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5 Ways to Spot a VO Newbie

April 9, 2010

I’ve been in the business for a while, so it usually takes me a couple of seconds to determine if a “Voice Over Artist” really has experience in the field or not.  The below list was put together so voice over actors AND clients can avoid them.  Most new people in the business will display these traits or do these things (unbeknownst to them):

Lack of Vocal Technique
Breathing is natural, however – you can tell when an amateur hasn’t mastered the silent breath.  Our recording equipment is soooo sensitive, it picks up every little sound in the room.  & in addition to noticeable breaths, there are many other annoying sounds that can come from our mouths (lip smacks, clicks, etc.) that don’t belong in a commercial. Certain letters like S & P can stand out like a sore thumb on a recording too if you’re on top of the mic or don’t enunciate them the proper way.

 Sloppy Articulation
Interestingly enough, some artists can be lazy when it comes to speaking.  The delivery of words will lack precision & even more so when the pace is kicked up a couple of notches. Occasionally, newbies can go in the other direction & over-articulate particular words, which results in an unnatural & contrived sound.  A professional will find out how to naturally pronounce difficult words.  Check out Forvo, as they are now the largest pronunciation guide in the world:

Recording Quality
Quality is of utmost concern in the voice over business.  Using a home studio can be very convenient & much cheaper for a talent to use, however – beware!  The volume may be too low or high, certain words will be distorted, or background noise can be heard.   This will alert the client that the recording was not completed in a devoted, sound-proof space.  There can also be hissing & humming in the track, which indicates a problem with the technical equipment.

Cheap Rates
This is a red flag.  Know the business – charge accordingly.

& finally . . .

Dislike of Criticism & No Flexibility
A pro voice over artist welcomes & makes changes fast for the client without fussing.  An amateur may be afraid of criticism, might not be flexible & will need quite a bit of hand-holding.  A person in the business a while can be coached.  A newbie might be able to take direction, but because of their lack of experience – coaching turns into training.  & that’s just not fair to the client.

So, overall — you may save some funds with all of the fresh voices out there, but remember — you will most definitely lose some of your precious time with these folks.  Make it easy on yourself . . . hire a professional that knows the business!

Rose Caiazzo of Rose Consulting, LLC
The Art of Voice. The Power of Social Media.

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