Sometimes time is of the essence. That deadline’s fast approaching, breathing down your neck. Maybe you’ve produced that great explainer video that’s set to launch soon. Perhaps you’ve got an app that needs to have a few sections voiced. It may even be that you’re a voice actor or actress and a call comes in to do some urgent work. That’s the way things go with a quick voice over.
But speed always means that there’s a higher room for error. If things haven’t been planned thoughtfully and meticulously, that’s when mistakes tend to happen. It’s not a matter of good intentions, but of stumbling due to inadequate preparation; that’s when you know you have to be on your A-game.
This is what I’m here for, isn’t it? When in need, always count on a helping hand to avoid any production woes. I hope this guide aids you in doing your best when producing a quick voice over!
But if you prefer to watch a video instead, click here:
This post was updated in June 2021
Quick voice over: getting started
First of all, you don’t want to let nerves get the best of you. Control your jitters! There are two approaches to keep track of when handling a quick voice over. One is the hiring process, and the other is production.
Preparation is what you’ve hopefully got taken care of before going on a search. Still, it doesn’t hurt to go over the game plan before you jump into the fray!
Hiring is knowing where, when, and who to hire. Going fast may make it tempting to go with one of the million hucksters out there. Everyone is going to be proclaiming they’re what you need, and doing it loud. That means that you need to exercise good judgment to avoid making bad calls. I’ll give you some tried-and-true advice you can’t go wrong with. If you’re a voice actor, this applies to you as well — market yourself responsibly!
Producing Is when you’ve got everything in place. Things are ready to go and the record button is begging to be pushed. This is what you do for a living as a voice talent! I’ll tell you the things you can’t go without when you’re dealing with a tight schedule. Best to go over the basics and beat those nerves!
The preparation phase
You’ve heard it all a million times already; voice overs are a great way to reach your target audience. They offer immediacy, range, versatility, flexibility, and the human touch. There’s also a wealth of scientific evidence on audiovisual cues for learning. Trust me, you’re going to want to voice your videos. You don’t want things to read like a WhatsApp conversation; you want some actual oomph!
Hopefully, after you’ve been convinced to find voice talent and pumped yourself up, you’ll be ready to move on.
Next is writing a script. This is when you’re going to need to apply every bit of marketing know-how at your disposal. You’ll need to leverage your brand’s or product’s strengths and personality for the audience you’ve got in mind. If only you had a thorough guide at your disposal! Oh, wait. You do. Then try to take that advice to heart, because you don’t want to be doing last-minute script changes! I’ve been there, and it’s about as pretty as a root canal.
The other reason why you’re going to want to avoid that is passing that anxiety to the voice talent. The objective is for things to be ready and efficient when the script reaches their hands. The golden ideal? A clear-cut, concise, well-defined script with no confusing spots. That means that when you’re providing direction for the voice talent, they’re an extension of that clarity.
Knowing what you want means yelling “Stop!” when you get the desired results. The reverse is also sadly true. I’ve seen a million quick voice overs being redone because clients didn’t know what they wanted. They just gave a vague, noncommittal direction that just didn’t seem to go anywhere.
“Slower… like… more serious!”
“Deeper! But not that deep!
“Try to sound formal!”
Don’t let this be you!
Hiring for a quick voice over
All right! This is going to be where the pedal really meets the metal. You’re ready, you have a script, and you have the correct mindset. You know what type of voice will convey your ideas most accurately. (If you don’t, try this guide and this one on for size.)
Now it’s a matter of finding that person in reality. Much like finding a romantic match in an app, everything’s easier if you know what you want. It’ll be love at first listen, and you’ll happily ride off into the voiceover sunset!
You have a few ways to make this happen:
Castings are pretty much going to go out the window. Depending on how much of a short notice you have, and how much exposure, this isn’t ideal. Mostly, because unless you’ve got a lot of resources at your behest, you don’t want talent coming to you. That’ll mean trudging through a vast pool of submissions that may not even match what you were looking for. If things are extremely time-sensitive, chances are you won’t make the deadline.
