Voiceover Best Practices | Get the Most Out of Voice Talent

voiceover best practices

Visuals are crucial to a successful video, but without the right voice to deliver your message, you won’t get the maximum engagement—and retention—that you need. And if your voiceover is truly a wrong fit, you’ll run the risk of distracting your audience and failing to connect entirely. 

So how can you be sure you’re getting the most out of your voice talent? Let’s review some best practices in working with voiceover talent.

Know What you are Looking For

The first important choices come in the selection process. In a word, know what you want from a voiceover artist. Do all that you can to ensure that you get the talent that can deliver. If you want a mid-range woman’s voice with a non-specific American accent, don’t give up after a few samples that aren’t quite there.  Keep listening to available actors until you find what you want.

This is why producers at TruScribe don’t limit our clients to the first talent selections we suggest. We want to hear the client say “She’s the one I want to read my script” with enthusiasm. We don’t want to hear “I’ll settle for this actor, I suppose.”

Of course, if an actor sounds almost perfect, remember that you’ll probably be able to coach them during your session. You can still reach an enthusiastic “yes” with an actor that sounds great. Don’t be put off immediately by work samples that you’d like to be just a little more upbeat, for example. The actor can likely perform that way as well.

Choose to be (virtually) Present for the recording session

That brings us to another choice in our voiceover best practices: how does this actor record?  Will they simply send you a recording of your script? Or will you be able to be ‘in the booth’ during the session?  If the latter is the case, you’ve got a much better ability to coach the actor to read in just the way you need.

The other reason that facilitated phone patches and other participatory recording options are great involves your script. If you’re able to communicate with your talent, you can tell them how to pronounce that tricky term or name, give them tone direction, and more. If not, you might need to rely on a message sent with your script, or simply hope for the best.

Provide Encouragement and Support

Let’s move down the timeline a bit: you’ve selected your talent and you’re happy with the way you’ll be recording.  And let’s assume that recording will happen ‘in the booth’, as it does at TruScribe, affording you the highest amount of interaction with your talent.  How can you continue to get the best read possible?

The first thing to remember should be easy: be kind and professional. Voice acting is a specialized skill. If everyone could do it, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article—you’d just be recording your own. Be respectful and tell the talent that you appreciate their time and willingness to work with you.

You should also be patient. Just because you know your script from front to back doesn’t mean that the talent does, even if they’ve read it several times since they were hired.  The words you think should naturally receive the most emphasis might not jump off the page to a voice actor the way they do to you.  

Have Patience and Be Collaborative

Be ready to kindly reinforce the points you want to hear read in a specific way.  When the actor makes a mistake, don’t overreact. Chances are good that they’ll realize their own mistake and retake the word or line even without your input. Even if they don’t, they should be very comfortable providing you with pick-ups (rereads) of any areas they misread.  

This leads us into the next of our voiceover best practices to ensure a good relationship during the session and a resulting great read.

Work with the actor, instead of dominating the session. 

If the actor says, “Feel free to interrupt me as soon as you hear a mistake,” take her at her word. And do so if necessary.  If her preference is to complete a paragraph and then ask for your input, follow that cue. And try not to interrupt.

Ask For Options

So, you’ve selected a good actor whose recording style maximizes your ability to get a good read, and you’re participating well with the actor.  What’s left?

Don’t hesitate to ask for an extra take or two, particularly in areas that are of critical importance. You want options to edit, and sometimes you and the actor might both miss a mistake.  There are a number of other reasons to have options. Maybe mixing two sentences really doesn’t work in editing, and you don’t realize it from the session alone. Or maybe a train went by, and the actor’s microphone picked it up but yours didn’t.

Ask about Followup (Pickup) Options

Finally, it’s often useful to ask about post-session pickups. In other words, what happens if you get the recorded audio, and a train did go by—and you have no train-free take of that sentence to use instead?  In the best of cases, the actor will be willing to help you out by providing you a pickup, free of charge, for instances like these. 

Most voiceover actors are willing to do so, but remember again that you’re asking a professional to revisit work without additional payment.  Express your gratitude, acknowledge that they’re taking time from their day to provide this pickup, and try to get this kind of request in as quickly as possible.  An actor is usually more willing to provide post-session pickups if you reach out to them promptly after the session; wait two months, and they’ll likely be less favorably disposed.

Key Takeaways

So, how do you get the most out of voiceover talent?  What voiceover best practices work for you?

Treat them like the professionals they are.  Select carefully.  Figure out their recording style.  Be appropriate and professional in your session, and get an extra take or two when possible.  And if you need a pickup after the session, try to reach out quickly and kindly.

Most of voiceover recording is pleasant and straightforward.  Ensure that yours goes swimmingly with focus, courtesy, and professionalism.