - it can help you improve your cold reading skills and make your speech more fluid. And it will help you with getting those auditions produced more efficiently!
3. The More You Know...
It helps to have some knowledge about what you are reading and why it matters to the listener (or viewer). Google is your friend! If the company or product is disclosed in the specs or copy (a lot of times it is), do some research to understand who or what they are all about, as well as who their audience is. Check the website for a product breakdown, or videos that explain the product or how it works. Also, check the website for the company's YouTube or Vimeo channel to see if they have any existing commercials or how-to videos. Listen to the tone, the music, and for any sonic branding of the company. Make sure you know how to pronounce the company/product name!
The more you know about what you are talking about, the more believable your performance will be, which will make casting directors want to hire you more often!
4. Set the Scene and Move with it
Who are you, Who are you talking to? Where are you? Make sure to always think about your connection with the listener. Be as expressive as possible, using your face and body to really sell your character. Think about the story you’re telling. What is happening in this story? How does it make you FEEL? You want to evoke an emotion in your voice that matches what is happening on screen or in print. If it’s a sad moment, make it sad — if it’s happy, be happy!
That said, also make sure you are moving with the story. Not only physically moving behind the mic to help you emote better, but mentally moving as well. Check yourself midway through the copy. What is happening in the scene? How is your audience feeling and reacting? Where are they in the story? Where are you?
You don't need to overdramatize here, but you DO need a point of view and a nuanced emotion to be truly effective. This is what makes your audition uniquely YOU. Bringing YOU to the party will help connect with your listener and keep them engaged with what they’re hearing.
5. Send it and Forget it!
Confidence is key for auditions! You should feel confident about yourself as well as your work before sending any material off into the world. Most voice actors when they first start out second-guess themselves and their auditions, sometimes re-recording the same audition 15-20 times! Don't be that person! Be efficient and don’t waste valuable time. By take 15, you don't even have a sense of what you are listening to anymore. It's best to limit your takes. Try only doing three and picking the best from those. If you have a take 2, make sure it is very different from your take 1!
Once your audition is complete, make sure to double-check your audio - you want that audition to sound pristine! How sad to lose out on an audition just because your home studio sound isn't up to the industry standards of today. Consider hiring a reputable engineer to make sure your studio sounds as it should so you can be confident that your audio or environment won't be the problem.
Then send it, and FORGET it! Too many times actors can spend valuable time stressing about the audition and waiting for feedback. More than likely, you won't get feedback unless you are shortlisted or get the gig. And sometimes clients can take months (I have even had one client come back to me after a year!) to make a decision. Just send it and get on to the next one!
Auditioning can certainly be challenging. Keep these tips in mind to help you on your journey. And don't be afraid to put yourself out there and really bring YOU to the party. If you have any tips that have helped you prepare your auditions more effectively, we'd love to hear them in the comments below! In the meantime, you can also check out the latest VO BOSS episode for more great Auditions Tips!
Thanks for reading!
Keep on rocking your business like a #VOBOSS
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Anne Ganguzza is a professional voice actor and award-winning director and producer who works with students to develop their voiceover and business skills - including voice over Coaching and Genre-based Demo Production. She specializes in conversational Commercial & Narration styles, including Corporate, eLearning, Technology, and On-Hold Messaging. Located in Orange County, California, Anne offers private coaching and mentoring services to students via ipDTL and Zoom.