What does a voice-over require from a client?
So, you’ve potentially hired a voice-over to promote/inform people about your product or service. You have also probably discussed and agreed a price, talked about a deadline and have an idea as to how you want the v/o to sound when they’re voicing your script. Now, you need a decent script!
If you don’t have the necessary skills to write a good script containing the correct number of words to fit the duration of the radio or TV commercial, promotional film, narrative, on-hold message and so forth, you might consider engaging a third party or an agency to provide these and other services on your behalf, or perhaps simply an experienced scriptwriter. Either way, they’ll need to be thoroughly briefed so they can write the text in a way which conveys the exact message you want to get across. And it’s not just the content of the script, but also the actual way the script is laid out in terms of font size and spacing, whether words or phrases need extra emphasis (in which case you might underline, bold or italicise them), and the format in general.
Voice-over artists work best (and appreciate it) when presented with a well written and equally well laid out script, often accompanied by instructions and a brief, as well as links to online samples of recordings which might help give the v/o an idea as to the client’s needs regarding tone, pace, gravitas and the overall ‘feel’. This doesn’t necessarily mean the voice-over should be required to replicate the vocal-samples provided, but you might want the artist to capture some of the subtleties or nuances of a certain style of ‘read’.
How does a client know to book the ‘right voice’ for the job?
In most cases, a client will select more than one voice-artist for their project after having listened to a number of demos, samples and showreels from v/o’s who are readily sourced via the web, ultimately drawing up a shortlist. In some instances, a voice-over might offer to record a brief “demo/sample” (literally, a few lines or maybe a sentence or two) from a draft of the script which needs to be voiced. They may charge a small fee for this service, and that’s usually discussed and decided between the v/o and the client, as is the overall cost of the job. This is an accurate and positive way to ensure the right voice-over is being booked.
There are a number of useful websites you can search to find out just how to write and lay out a decent script, with information regarding important requirements such as correct word-count in relation to what you’re wanting to write, spelling, pronunciation, punctuation etc. However, if script writing is not something you would want to attempt yourself, there are also sites where freelance scriptwriters can be recruited to do the job for you, given an accurate brief, in either short or long form.
As mentioned, there are agencies available online through which you can book a voice-over artist directly. Some may be able to assist with recommendations for script writing, but mostly, they’re a good source to help find a voice-over if you want to liaise on a one-to-one basis via the agency. You’ll find plenty to choose from and many samples to listen to, helping you find the perfect voice to promote your product or service.
Some voice-over artists may only be listed with a small number of online agencies, if at all, as many of them have their own professional recording facilities in their own homes, or they perform voice-work out of leased premises or are booked through ‘traditional’ studios. Most will liaise directly with the client, offering services which may include, but are not limited to, script writing and related tasks, at a fee to be agreed directly.
The starting point…
Whatever you’re looking for from a voice-over artist, you’ll first need to have the fundamentals of a good brief and/or description of what you’re trying to achieve in order to promote your product or service, or to impart to people on various platforms and through a variety of mediums. It is imperative to have a decently written script of the correct duration for the project which is informative, entertaining (if being used in the commercial sense), enlightening (if it’s intended to make people think) and to the point, depending on the subject matter.
Greg Marston is a professional voice-over artist with more than 30 years extensive experience in voicing, script-writing, recording, editing and proofing. His diverse range can be heard via his website – www.gregmarston.net – and he is available for long or short form radio and TV commercials, narrations, documentaries, e-learning modules, explainers, announcements, promos, liners, idents, presentations, telephone on-hold messaging and IVR’s, ‘voice-of-god’, movie-trailer and any number of assorted v/o styles.