How to Win Voiceover Jobs - Carrie Olsen Voiceover
How to win voiceover jobs

How to Win Voiceover Jobs

Voiceover is a performance-based profession, which tends to draw people who (surprise, surprise) like to perform. But the real surprise is that many people who are very talented at performing, can’t cut it in voiceover. This is because it takes more than being able to do voices well. Winning voice over jobs or getting premium voiceover job's salary takes more than technical skill or voice quality.

You have to be willing to tap into the humanness of each character you portray.

And to be able to get this, you have to have high emotional intelligence to be a good voice over artist.

You have to have high emotional intelligence to be a good voice over artist. #vo #voactor #VOtips

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How to Win Voiceover Jobs

Using Emotional Intelligence as a Voice Actor

Wikipedia defines emotional intelligence as the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations, and desires of other people. This ability is what takes a read from mediocre to excellent.

When you’re doing VO, it should affect you on an emotional level. There is a shift that you can almost see take place when a voice actor gets from that place of, “just reading” to “being the character.” Sometimes it’s evidenced by a more intimate tone that I describe as “leaning in.” Sometimes it is characterized by more thoughtful intonations and use of “white space” (or silences, or beats). This is essentially how to get voice over job opportunities —tapping into your humanness to be able to connect with your audience (which is the #1 goal for any voice over job you will get!).

So how do you increase your emotional intelligence so that you can deliver more captivating reads?

Improve your emotional intelligence to get more voice over jobs

1. Take note of how you are feeling.

It’s easy to go through your day without ever really reflecting on your emotions and what caused them. Try to be intentional about stopping to think about why you had certain reactions. For example, when a friend tells you about a sweet, expensive vacation they have planned for the summer, and your initial reaction is to roll your eyes and then change the subject, take a moment to put words to your feelings. “I was jealous of Dave when he said he was taking his family to Cancun.” But don’t stop there. “I felt jealous because Cancun is my dream vacation spot, but my kids are too young for a trip like that.”

2. Take note of how you’re moving.

Physicality is a big part of delivering a believable voiceover read. Everything from hand gestures to facial expressions, and even your posture. But moving your body in ways that don’t match up with real emotions will not help your reads. In fact, it will hurt them. So start to connect the dots between how you’re feeling and how you’re moving. This Psychology Today article says that you can increase your emotional intelligence (or EI) by tapping into this connection. For example, when you’re excited, your heart might start to beat fast, and your shoulders may tense up

3. Let yourself feel fully.

In other words, don’t be too quick to “edit” the way you are feeling or brush off your emotions. Give yourself the chance to experience every wave of each emotion fully. The only way you’ll be able to genuinely tap into those emotions for a voiceover read is if you’ve been there before. Not allowing yourself to feel will inhibit your ability to portray those emotions in a convincing way. Your audience, who you are trying to connect with on an emotional level, will be able to quickly perceive that you are faking it.

The Danger of Overthinking and Overdoing

Becoming a successful voice actor isn’t easy, but putting unnecessary extra time and energy into auditions doesn’t always result in more jobs. You need to give it your best effort and remember that a more relaxed approach sometimes leads to a more impressive performance. 

How to get voice over work by stepping back and letting things flow.

1

Don’t Over-Rehearse

Few voice artists want to record an audition cold, yet reading it through too many times can make the text sound robotic. You’ll be in your own head if you get too obsessed with getting it right, and it will show in the recording. To keep it fresh, step back from the audition text and return to it with a new frame of mind. 

2

Don’t Get Too Stuck on Punctuation

It’s important to respect the client by adhering closely to the script, but don’t get so obsessed with accuracy that you forget to bring emotion to the read. Like any actor presented with a script, you want to demonstrate your ability to bring the words to life in a way that impresses on tape.

Don’t be afraid to read a period as if it’s a semicolon or comma, especially if it flows with the character you’re choosing to create. You may surprise yourself at how allowing genuine feelings to come through has a lasting effect; always leave room for those surprises.

3

Don’t Obsess Over Client Expectations

You don’t know what the client is looking for in your read. Playing that guessing game, especially when it goes against your strengths and instincts as a performer, will not only drive you crazy — it won’t necessarily get you the job. Bring your own take to the read. After all, they wouldn’t have asked you to audition if you sounded like everyone else.

4

Don’t Record Too Many Auditions

Like any actor, you have to try out for many roles to find the best work. There are a lot of free voice acting auditions in the market. Yet to avoid reaching the point of diminishing returns, make sure you focus on the auditions that are a good match for your voice. You’ll get better results overall and you’ll make it easier to develop your personal brand as a voice artist.

5

Do Visualize the Scene

Your read is better the more you can immerse yourself into the scene. But it’s not always possible to create a recording environment that lets you fully imagine the world of your audition script. In your prep time between auditions, develop a few go-to characters that will help you enter the mindset of a particular type of read. It will save you time and give you a few more skills you can present on a moment’s notice.

6

Do Trust Your Instincts

You are a professional voice artist, so you know what makes a strong recording. You won’t know what’s in the minds of casting agents when they send out a call for auditions; therefore, use your training and instincts to bring the right emotion and intonation to your performance. Being true to your own interpretation of the script will make things even easier when you get the job.

7
how to win voiceover jobs

Do Have Fun

There’s an old saying that you should smile when you’re on the phone, because the smile will come through in your voice. The same is true with doing voice over online. If you’re not having fun, you can bet the casting agent will notice. Even a dramatic and sorrowful scene is enhanced when the actor is engaged with the text. Imagine doing cartoon voice over jobs—you need to be as animated as the character you are voicing out!

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how to win voiceover jobs

Do Let It Go

You’ve done your best and sent off the audition. Now let it go! Remember that you can’t change it now, and agonizing over your performance won’t help. Always keep moving forward — the next audition is just around the corner.

It is disconcerting to let yourself be raw for a voiceover job. But the results are so rewarding. #vo #voactor #VOtips

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Try these tips on for size, and see if you don’t see a marked improvement in the believability of your reads!

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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.

  • Tawny says:

    Yes!! This is a fantastic article that really nails it on the head. There truly is a difference between being a good performer and an amazing actor. Thank you for sharing! ?

  • Great tips on how to tap into that well-spring of emotional intelligence Carrie. Noticing is key and I really like your emphasis on not judging, or “editing” your emotions. Our first instincts/feelings are often the most true.

    • Carrie Olsen says:

      So true! We don’t have to think about “what feels most natural” when we’re playing, or in everyday conversation. We tend to complicate things when we’re behind the mic!

  • Keith says:

    Excellent advice! Since we are not seen when playing our parts, it’s crucial that our performances resonate feelings.

  • ROYAL JOINER says:

    That was great information Carrie. Glad you shared it.

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