5 Ways to Know if You Have the Right Kind of Voice for Voice Overs - Carrie Olsen Voiceover

5 Ways to Know if You Have the Right Kind of Voice for Voice Overs

If you’ve been blessed with a great voice or people are regularly telling you you should get into voiceover, you might be wondering what, exactly, it takes to make it as a voice actor. I mean, how do you know if you really do have the right kind of voice?

Carrie Olsen Voice OverThe last thing you want is to invest a bunch of time, money, and effort in your new career only to find out your voice just isn’t right for voice overs.

Is there a way to know beforehand if your voice fits into the voice over market?

Here’s a quick rundown of five ways you can tell if your voice could “make it” in the world of voiceovers.

*You’ll quickly find out that voice acting isn’t “just talking”.

(Learn more about what is involved in being a successful voice actor in my comprehensive getting started in voice over post. This post includes how to get voice over work with no experience.)

How to Know if You Have a Good Voice for Voice Acting: 5 Ways to Find Out if You Can Get Paid to do Voice Overs

  1. You have one. Here’s the thing: There are a handful of voice actors in the industry who make millions of dollars every year, drawing us into the latest vampire trilogy, Middle Earth trilogy or Marvel trilogy. They make up maybe .01% of voice actors, and their voices are amazing. They’re perfect. Strong, deep, resonant, and smooth. And that’s great. But guess what. The other 99.99% of the work is being done by people who sound… like people. People who don’t necessarily have anything special going on with their vocal cords, but they resonate with the advertisers target market because they sound like them. What I mean is, the voice in the commercial sounds just like a friend, not like a movie trailer. A good voice acting friend of mine once told me that “every product has a voice”. Tools, trucks, towels, tacos, TV shows, turkey burgers, traveling by train… Everything has a voice and a voice actor’s job is to draw it out and speak it into the world. Are you into gaming? Your voice could probably sell to other gamers. It will sound familiar to them. Are you into tennis? Your voice could probably sell to other athletes. Love live theatre and music? Your enthusiasm will come through! But you’re not just limited to your immediate interests as long as…
  2. You can act happy, sad, excited, nervous, or scared on demand. Voice acting is, after all, acting. And the craft is much more about being able to communicate basic human emotions through your voice than it is about sounding polished. Chances are a voiceover job will go to someone who can convey the message of the script believably before it will go to someone who can’t act but has a nice voice. Having a nice voice is maybe 5% of what’s needed to make money online as a voice actor.
  3. You’ve ever related to someone’s voice you’ve heard on the TV or radio and can sound relatable to others (again, on-demand). Marketers know their stuff. And they spend a lot of time figuring out exactly who they’re targeting with each ad they produce. Many times zone out when ads come on. But every once in a while, you’ll hear the start of an ad, and all of a sudden, you’ll perk up. Maybe the ad makes you smile or laugh. Maybe it reminds you of something that happened in your life. Whatever the reaction, you respond emotionally, as if the ad is talking specifically to you. So much of voice acting is visualizing your scene so you can produce this reaction in others.
  4. You sound bold. Or weak, nasally, screechy, weird or even annoying! If you have a nasally voice, you’re never going to play the role of Batman. But luckily for you, someone’s got to play the Joker. Many would-be voice actors get caught up in thinking that the quality of their voice would keep them from booking jobs. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. Use your voice to your advantage. Carve out a niche for yourself based on the type of role you get cast most in. Then, run with it! Gilbert Gottfried and his “annoying” voice has over a hundred credits on his IMBD page for his voice alone, not even including his on camera roles. He found where his voice fit in and I’m sure he isn’t losing any sleep over people thinking his voice is annoying. There is plenty of need for people who can scream and yell, whisper, sound old, sound young, laugh, cry, and everything in between. Some actors make it in the business because they can play a wide range of characters and some make it big because they can do just a few things really, really well. Your voice over coach will help you navigate the market to see where your voice fits in.
  5. You can read really well. Okay, I know this one has more to do with your academic abilities than your actual voice, but reading well is an important component of voice acting. Depending on the type of voiceover you’re doing, you could have to read hours of scripts at a time. It will be a lot easier on you (and everyone else if you’re recording in a studio) if you are able to run through the script without having to stop and reset every other sentence. Unlike your voice, this is something that you have quite a bit of control over. If you find yourself struggling to read fluently, make a point to practice. Carry books around with you, and when you have downtime, practice reading out loud. Yes, out loud. Even in public. It will build character. It might sound easy; you’ve been reading for how many years? But the producers can tell right away if it sounds like you are reading. Taking words on a page and turning them into a story that communicates the message your client is paying you for takes more than reading.
  6. *BONUS* You’re really coachable. No matter where you’re starting from, you’re likely to need coaching. The more receptive you are to coaching, and the more ability you have to take your coach’s direction, the better.

So, to wrap things up, don’t get discouraged if your voice doesn’t sound like Viola Davis or Morgan Freeman. You may be missing out on booking work in a very specific niche. And on the other hand, don’t think that having an amazing DJ voice automatically means you have what it takes to be a voice actor. Doing well in this industry takes a lot more than just smooth talking.

Related articles:

Voiceover Practice Scripts: Where to find them and what to do next.

Five Things to do Before You Start Auditioning For Voice Over Jobs

Do You Have To Have A Voice Over Coach to be Successful?

How to Get Started in Voice Over

Interested in seeing how you and your voice will do in the voice over world?

Grab up my free guide to getting started in voiceover.


Good talk!


Carrie Olsen

I'm a full-time professional voice actor and voiceover business coach. I have done work for Taco Bell, REI, BNSF Railway, Bank of America and ESPN to name a few. I dreamed up this community of voice actors to connect, grow, learn and get mentorship from each other. We're the most dedicated group of voice actors on the net, and we're here to help each other build and sustain profitable voiceover businesses.

Carrie Olsen Voiceover