A visual artist has a portfolio showcasing her work. A writer can offer samples of his work, as well. A dancer or actor probably has video to share. A voice over actor should have the same ability to offer a sample of his talent, and that comes in a voice over demo. A voice over demo showcases who the actor is and what he or she does best. This is the perfect piece that anyone wishing to hire a voice actor can preview. And any good voice actor should have one available.

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This post has been updated in August 2021.

What Exactly is a Voice Over Demo and Why Should a Voice Actor Have One?

You wouldn’t hire a builder without seeing some of their work first or a baker for your wedding without tasting the cake. So you shouldn’t hire a voice actor without hearing a sample of their work. A voice over demo is a professional, short piece showcasing the actor’s best voice work. A reputable voice actor should definitely have a voice over demo and a professional should help out with it. It’s an investment that a voice actor should make, just like an actor has a headshot. It’s the first impression of the voice actor and needs to be sharp. A bad headshot of a film actor wouldn’t get them hired, so a voice actor’s voice over demo should be top-notch quality, too.

Usually, a voice over demo runs around a minute long. It can be a few seconds above or below, but not much. It should include the actor’s best work and highlight their specialty. For some it may consist of commercial work, for others, it could be narration, audiobooks, or corporate work. In addition, some voice actors like to include a variety of their work, but a good demo will still be short and succinct.
Having a professional voice over demo can make the difference in getting hired or not. According to Melanie Hayes, this is the selling tool of voice actors, and professional sound engineers have the experience and valuable guidance to help. It’s a good idea when a professional helps in the creation of the demo so it has the best quality and sound possible. After all, the better the voice over demo, the better the chances of getting hired.

Are There Different Types of Demos?

Yes, there are different types of voice over demos. Because these demos showcase the voice actor’s skills and interests, many actors will create their demo in their field of interest. While some demos may have a few types of voice genres, others will showcase the one type that the actor is most skilled in. The great thing about a demo is that the actor can personalize it to show his talents off in the best way.

voice over demo for voice actors

Commercial Demo – According to EdgeStudio, this is the most popular type of demo. Commercials hold a certain glamour, and for many voice actors, voicing a commercial is a professional goal. However, only about 10% of voice over work is in commercials. Some of the different commercials are conversational, hard-sell, nonchalant, promo, and public service announcements. So a commercial demo can focus on one of these types or have a few different samplings.
Narration Demo – Whereas commercials are about 10% of the work in this industry, according to the same article, narrations take up much of the rest of the work. For those actors looking to work full time, it is almost essential to have a narration demo. This covers a wide variety of opportunities, including voice overs in corporate training videos, telephony, documentaries, voicemail, website narration, and educational films.
Specialty Demo – Some voice actors also like to have a specialty demo in addition to a commercial or narration demo. It’s a good idea if they have skills or experience in a niche. This could be in a certain genre, like a nature documentary or a children’s animation voice over. It could also be something like an audiobook, video game, or promo voice over. These can be very helpful for the niche actors, but it’s also a good idea to have a general voice over demo as well.
Many experts recommend a combination of demos. It’s important to have narration and commercial demos, as that is where most of the work is. But if an actor has experience in a specialty, that voice over demo will be important to look at as well. Multiple demos can show versatility and experience.

Elements of a Demo for a Voice Actor

Stagemilk shares some great tips on what makes a great voice demo. Whether you are creating a demo or checking demos for the perfect talent, there are certain things a great demo should include. Let’s take a look.
A Commercial demo – Because this is the most common form of voice over work, it’s important to have a sample. It can showcase the actor’s talent in a nutshell. This is especially important for actors just starting out.
Simplicity – The demo should be clean and simple. Around a minute in length is good. With a few samples, the actor’s talent can shine without getting cluttered. Straightforward scripts are a good idea.
Originality – Voice over demos should be original. They shouldn’t have other actor’s scripts. Not only is it unethical to steal someone else’s scripts, but it won’t stand out. A good demo should have a unique sound to make the actor noticeable.
Start with the strongest work – A few snippets should be on the demo, and the best one should be first. Though this may seem obvious, it’s not always the case.
This demo is the key to getting work. The stronger it is, the more appealing it can be to agencies and those looking to hire voice actors. A sloppy, cluttered, unprofessional demo is like going to an interview in dirty clothes. The demo should showcase professionalism, talent, and versatility.

Voice Over Demo Don’ts

One of the most important things when it comes to a voice over demo is cleanliness. That means a quiet background that does not distract from the voice. No dogs barking, trucks honking, or bracelets jangling should be in the background. If you hear this in a voice demo then you may want to question the actor’s professionalism.
Professionalism is huge in voice acting. The article, Say No to Bad Voice Acting, shares this. Whether it’s a messy demo, poor enunciation, or showing up late, this is a big no. You can get a good vibe of professionalism from a voice over demo.
Another don’t on a voice over demo is overacting. The same article shares the harm in overacting. If an actor is overacting on a voice over demo, this comes across as unnatural or forced. It won’t translate well and the audience will not connect.
If you hear a poorly done demo with background noise or less than stellar acting, keep looking. A demo should be the precipice of voice acting. An actor should take the time to make it perfect before sharing it.

The Importance of a Voice Over Demo

The right voice actor can make or break your production piece. When you are looking for that right voice, a demo can be a big help. Sometimes you know exactly what you want. You know the gender, the age, the pitch and tone, and the dialect of the voice that you want. With a voice over demo, you can quickly hear the sample and give it a yes or a no. Other times you may not be quite sure what you are looking for. By listening to a variety of demos, you can sample and understand how a voice will portray your work.

voice over demo how to show your voice

It is a good idea to know as much about your project as possible before looking, though. Even if you don’t know exactly what you do want, try to figure out what you don’t want. You can weed out plenty of demos this way. It’s also not just the voice you need to find, but an actor who can handle the duration of your project or any other demands.
This article shares some good tips about hiring a voice actor. One thing you can do is close your eyes when listening to the demo and think about how the voice will fit your project. Consider these attributes of a voice:

  • smooth and soothing
  • low and sultry
  • energetic and engaging
  • intelligent and distinguished
  • laid back and relaxed
  • old or young
  • clear or raspy
  • accented or fairly standard for your region?

The demo should showcase the voice enough for you to get a feel for it. By closing your eyes, you will hear what your listeners will, and you can seek the qualities to fit your piece.
Additionally, as mentioned, an actor’s demo is the first impression. You may be able to get a sense of professionalism from a demo. That is also a very important piece of voice work. Once you hear a voice over demo that you think will fit, then you can have the actor do a more specific audition. It’s not always necessary to meet face to face; voice work is often done remotely. But again, the demo can speak a bit to professionalism.

The Take-Away

Voice is the star of your production. It can lead to the success of your piece. While there may be more than one right voice, you want to make sure you choose the best one. Finding the right voice actor can sometimes be a challenge. If you have a particular voice in mind or you aren’t quite sure what you want, listening to voice over demos can be a big help. A voice over demo should showcase the actor’s voice, genre, and specializations. You should be able to get a feel for the actor’s professionalism from the demo as well. Whether you choose to go with a freelance actor or through a voice over agency like BunnyStudio Voice, find the talent you want to create a successful production.

Find the perfect voice today with Bunny Studio!