Are You Ready for Your First Demo?
The very first moment a stranger sees you, he or she starts to formulate different impressions of who you are: Are you the guy-next door type or someone to be avoided? Are you a friend or a foe? Are you to be trusted or a person of authority? Are you competent, likeable, and/or confident? These impressions, on the average, are formulated in the first seven seconds of interaction.
This goes the same when a client hears your voice for the first time, they formulate a perception of how you are as a voice talent based on what they hear – from the clarity of your voice, the cleanliness of the recording, your enunciation, your tone, your expression, and more. And from that impression they can make a snap decision of whether to hire you or move on to the next talent. It can’t be helped as the human brain is hardwired to make these snap decisions in order to survive, or in this case, create a project that will be successful.
As a voiceover actor, the medium where you put yourself in a position to be judged is through your demo. Your recording demo is your resume, business card and head shot rolled into one. It should showcase your voice and how well you are able to deliver a copy. More importantly, it should be an accurate representation of your sound and style. It should never misrepresent or exaggerate what you can do as voice artist.
In all business interaction, first impression is crucial, so it is important you understand how you can make these impressions and decisions work for you. So the first demo you have to make and distribute should be able to create a lasting impression. So before entering that recording booth, ask yourself the following questions to check how prepared you are:
Have you trained long enough?
Training is the first important step you would need to take when entering the world of voiceover. It can teach you the basics or fundamentals of voice and acting, also the work involved in creating a demo, sound engineering, of mic techniques and other studio know-how. A few hours of training, a couple of workshops attended does not make you an expert, much less proficient in the field. So don’t be complacent after taking a class or two, train long and hard to get enough know-how of how it works to be a voice actor. Long and hard enough that you won’t be clueless, dumbfounded and overwhelmed when that record button is pressed.
Have you practiced long enough?
Your training does not end in the classroom – the real work begins once you step out of it. Apply all your learnings and start practicing. It is important that before you hit the studio to record your first demo, you have had a lot of practice and then practice some more. Using the scripts from your workshops, record your own voice and have a listen. If you are uncomfortable, or tentative, it will be heard in the recording. So practice some more. If you stumble when reading the scripts and you have to do multiple takes to get it right, practice some more. Once you are able to clearly communicate the message of the script, with the right energy and inflections, then you are ready for the next step.
Do you know someone who can give you feedback?
So who would listen to your practice recordings? Having a second pair of ears who can give an honest and constructive opinion of your performance is not a suggestion but a requirement. Your friends and family may have been the ones who encouraged you to take a shot at voice acting, but unless they are from the industry, their opinion does not count. The teachers, the trainers, and coaches you met from the classes you have taken are the best people to tell if you were able to convey the message of the copy effectively. Connect with them and continuously work with them to help you in creating your first demo – they can be your mentors and partners to your success.
Do you have the necessary equipment?
Are you equipped with the basic tools, equipment and software to create a demo? Do you have access to a professional studio? Make sure that use a quality professional studio where you can record and produce your voice without noise or distortion. Though many voice talents now have home studio set up, it is not a requirement for beginners. What is important is that you have the knowledge on how each studio equipment and software works, then as you go along, you can start investing on your own proper studio. Focus first in getting that first demo done. You can take a look at studios around your area, or better yet seek voiceover training schools that can help you produce your first demo.
If you have answered YES to all of these questions, then you are one step closer to recording your first demo. The next step to take is planning for your demo.
Taking that big leap in creating your first demo is a milestone you should be fully prepared to do. If the first impression is not good, you might not get another chance with that potential client or agent, but leaving a great first impression you can bet that they are more likely to take notice of you and not just put you in the bin. A great demo can open a lot of opportunities for you – so make that first one count.