I was reading an article on demo planning for the beginner voice actor, and I thought I would share it here along with some of my own thoughts on the demo process. For more tips you can go to the archives right here in the voiceover blog under how to make a great demo. Your voice over demo or demos can be a very expensive but also very fruitful project. Taking care to make the proper first steps with a professional is key. No, this is not where I plug myself. Today is all about giving you information, period. So, the steps….you’ve probably heard them before a million times. The reason I am repeating them is that upon review of the above article link, I noticed that while providing some valuable information, they did not give you the complete soup to nuts picture. There were a few ingredients missing, and we will review them now.
The most important thing to consider while planning your demo is not the type of demo you will do (commercial, narration, animation, etc) but whether you should DO a demo at all. Yup, you’re not going to hear that one from many of the companies out there who produce voiceover demos….it’d be a crummy sales technique. I produce demos myself. I’m a crummy salesman. But a great adviser. So, listen. Your best bet for figuring out whether this type of time and money investment is worth pursuing is to get the opinion of someone who is NOT invested in making money in any way from your demo. Even voiceover coaches who do not produce demos can be difficult to trust because they might say you are not ready simply to continue making money from training you. This could be happening subconsciously on their part – people don’t want to disappoint, and telling you to “give up” could be just downright impossible for some of them. It’s very hard for me to do as well, but my general rule of integrity to keep me in check is the 6-session rule: If I see no to little improvement after 6 sessions (one-hour each) I cut the cord. It’s hard and it hurts me and the student, but time and money are valuable commodities that shouldn’t be wasted.
OK, moving on. Let’s say you have gotten the go-ahead for demo-making from a trusted source. This is where the first page of the article on demo planning is helpful. The voiceover universe has truly exploded thanks to the internet, and there are now dozens of voice over genres to choose from: medical narration, animation, video games, documentary, commercial, e-learning/educational/explainer, promos, movie trailers, corporate narration or industrial, audio books, ok I’m tired. This demo-planning page goes into some detail about some of the more common areas and what they entail. To add to the strategy, consider whether your goal is to make money, or to have fun. Perhaps you can do both, but first consider this: corporate narration is more plentiful in terms of audition opportunities, but animation is more fun, and yes, more competitive. Be truthful with yourself and see what will work best for you with those things in mind. If you really are unsure, start out in an area that combines what you do really well with the more available work, build up your career first, and then begin to layer in those other voiceover genres that you are more passionate about from your safe and cozy nest (egg.)