I receive and listen to a lot of demos. I think the quality of demos and the voices behind them seems to improve every year. That said, there are still some things I’m hearing on demos that really shouldn’t be there. Allow me to present…
THE TOP 5 THINGS YOU SHOULD LEAVE OFF YOUR VOICE DEMO
1. Anything you CAN’T replicate quickly in a real recording session. If it takes you an hour and a half to work up to doing a Barry White type read, leave it off of the demo. If that super fast read about the department store took many takes and many edits and in real life, you would stumble through such a script every five seconds, perhaps it isn’t your strength and it should be on the demo cutting room floor.
2. The bad accents. Having run Ethnic Voice Talent for over a decade now, I can credibly tell you that virtually no client is looking for someone to put on an accent anymore. There are plenty of foreign language talents who also record in English and can deliver an authentic accent for whatever project requires it. So to the white guys who think their Indian accent is alternately hilarious and bang on, stop it now. Get it off the demo.
3. Anything that mentions a specific year. That spot on your demo advertising “the new 2005 Nissan” is a sure fire way to make a client question whether you have voiced anything in the last 10 years or whether your voice still sounds the same. Plus, for those of us too lazy to update our demos every year, if you get rid of anything with a date, it gives your demo many more years of shelf life!
4. Any commercial that has another talent’s voice on it for longer than yours. Dialogue spots are great but only if your voice is the main one in the dialogue. Clients have short attention spans and busy schedules. They don’t want to hear someone else’s voice dominating your demo. Also, watch out for spots where it isn’t obvious which voice is yours. I have gotten a number of demos over the years that have a dialogue between, say, two women who sound sort of the same and are about the same age. Don’t make it a guessing game as to which voice is yours.
5. Your radio air check. Naturally, thousands of people on-air in radio also do freelance voice work but we want to hear commercials and narration, not two minutes from your morning show. If you are the voice of the radio station, by all means include a clip of an imaging promo but otherwise, what happens in the voice over world is different than an on-air DJ shift or newscast.
I will keep an eye on the comments section and tweet out other suggestions on the topic of what should be left off a voice demo. Will also take this discussion up on Twitter so…
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