6 Tips for Directing Voiceover Talent - Female audio producer in recording studio
6 Tips for Directing Voiceover Talent - Female audio producer in recording studio
Aug 23, 2021
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6 Tips for Directing Voiceover Talent

Whether you’re working with voiceover talent for the first time or the hundredth, your relationship with the actor will have a major effect on the final product.

While every voiceover artist has a different style, there are a few things a voice director can do to make the actor‘s life easier.

Let’s take a look at some of the most effective tips for collaborating with a voice artist and turning your copy into an audiowork of art!

1. Before the Session – Prepare the Script in Advance

6 Tips for Directing Voiceover Talent — Two People Editing

Typos and other script issues can slow down a session and interrupt your rhythm. 

If you leave ambiguities in place until the live directed session starts, you may end up wasting the time of everyone involved.

How you format a script will affect how it’s perceived by your voiceover talent.

New changes may need to be approved by a variety of stakeholders, leading to a time-consuming back and forth and a rescheduled session.

The voice actor you’re working with should have all the information they need as soon as you get started.

Along with basic editing and proofreading, it’s also important to clarify anything that could be ambiguous.

Use your smartphone to record an audio pronunciation guide for unusual names, places, abbreviations, proprietary terms, and other words that they may not know how to pronounce.

2. Before the Session – Verify Timing

6 Tips for Directing Voiceover Talent — Person with Stopwatch

Exact timing isn’t necessary for every type of script, but voice over work is often tied to time constraints like ad slots and accompanying visual content.

Use a time-coded script so the voice over artist can pace themselves accordingly. 

If the voice over is for a timed spot, read it yourself before the session to make sure it doesn’t go over the allotted time when read at a pace you’re interested in.

If you need the voice talent to deliver their lines in a specific length of time, make sure to prep a time-coded script for their reference.

Time coding involves matching up each section of the script to a specific time-letting voice actors know the exact pace they should be speaking at.

Don’t forget to read the script out loud in advance to confirm that your time coding aligns with any relevant time constraints along with the speaking rate you have in mind.

The average English speaker speaks at roughly 150 words per minute, so a 30-second ad slot is enough time for around 75 spoken words.

Of course, the actual speech rate will vary depending on the style of content and the professional voice actor you work with.

3. Guide the Talent During Your Session

6 Tips for Directing Voiceover Talent — Online Meeting

Your script may not be enough to communicate your expectations on its own.

Make sure to give the voice actor any relevant background information to help them adjust their delivery to match what you’re looking for.

If they’re recording lines for a character, for example, they’ll need some details about the character‘s history, motivations, and relationships to the rest of the characters.

You can also provide information about the target audience to help them understand what you’re aiming for in the final product.

Some directors supplement that basic information with storyboards, video drafts, or examples of similar voice overs for the actor to keep in mind while recording their lines.

Another thing you could do is let the voice actor know what part of their voice sample you liked and that you feel could work well on your project.

The clearer the overall picture you draw for the voice actor during the session, the easier it will become for them to fine-tune their style based on your goal for the project.

4. Create a Positive Atmosphere

6 Tips for Directing Voiceover Talent — Team Celebrating

Vocal recording sessions can become tense with the client looking for the perfect take, the artist anxious to do a good job, and both sides often working on a tight schedule.

Creating a calm, positive atmosphere will lead to a better recording and make the actor want to work with you again in the future.

When you need the actor to adjust their approach, make sure to let them know what you’re looking for and offer positive feedback along with any constructive criticism.

Don’t forget to give them enough space to ask their own questions about your ideas for the recording.

5. Be Specific

6 Tips for Directing Voiceover Talent — Coworkers Offering Suggestions

Understanding the client’s expectations is one of the most difficult elements of voice over work.

Even if you have a clear idea in your head, the voice actor may not be sure exactly how you want them to approach the script.

In some cases, reading the script out loud is the best way to show voice artists exactly what you have in mind.

Setting more specific expectations makes things easier than both sides and will help you make more efficient use of your scheduled time.

6. Try Out Other Ideas

6 Tips for Directing Voiceover Talent — Team Brainstorming Around Desk

You may be coming in with certain expectations, but voice actors offer unique experience and insights.

Make sure to schedule enough time to record several takes of each section of the script and experiment with any inspiration that comes to you or the voice actor during your recording session.

Along with stylistic changes, you can also make edits to the script if you come up with anything that may be more effective than the original idea.

You can always mix and match these takes at the end, so don’t worry about getting everything right on the first try.

Don’t forget to ask agents, engineers, and anyone else who’s on the call to see if they can offer any other suggestions.

These professionals are regularly involved in voice over work and may be able to provide a unique perspective on the script or delivery.

Directing voiceover talent can be challenging, but you can make the job easier by preparing in advance and setting clear expectations.

From there, maintaining a positive atmosphere while offering specific feedback and staying open to new ideas will go a long way toward making your next project a resounding success.

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