8 VO Clichés We Love to Hate (…and why we could be dead wrong)

by | Jul 27, 2011 | Ruminations | 8 comments

Do you know what “jaded” means?

It means:  “worn out or weary”…as in: we’re too close to VO, and so immersed in it the culture that we’re over-exposed to it.  We view as — tired — the very things that identify us to our non-professional audience.  Those identifiers become trite or cliché.

But are they cliché to the people we need in our work?…the clients, the prospects, the listeners?  Probably not.

Are they cliché to producers, agents, studios?  Maybe.

(Using my best Rod Serling imitation)
Submitted for your approval:

8 VO Clichés We Love to Hate (…and why we could be dead wrong)

1) NEVER use a microphone in your branding logo or on your website.  Really?  What is the first thing someone visualizes when you tell them you’re in voiceover?  Yup.  A microphone (or headphones…the 2nd most cliché image)  CourVO comes clean:  I don’t use one in my marketing materials.

2) EVERYONE TELLS ME I HAVE A GREAT VOICE…can I make it in voice overs?  The knee jerk answer is:  “It takes more than a good voice to make it in voice-overs.”   It’s a good answer…but let’s face it…Everyone’s FIRST reaction to Ted Williams was “he should be in voiceovers.”  A great voice WILL get you in the door…but without anything to back it up…you’ll not succeed.

3) Male VO’s have predominantly blues, browns, and blacks on their websites, and Female VO’s use predominantly pinks, purples, and pastels.  9 out of 10 times.  Seriously.  Go look around.  We all revert back to the colors of our infancy when we design VO websites.

4) More/Better equipment will not make you sound better.  Ahem…yes it will.  But…to be honest…only to a point.  So spend no more than $300 on a mic, and use the rest to build a better booth.  Your ROI is much higher.

5) You’ll never go anywhere in VO without being Union or have an Agent.  That’s only true if you have the singular focus of national radio/TV/promo/film work.  In which case you should add:  You have to live in L-A or NYC…and even that’s becoming more of a myth.  There comes a threshold where unions and agents become a serious consideration.  Until then it’s a wash…or not:  SAG/AFTRA talks could result in the most compelling argument yet for joining a union.

6) You must constantly stay COACHED. Well, the coaches would surely like you to believe this, and their is an undercurrent of this wisdom in almost every known profession.  But the bottom line is:  Are you getting work?  Are you staying busy?  Are you making enough money?  If so, then you’re probably OK….until the bookings stop.

7) No need to post a photo of yourself on your voice over website.  (see #8)

8) You must post a photo of yourself on your website.  (see #7)

Honorable mention:  Having ISDN will not bring you more jobs.  Yes it will… if you’ve lined up a bunch of ISDN jobs…your agent sends you ISDN work, you can afford it, and you’re in demand.  Accept all those caveats, and yes, ISDN will bring you more work.

Did I miss something?




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  1. jill

    dave, today you made me smirk, giggle, and nod. thank you – loved it! take care, jill

    • CourVO


      ….and you made me smile today when you responded… Thanks for that, and thanks for visiting.

      Dave C

  2. Steven

    I wanted to add to #7. Posting a photo on a website benefits you simply for helping to overcome the fear of anonymity many have using websites. We dont know each other. We like to see if the person is for real. The only way I see it count against some individuals is if clients “want to keep it real” and the voice talent is able to sound like an opposite gender, race, or age. Only specific types of voice talent have to think about it.

    Great stuff as always!

    • CourVO


      I could see the argument both ways… it sort of ruins the mystique when the voice sounds one way, and the face looks the other….but by and large I fall on the side of posting a pic to satisfy natural curiosity…then move along.


      Dave C

  3. Rick Lance

    I have to agree with Stephen on the point about headshots. The old idea of, “I’m a voice actor no one cares what I look like” or But I do character voices of all ages I don’t want to reveal that I’m 60 and can sound like a teenage girl.” Well, if that’s true then it will be fascinating for folks to see your face.

    The fact is, we are professionals in business. Every business person needs to show their faces… make internet eye contact… reveal yourself as a real person. Someone people can talk to… a peek behind the curtain.

    As far as having a mic in your shot, as a commercial photographer in business for many years in Nashville I’ll say this. Be careful what you have up close to your face in a headshot. Unless it is a shot that is very, very unigue nix the mic idea. As a photographer, I shot many artists with guitars in their hands. Lame… so lame… unless really unique. Everyone knows what a mic and a guitar look like.
    You should have established already on your website that you’re a voice actor (or recording artist) Why beat that into the ground. Get a good clean headshot on a plain background. Avoid the Sears looking painted canvas backdrops as well. They’re over used.

    Ya know, maybe I should blog about what makes a good headshot!

    Anyway, I enjoyed your straight forward ideas here Dave!

    • CourVO


      Thanks for your response. I tend to agree with you, and your reasoning makes sense to me. I just think most people have a natural curiosity about what the person looks like with whom they are forming a relationship or having a conversation.
      A picture answers that, and then both sides move on.

      Thanks for commenting, as always.

      Dave C

  4. Rowell Gormon

    …for years I avoided any photo in my own promotional VO material because of the range of characters I was called on to create. But as the trend has shifted more and more to the “realistic” sound producers are clamouring for, I’ve accepted the suggestion that my image (at least a small one) DOES aid in my perception as a warm, casual, trustworthy voice. I do think it’s still open to debate.


  5. Rowell Gormon


    what irony. the blog software deleted my picture! maybe i’ve got this all wrong.


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