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What information should I give to a voice over artist?

Information sign

If you’ve never worked with a voiceover artist before, you might be wondering what exactly they need from you. A script obviously – but if you want a really good outcome (and why wouldn’t you) then there are some other pieces of information you can provide that will help the process go as smoothly as possible.

Who is the audience?

Give your voiceover artist as much information as you can about who will be watching/listening to the finished project. Who is the voiceover artist in relation to the audience? Are they a trainer, a colleague, a trusted friend….The way the script is delivered will be different depending on the part the voiceover artist is playing, and who they are talking to.

Will there be background music?

Music makes a huge difference to the overall tone of a piece of audio. The voiceover artist needs to know whether they are going to be speaking over an audio bed, and how loud this might be. If at all possible, provide them with a clip of the music as this will help them match the tone and pace of their voice with the music.

How will the audio be used?

If it is to be played in a huge stadium and heard by lots of people, the voiceover artist will deliver the script in a very different way to if the audio is to be listened to by a single person through headphones.

Do you have a storyboard or a video?

If you do, share this information as it will help the voiceover artist to really get a feel for your project. It’s best not to have the video set in stone before you add the voice, because recording to set timings never sounds very natural – it’s always best to tweak the pictures to fit the voice.

Give them some direction

You will probably have an idea in your head as to how you want the voiceover to sound. Try and give your voice actor some adjectives to describe how you want the delivery to be. Is it upbeat; casual and conversational; serious and sombre? Don’t go too over the top with direction though as that can get confusing for the actor!

Are there any tricky words in your script?

If for example you have any foreign words, or chemical or medical terms in your script that your voiceover artist might not have come across before, it’s really helpful if you can provide a pronunciation guide. This might be as simple as writing out a word phonetically or telling them another word that it rhymes with. The best way though, is to record yourself saying the word(s) a couple of times and sending your voice actor an mp3 file. The quality of the recording doesn’t matter – you can just use your phone – so long as they can hear what you are saying.

Do you want to direct the recording session?

Most professional voiceover artists will be able to offer multiple ways for you to ‘dial in’ to the recording session. They may make an extra charge for this, but it can save a lot of time as you will get exactly what you want in one session. Possible options for listening in include Zoom or Skype which are accessible to everyone, as well as audio-only platforms – see my previous blog ‘The options for recording voiceover remotely.’

Where will the audio be used?

This information will help the voiceover artist price the job correctly. An internal company video that will only be seen by employees will be charged very differently to a TV advert that will be watched by millions of people. Make sure you provide as much information as possible, such as which platforms a video may appear on, how long you intend to use the audio for, and how large (or small) you expect the audience to be. This will ensure that the price is set correctly from the outset, and you won’t be faced with unexpected bills in the future for usage of the audio that you didn’t mention up front.

Do you need the audio to be edited?

Let your voice actor know if you have an audio engineer at your end who will be doing all the editing and mastering. If that’s the case then they will send over a raw file (perhaps with mistakes taken out). If not they should be able to undertake basic editing themselves so that you get a clean piece of audio that is ready to use. There may be an extra charge for this. If your project is a long piece of narration (and e-learning course for example), let your voice over artist know if you want them to cut the audio up into smaller files before they send it to you. Again this may incur an extra cost.

Pick up the phone!

These days most voiceover negotiation and booking goes on via email, but it can be easier to just pick up the phone and have a chat to your voiceover artist! That gives you an opportunity to ask if they have everything they need, and them a chance to clarify anything they are not sure about.