It’s clear that to create an engaging corporate or e-learning video, the right combination of entertainment and educational content must get your message across. Yet the difference between a good video and a great one can rest on one person alone – the narrator. Having the right voice-over narrator is much different than casting for on-camera talent. It can truly make or break a viewer’s experience and contribute to a better translation of the message.

How do you find the right voice for your video?  

Hiring a creative in any industry can be daunting, especially if you are searching for someone on a contract or freelance basis. One of the most difficult parts can be differentiating between an amateur and a professional. The voice acting industry poses some specific challenges, especially because it’s an entrepreneurial-based business that may come without a union or agents to help source the right talent. Many jobs require a very specialized talent where corporate lingo or complicated topics need to be portrayed in an easy-to-digest way. 

So, what do you do when a voice actor contacts you about a potential job? How do you know if they are legitimate? This article aims to answer those questions as well as share the best resources to source vetted talent. 

What are some common signs that someone is a professional? 

Unlike screen or theater actors, voice actors only have their voice to rely on to create expression and emotion. There are no facial expressions, gestures, or props for voice actors. The most common signs that someone has professional voice acting experience can be summed up in the following points:: 

  • A professional voice actor shouldn’t sound like they are reading directly off the script. A good voice actor should have more of a conversational tone, with the actor delivering the message directly to the listener. 
  • The audio quality should be impeccable – there shouldn’t be any background noise like fans or a dog barking in the distance, and there should be no echo or room reflection. 
  • A professional voice actor’s business communication should be very professional. For example, an invoice should be sent immediately after a job is completed, the individual(s) should be easily reachable and fast to respond via phone or email, and they shouldn’t have a lot of questions about what format to submit their assignment in.  
  • They have a very professional and easy-to-navigate website with a demo and rate sheet available. 

Finding a professional that has years of experience and the right education can be very difficult. Instead of using a pay-to-play talent website, browse a list of professionally vetted talent on sites like VoiceOver.biz, which is backed by the only international non-profit association for voice actors, World Voices. 

What types of questions do professional voice actors ask about the job? 

If a voice actor has contacted you about upcoming projects or you’ve found a talent source you believe is a good fit, the questions the talent asks can be very telling 

  • How long is the project? 
  • What is the subject matter, and who is the audience? 
  • What is the message you are trying to get across?
  • What is your budget?  
  • What format do you want it in?  
  • What tone are you looking for?  

What is important to look for in a voiceover talent’s portfolio or demo? 

Looking at a potential hire’s website and demo before even conducting an interview or having them read a script can quickly reveal their level of professionalism and experience. Any professional voice actor should have a well-organized website that provides important information about them, a demo available to listen to or download, and a contact page. But how exactly should a well-seasoned voice actor sound?  

  • A professional actor should sound conversational; a tell-tale sign of a newbie is often a manufactured, radio-style/broadcast voice. 
  • A professional may have specific demos per vertical, so you can get a feel for how they sound based on several different genres. 
  • They should be able to show a knowledge of the subject matter and/or product. 
  • They should have cultural literacy and the correct tone.  
  • It should also be easy to tell through their demo if they have a real home studio; the audio quality should be excellent.  

How can you tell if a voiceover talent has professional equipment? What can give away that it’s amateur equipment?  

A professional should have a good signal-to-noise ratio – the signal being their voice, and noise is everything else. Having them read the script can be an easy way to tell if someone has a good recording space and equipment; it shouldn’t sound like they’re in a box, closet, or small space. 

Make sure you have your candidate read a portion of the script; this should give you an idea of their experience, equipment, and how well they take direction. A professional will likely offer a couple of different takes on interpreting the script so you can see what might match best. 

What is the going rate for a professional voiceover talent versus an amateur? 

Determining the right pricing for a project can be another challenge. The Global Voice Acting Academy provides a rate guide solely as an informational and educational resource for the voice-over community, talent seekers, and producers to use to determine acceptable rates. The guide provides guidelines based on the number of listeners/viewers, regional versus national versus hyperlocal, broadcast sector, etc. 

A professional will charge a competitive rate; the more experienced they are, the more expensive they are. A higher fee will often signify they are using professional equipment, which can be an expensive investment. An amateur is a bottom feeder; if you think you’re getting a deal, it’s probably because they aren’t professional and will likely result in a disappointing outcome.  

Following the above guidelines will allow you to make the right decision as you search for the perfect voiceover talent! Bottle Rocket Media specializes in casting, video production servicesmotion graphics services, and video event production services. Connect with our team to create a brand story that is entirely your own and makes an impact.

Written By Dan Lenard, President, World Voices Organization