When looking for a quick voice over, you’re likely going to be committing to a search. That means one of two ways, both of which have their pros and cons and may get you exactly what you’re looking for.
1. Freelancing platforms
These places are all the rageare all the rage. In these freelancing platforms, people of every skill level and profession ply their trades. The pros? An accessible, varied, vast pool of talent. Lots of proven professionals have a profile on these platforms, and work is ever in demand. If you refine your searches, you’ll find pros with extensive portfolios whom you can engage with personally. Expect higher rates when asking for quick work, though, as it’s only fair. Most will be flexible and open to discussing deals.
The cons? It’s practically in the opening paragraph to this section. People of every skill level will be joining the hustle. How do you know they’ve got the professionalism and experience to fulfill your needs in a short time? You may be tempted to go with someone who cannot accurately portray their skills in a portfolio. Or maybe someone that’s really good at promoting themselves, but not so much at delivering the goods.
Especially when dealing with the hurry of a last-minute voiceover, you may be tempted to take a chance. If you’re dealing with a shoestring budget, you’ll be sorely tempted. Who knows? You may be lucky and strike gold, it’s not the first time it’s happened!
But, let’s be realistic for a second. It takes time to find what you need. These platforms aren’t exactly geared toward the voiceover market — not specifically. That means that the clock is ticking down, and you’re looking for the one. As time winds down, all of those people clamoring for your attention start to seem more attractive.
Don’t do this. You don’t want to rely on luck if the chips are down. Better to try out the approach below.
2. Voice-specific marketplaces
Duh! If the shoe fits, etc. You want to minimize the pain — and especially the time — it takes to find that special voice. Then it’s always a good idea to visit the shoe store when you want a pair of Nikes, right? It’s only common sense!
The main pro of voice-specific online marketplaces is going to be convenience. Voices are organized by age, gender, accent, language, and maybe even more! That means that if you’ve done your due diligence in the previous steps, you’re already a few clicks away from success. There, it’s just a matter of whittling down the options until you find that elusive “it.”
You’ll find that rates are generally pretty friendly too. It’s always better than reaching out to individual voice pros who work outside these systems. Rates are bound to be lower, but competitive and fair. It’s also a given that clients are going to want a fast turnaround. What does that mean? That, in effect, you’ll be getting a quick voice-over by people who are required to deliver one, every time.
Yes, you read correctly. These platforms offer curated content, so pros are already used to dealing with tight schedules. As a matter of course, a turnaround of just a few hours is common. When dealing with bookings, things can go even quicker for a small extra cost.
What do I recommend? You can find a ton of agencies and voice outsourcing platforms out there. But the top one is definitely Bunny Studio, no doubt about it.
Generally, you’re looking for established platforms with proven talent. When both of those things are in place, they’ll take you out of a bind!
Producing a quick voice over
If everything else in place, then it’s pretty much a matter of recording. If everything’s not, then both the client and Pro may be starting their worst nightmare. Ideally, even if most platforms and Pros will allow as many revisions as necessary, you won’t want to leave planning for this stage. Have your script, idea, voice, and actor ready.
If you’re on the acting side, good news! You’ve got a pretty, pretty good client who knows their stuff and did their homework for you! Now you just need to set up according to this guide and this one, and you can’t go wrong! Of course, you’re already a Pro and are ready to get going, but just refresh these basics:
- Have your gear in place and ready.
- Your recording space must be immaculate and free of extraneous noises.
- Check that your recording software is on-point and your hardware is running smoothly. This is not the time for technical hiccups!
- Control your nerves! If time is of the essence, you’ll know that every performance counts. Warm-up. Do breathing exercises.
- Record as always. Ease into your performance. Use the guidelines. Ask the client if they are not 100% clear. Avoid redos. It’s best to ask more than to miss the client’s deadline. They’re asking you to be speedy for a reason.
- Turn out completed, edited work. They got you because you’re the best. Act like it!
A quick voice over is doable with the tools at your disposal. You don’t have to wonder about blindly while you expect the best. Voice marketplaces and a surplus of prepared, honest professionals are there to help you out with your quick voice over. Just prepare correctly, know what you want, and they’ll do the rest!