Voice Over Misconceptions

One person says, "Great voice! You could make a fortune in radio!"
The next says, "Don't bother, they hire the same 3 people over and over."

Things like this make it confusing for aspiring voice over artists. We will clarify this.

Since voice over is a relatively new industry, and since it's gone through major transitions in it's short life, there are many schools of thought. Each "expert" preaches a different theory. The problem is that many "experts" speak from their own perspective, as opposed to considering all possibilities. This causes them to contradict one another. So anytime someone tells you "exactly how it is" they are not necessarily correct, as there is a time and place for everything.

Energy Level

One voice over book says, "When reading children's stories, use high energy."
Yet another book says, "When reading children's stories, use low energy."

The correct way to narrate the story is to use the appropriate delivery based upon the intent of the story.

For example,

  • If the children's story are bedtime stories, intended to help children fall asleep, low energy is appropriate.
  • If the story is to keep children entertained, high energy is appropriate.
  • If the story is intended to help children learn to read (as in a picture-book),
    a medium tempo is appropriate.
  • If the story is to help foreign children learn English, a highly articulate delivery is appropriate.

Cost Of Your Demo

Here's a confusing one.

One voice over school charges $100 to produce a demo when another charges $1,000.

Plus the cheaper one has lots of experience as they've made many demos.

Well here are the facts:

  • Cheaper studios have lots of experience ONLY because everyone goes there because they are cheap.
  • Most every casting director will agree that most of these demos are unmarketable and get thrown out.
  • Since digital recording studios are inexpensive these days, anyone can do it …even those who do not know the voice over industry and/or do not have trained ears.

When shopping for a demo-producer, ask to review demos they have produced, learn if they take time with you, and ask if they cover every component of 'complete training' (as listed above).

If they don't, instead of saving money, you'll waste it.

Acting Lessons

Some people believe that acting lessons are invaluable when training for voice over.

Some believe that they are damaging, and suggest you avoid them.

The answer depends upon the style of voice over you are training for and the type of acting lessons you consider.

Here are some examples:

  • Most voice over delivery requires a natural style, and therefore film acting lessons may be helpful as they generally teach a natural style. Conversely, stage acting (where you may be taught to project) may be detrimental.
  • If you desire character and animation work, consider improv and comedic classes as they generally teach you how to "open up," be creative, and be loose. If you are considering acting lessons, ask the instructor if they are familiar with the type of voice over you are interested in, and if they believe their class would be beneficial or detrimental.

How Long Does It Take?

Many aspiring voice-talent are anxious to "hit the street." Therefore, many voice over schools take advantage of this and rush you through the training process without 'complete training'.

Bypassing certain steps allows you to get the demo faster. But at what price?

Without proper training, there's a strong likelihood that you'll receive less work. Do not fall into the 'get a demo quick and hit the casting directors' mentality.

Instead use a training facility that

  • will candidly evaluate your talent.
  • help you determine which genres your voice is most marketable for.
  • offer time to study those genres
  • train you.
  • help establish a marketing plan specifically for those genres.


You may have heard a struggling voice over artist say, "Don't bother…I've been trying this for a year and haven't gotten any work yet!"

We meet these people everyday and immediately know why this is the case.

While they believe it's that three people get all the work, we feel otherwise.

Most unsuccessful, aspiring voice over artists do a number of things wrong, including marketing only a commercial demo, with an announcer style delivery, and with horrible marketing tactics.

Of course they don't get work. Obviously, if you treat this like a business and train and market correctly, you greatly increase your chance of obtaining work.

Commercial? Narration?

Many voice over schools suggest to "Make a commercial demo."

That is fine.

However you should also consider a narration demo since narrations are approximately 95% of the industry (i.e.: audiobook, documentary, training video, website narration, cartoon animation, educational film, telephone system, corporate presentation, etc.).

CDs or MP3s

One casting director claims that everyone wants demos on CD with full color headshots.

The next claims that everyone prefers MP3 files emailed to them without headshots.

The truth is that every casting director prefers something different.

Therefore, to get the most work, never assume what a casting director wants and instead ask.

Announcer Style vs Natural Style

"Use the strong, announcer, broadcast style voice" says one expert.

But that seems confusing since most voice overs you hear are natural and conversational.

The answer?

Unless the expert is specifically talking about promos and local/broadcast style commercials, chances are good that they prefer a natural style.

This is because most voice overs, other than promos and hard-sell style commercials, use a natural and conversational style vocal delivery. In fact, the announcer style voice is being used less and less every year.

It is estimated that 95% of scripts are delivered using a natural style voice...not an 'announcerish' one.

Rate Of Pay

$2,000 to record one radio commercial is fantastic. And many voice over schools "tempt" you into training with them by reminding you of such numbers.

However few newcomers receive enough high-paying jobs to equal their annual income.

Therefore we suggest to be realistic… begin part-time and quit your day-job when you have sufficient clientele. Or choose to keep voice over as a supplement to your day-job's income.

How To Read

Contrary to popular belief, commercial and narration scripts are read the same way.

The assumption that commercials are fast and narrations are slow is incorrect.

For example,

  • Some commercials are fast (car dealerships) and some are slow (financial industries, jewelry ads).
  • Some narrations need acting and some don't…. some commercials need acting and some don't.
  • Some narrations are fast (travelogues, children stories) and some are slow (training films, telephone automation systems).
  • Some commercials sell (retail sales) while others inform (public service announcements, etc).
  • Some narrations sell (infomercial, trade-show exhibits, etc) while others inform (how-to-videos, self-help, etc).

Microphone Choice

All too often, I'm asked the same question, "What microphone should I get?" Equally as often, I read advice from "so called" experts who recommend a certain microphone.

Grrrrrrr that's frustrating!


  • What kind of voice over do you record?
    • Some types, like telephony need mics that produce a clean, clear, bright output.
    • Yet promos need a big, full, sometimes fat sound.
    • Do it all? Get a mic that works across the board.
  • How are the acoustics of your recording booth?
    • A reverberant room needs a directional mic.
    • A dry room may sound better with an "open" mic.
  • How sound-proofed is your recording booth?
    • It's not? Consider a directional mic – maybe even a super or hyper cardiod.
    • It is? An "open" mic may sound best.
  • What about you?
    • Have a big, full voice? Get a mic that captures that low-end. Maybe a tube.
    • Have a thin voice? Don't get a tube.
  • Lastly, the question you can NOT answer until you experiment: How does the mic react to your voice?
    • Every mic reacts differently to different voices… so try a few. And listen carefully.
    • Not sure what to listen for? Ask someone who engineers the kind of voice over that you narrate.

Overall, do NOT choose a microphone because it's a good price, because someone suggests it, or because it looks cool. Want to make more money at voice over? Then get a mic that makes you sound the best! We're glad to help you determine which mic it is.

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Call us 888-321-3343
Email us training@edgestudio.com

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