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  • Writer's pictureElliot Hardman

What Makes a Good Voiceover Reel?


A good reel - it's the face of your business as a voice talent. It'll be the first thing that most prospective clients will hear of your work because they even think about booking you. So, it's important to get it right.

Let's talk a little today about what actually makes a good reel. I'm coming at this from a commercial VO standpoint, hot on the heels of me releasing my newest commercial reel (seen below), though this information will certainly be mostly transferrable to voice acting aswell.

How do I get a reel?

Let's talk basics, first - should you have a reel? Yes, absolutely. Whether it's clips of work you've already completed or mock-up projects created specifically for the sake of the reel, it's very important to showcase your skills.

Should you make it yourself? Only if you truly know how to. It's a complicated process, making a reel - it includes voice directing, composition (sometimes), sound designing & foley and audio engineering & dialogue mixing. I produce my own reels, and even with the 10+ years I have working in all of those fields in one way or another, many an experienced reel crafter would be able to pick holes.

So, my recommendation is to scout out some reel producers and voice directors and get them to bring the best out of your voice. I made a Twitter (yes, not X) post recently, asking for recommendations from my VO friends. Find the post here, but I'll also list a few standouts here:

There's loads more out there, but these guys were pointed out multiple times! I'd recommend doing your own research through that post.

What should be in my reel?

From here on out, any voice director who works with you on your reel will also answer these questions, but it may help you to go in knowing both what to expect and what you'd like.

So, what should be in the reel? The buzzword I'm going to use here is variety. The aim of your reel is to show that you've got the chops to play the character the client wants, before you know what the character is. Consider some different styles:

  • For commercial VOs, include reads in different instances:

    • Commercial, Corporate, Trailer, Podcast, Voice Guide, Explainer, eLearning.

  • And also try to include different tones in there, for example:

    • Fun, Endearing, Casual, Conversational, Angry, Enthusiastic, Playful, Serious

  • You don't have to include every tone, but it's important to have differing styles across each example.

  • For voice actors, think of different character types:

    • Cool Guy, Villain, Mad Scientist, Bratty Teenager, Grumpy Old Man

  • And again, try to include different situations that vary their tone:

    • Character gets angry, wins a fight, is heroic, is in love

Anything you feel you excel the most at - as long as it differs from the rest, include it!

How long should my reel be?

Client's won't want to listen to your 3 minute reel. When they have hundreds of reels to go through of people who have auditioned, the only thing that will catch their attention is short, snappy and effective reels.

On the other hand, you don't want it to be so short that the client will never truly hear you getting into that style before it's all over.

Aim for a reel of somewhere around 90 seconds - this is a nice sweet spot. Inside this 90 seconds, aim to have each character/sample run for no more than 20 seconds (ideally). No big deal if it goes over 20, but just be aware that your sample isn't stealing the show from the rest of the reel.

Having your samples at this length will let your reel hold 5-6 different samples, which is a great amount to have to grab a client's attention who really doesn't have much time to listen to your reel.

It's worth me acknowledging that some reels can vary all the way up to 5 minutes, though I'm specifically referencing variety reels in this article.

What should it look like?

Honestly, just make it look presentable. Commercial VO reels tend to look a bit more professional when they're kept clean and simple, whilst character VO reels often have a bit more fun injected into them. That being said, put your own spin on it!

I would say that having at least some form of animation on your reel can really help. A moving background, elements that pop in (don't go overboard!) or even just a waveform.


And there you have it! You've got yourself a professional reel, ready to display on your profiles and send out to agents.

Good luck out there - this is the first big step in your voiceover career.

Peace out. Be kind.


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