Tips for Working with Voiceover Talent

Hey Gang! I'm working on a post about working with voiceover talent for e-learning. I know a lot of us record our own audio, but for those of you who have worked with professional voiceover talent, what tips can you share? Are these things you've learned that make it easier to work with voiceover talent? What things has your voiceover talent asked of you to make their lives easier? 

If you have any tips to share, please comment below!

14 Replies
Rachel Barnum

I typically create a separated voice over script (separate from the storyboard) that I first send to the client (if one) and request them to comment on any specialized pronunciations. I'll also add in some comments that have to do with how something is said, or putting specific enthusiasm on certain words, etc. I'll leave some notes on overall tone (casual, formal, conversational) at the top.

Typically the script will be a table, with the left side of the table containing the file names (corresponding with slides), and the right side being the script. 

Matthew Guyan

Hi Tim,

We generally use voiceover talent for our clients and a couple of things that I've learned are:

Make sure the voiceover person is clear on any words that could be pronounced incorrectly. When I worked for another organisation, the ID would go along to the recording so could address any pronunciations but now we send the script away, so we write words phonetically that may cause an issue.

Another is to have a read over - out loud - of the script to make sure it sounds ok when spoken. One time I was in a rush and didn't check properly and the voiceover person read what was on the script even thought there was a word that was out of place.

Melissa Rubbe
Matthew Guyan

Hi Tim,

We generally use voiceover talent for our clients and a couple of things that I've learned are:

Make sure the voiceover person is clear on any words that could be pronounced incorrectly. When I worked for another organisation, the ID would go along to the recording so could address any pronunciations but now we send the script away, so we write words phonetically that may cause an issue.

Another is to have a read over - out loud - of the script to make sure it sounds ok when spoken. One time I was in a rush and didn't check properly and the voiceover person read what was on the script even thought there was a word that was out of place.

 

I read your tips and found very informative ,I would be grateful to you if you write some essential things which are our need in beginning..

100HomeRemedies.com

Katie Evans

Great post!

Here are some of my tips that I've found working with voiceover narrators:

  • I like to insert <pause> if I want the narrator to pause in between sentences or paragraphs.
  • Like Rachel, I like to send a separate script to the client before sending it to the narrator so they can weigh in on verbiage and pronunciation
  • Reminding the narrator to have a conversational tone and not reading from a script 
  • If do-overs are needed, asking the narrator to listen to the first batch of clips and mimicking the tone, style and volume as best as he/she can

I can't wait to learn from others!

 

Maree Eilman

I have a great voiceover talent that I'm trying to find work for. Can anyone tell me how someone would break into this industry? This person is extremely talented and would do wonders in the market place but doesn't know how to or where to begin. Any advice? English speaking, clear, concise, pronounces every word clearly and confidently. Attached is a sample of her voice.

Daniel Brigham

Hey, Tim:

A couple of things that help VOs out:

1. Have a clear template for your script so VO knows what that heck the copy is about (include slide title) and where the slide ends.

2. Don't be afraid to give performance indications, usually these are given as emotions--"please read this section as if very concerned..." VOs dig that, as they are generally not inspired by the mostly "industrial" copy we ask them to voice. 

3. Nail down delivery dates in the contract. "Finalized script will delivered X date and VO files will be delivered by X date."

4. Let VO know what file format and quality settings (sample rate, sample format) you prefer.

5. Do your best NOT to change a script once you've sent it. If you do make changes, know that you will be charged extra, because most likely the VO has already started recording.

6. Do both parties a favor and have a contract: In mine, at minimum, I include who is responsible for what (Geddy Lee will write and format finalized script, Daniel Brigham to record, edit, and publish files), what my deliverables are (Daniel Brigham will record approx. 50 .wav audio files based on a script of 5000 words), and what items are out of scope --  recording more than 50 audio files based on a script of 5000 words, etc.

The biggest risk on both sides is the script changing. Happens a lot, often when the VO has recorded large whacks of it. Ok, back to work, man. 

Enes Karahasanovic

I would agree with everything above mentioned. I can only add one advice - I ask VO to record text paragraphs in separate audio files, even though they may be on the same slide. Sometimes I like to make pause between two sentences/paragraphs in order to show a picture/animation/etc., and it is easier to handle if you have separate audio files.

David Gilbert

Hello Enes,

I hear what you're saying, but if a professional VO is used who is cognisant of your needs and the direction is provided to add a specific length of pause between paragraphs on the same slide a separate file should not be necessary as it could drive up the cost of the project and complexity having an exponential larger qty of finished files versus one file per slide.

Enes Karahasanovic

Hi David, in my case I only require recording in separate files. No narrative effort is required from VO other than to record the narration text. In your logic that means VO would charge extra only because of having more separate audio files....it doesn't sound right, at least in my case I didn't experience such a thing. I guess it comes down to decide what is cheaper - to have the VO record smaller pieces separately, or eLearning developer cuts big audio parts afterwards.

David Gilbert

Hi Enes,

It is actually a common practice in the industry for VO's to charge a fee per file separation as it does require more work to split "click and next" type slides into smaller audio files with unique filenames (not referring to regular natural breaks for separate pages/slides but rather where breaks are required for every paragraph).

Personally, I tend not to break out this fee unless the job requires an excessive number of smaller audio files.