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Tuesday, December 8, 2020

A Voice Over Actor Guide for Landing Documentary Jobs


A quality voice over is critical in documentaries.  While the visual takes you into the story, it is the voice over actor that gets you the information and takes the viewer on the journey.

The storyline is what captures the audience and keeps them engaged, and it can only be done with the best voice over narrator. This is called "in-show" narration. You can see it effectively done on popular cable network programming as on Discovery Channel, History Channel, ID, Animal Planet, etc.

When starting many voice-over actors find that it can be challenging.  However, with some training and practice, it can be very rewarding and open up more job opportunities.  There are several skills that you can master to become great at documentaries.

 Context and Tone

The first thing is to understand the context of the documentary.  Documentaries are informational and can be from serious topics like wars and global warming to the lives of celebrities.  By understanding the context and the tone it will help you decide upon the voice acting style to use.

The choice of the voice-over actor will depend on the audience as well.  If the target audience is children, then a lighter, more youthful voiceover may be preferred than that of a solemn voice. 

What are the different reading levels your voice naturally lends its hand to?  While you may have many style options, consider the script when considering the opportunity. Even if you have to make up your own "backstory" (because very little was provided for you in say an audition) you will create an interesting read.


Timing is key to a good narration.  As a voice-over actor, it is something that needs to be perfected to keep the documentary jobs coming your way.  The voice needs to be paced to match the picture.  REad and understand all the visual cues provided in the script. A voice-over actor is also expected to be cool under pressure while sounding natural.

Creative Collaboration

When auditioning for a documentary, give different readings to the script (if permitted), so that you are giving creative options and possibly adding more dimension to the script.  As an industry professional, it is looked upon for you to give ideas and collaborate.  The goal of the director is to have a film that speaks to the audience and one that they enjoy.


Some filmmakers will choose to localize their voiceover in a way to appeal to different audiences all over the world.  One example of this is the documentary Planet Earth in the original version David Attenborough was the voice-over actor, however, in the US version, it was Sigourney Weaver.

The good news is that while your voice may not be used in all versions of the film, it opens up the opportunity to voice over actors to work on more films.

Accept Feedback

Accept criticism and constructive feedback about your work.  The only way to progress in the voice-over industry is to learn from each job and improve your skills.

It Takes Work

Always keep in mind that the best documentary narrators understand you do not just walk into the studio, read the script, and it is ready for viewers.  Take the time to understand the script, perfect the voice to match the content and the timing.  As a successful professional voice over actor, it is these skills and understanding who my voice appeals to best, that has given me a successful career. Know thy voice!

Monday, December 7, 2020

Marketing Tips for Voice Over Talent


Marketing yourself is a great way to find job opportunities in the industry.  It is not only about being a skilled voice-over actor, it is about being seen and found.  With the voice over talent pool being large and competitive, you need to have a marketing plan in addition to the skills.  Voice over talent is a business and you offer a service.  Here are some marketing tips to help you be seen and ultimately book more jobs.


As a voice-over talent, you must have a website.  Think of it as your online calling card.  The website needs to be user friendly, fast and very easy to navigate.  If your site is complicated, a visitor will not hesitate to leave as fast as they found it.

Having a website without demos will do very little in the way of booking jobs, so make sure to have several examples of the type and style options. Right on your landing page!

Within the website content make sure that you used keywords like voice over, voice-over talent, so that your website has a better chance of getting ranked.


Blogging is an effective way to get your voice heard, but more importantly, quality content and utilizing keywords will help your search engine optimization.  What that means is it will get you noticed by search engines as a voice-over talent and people can find you when searching.  The more web presence you have, the more likely you will be found.

Email Newsletters

An email once a month with your latest work included will help keep you at the forefront of prospective clients.  Email marketing is a largely successful avenue that draws a big return on investment.  Do not overwhelm your prospective with weekly email newsletters. 

Get Yourself Listed on Voice Over Talent Websites

Get yourself and your demos listed on voice talent sites.  There are many sites specifically for voice over talent, Voices.com, Voice123.com,VOtalent.com, and more.  Besides being on these sites, you need to keep your demos current on them.  The worst thing is having someone listen to a demo that you did many years ago when you have better work to showcase. Just be aware of the business practices of these sites. You need to decide whether or not playing the "crap shoot" style search for getting jobs is really worth the time. Don't sell yourself short either. Bid with a fair price for your ability to bring your unique voice to a particular project. Working only on the low end of a bid will not be satisfying in the end.

Social Media Profiles

Whether you are a social media pro or amateur, you must have at the very least a LinkedIn profile.  LinkedIn is built for business networking and works extremely well for making connections.  For voice over talent, this is a great place to find directors, producers, agents, and job opportunities.  Focus on setting up your profile to have links to demos, resume, your website, and information about your work.  Also, join voice-over talent groups as a way of connecting and sharing information.

Research Production Companies

Research production companies near you, in your city or state. And because geography in the voice-over industry is not limited, search broader.  Once you have a list of production companies, research the type of work they do and if they hire voice over talent.  If you don’t like their work, then take them off the list, not every production company will be a good match.

With your research, learn as much about them as possible before contacting them.  Find out the info on the creative director and email or call them.  By knowing specifics, it shows that you did your homework.  Send some information about yourself and some demos and see if they are interested in keeping you on file for future projects. This is tedious work so just do this with a few companies each week. That makes for an easier way to keep track of what you're doing and makes follow-up easier.