How to direct the voiceover session

How to Direct the Voice Over Session

July 04, 2018

Many of our clients want to take a more active role in directing their talent during the voice over session. It’s important that you speak up and give great instruction so your voice can deliver your brand message exactly the way you want it.

If you’re wanting to improve your direction skills, we’ve got some tips to help you work with your voice talent – whether you’re in the studio or recording over a skype/phone session.

Before the session

Set aside time to go over the project brief and script with the voice. Tell them as much as you can about the project and what the recording will be used for. Describe the target audience and the persona you want them to create. 

Go over the script with the voice – get their feedback and answer questions. Point out the key statements, words, or phrases you want the voice to emphasise. Talk about how to keep the audience engaged throughout the script. You can ask your voice for their ideas – they have lots of experience and they might be able to make some great suggestions.

At the start of the session you may wish to:

  • Give the voice a couple of trial runs to see how the script sounds and make any required changes 
  • Play music or background sounds for the voice, or show them accompanying visuals, so they can draw inspirations from them 
  • Triple check the script fits into the required timing. Make sure you’ve read it out loud yourself.
  • Write out numbers as words and full URLs to make it easier for the voice to read

Some voices don’t like to hear a line read but for others it can be helpful. There can be a place for it, so as with everything, there is no hard and fast rule. It’s a collaborative process!

Giving feedback during the session

After the first couple of read-throughs you’ll be ready to give your voice some feedback to direct them toward your preferred voiceover read. 

When giving feedback always start and finish with a positive. I like to call this the feedback sandwich. The positive feedback is the bread, keeping the whole thing together. While any constructive feedback is the meaty, delicious filling in the middle, helping the voice to improve.

Pointing out which sections you liked helps the voice to nail down the direction you want to go in. Sometimes the recording can feel a bit stagnant if the actor isn’t sure what direction you want them to take, or is getting a bit overwhelmed with being told lots of different things. Give them a few clear adjectives to get them back on track.

Talk to your actor directly, and involve them in the conversation, as you all work towards getting the VO right. The more relaxed and personable the experience is the better the performance will be.

That crucial line

Often, there might be one crucial line at the end of the script – the call-to-action or product tagline. Ask the voice to reel off 4-6 takes of this line with different interpretations or variations. You can then choose the one that best fits.

Working with the audio engineer

You should absolutely include the audio engineer in the session. You can help them to do their job and get a great result if you:

  • Let them know when you liked a particular take – they’ll make a note of it
  • Ask them to play back a take for the voice to hear parts that work well
  • Ask them if they have anything to add. They often have a good perspective
  • Let a voice know that the audio engineer can drop them in part way through a script. This gives the voice a good lead-in to the next sentence to allow for good continuity.

Catchy phrases to get another take!

Try these phrases to help give your voice direction on their next take

  • We’ve got one in the bag. Now let’s try one for fun!
  • Let’s do one more for safety
  • Let’s try one with a bit more personality
  • Let’s try one with more of a smile
  • Let’s try one with more vibrancy
  • Let’s try one a bit more down to earth
  • Let’s try one a bit more guy/girl next door
  • Let’s try one with a bit more light and shade
  • Let’s do one completely differently to the ones we’ve done
  • Let’s try one where we run it together a bit more
  • Let’s try one where we break it up a bit more
  • Let’s do one your way!

When you enter the recording session with your voice, the more direction you can give them, the better the final product will be. Don’t be afraid – speak up and enjoy yourself!

Ready to find a VO artist and get directing a voice over session? Browse our voices to find the right voice for your project!

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