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Audio Guide VO: Have you toured this genre lately?

Edge Studio

The Audio Guide genre – supplemental recorded material to provide enrichment and education for the client’s visitors – is a very interesting and a potentially rewarding specialty, especially considering that it’s a bigger field than many people realize.

Many people think of Audio Guides only in terms of museum tours. That’s obviously a huge segment, but there are many other kinds of audio guides, too.

All the following settings, and more, have audio tour potential:

* Museums and other exhibitions – Might as well start with the obvious. If you have special or extensive knowledge in the subject that’s on exhibit, here is a great way to apply what you know, while providing extra value to your client. It’s also satisfying to know that you’re providing a meaningful service to people who use the audio guide. And while the articles you describe will be the star of the show, the overall goal of any audio guide is to be entertaining. You will be an important contributor to that.

* Tourist locations – Not every museum has walls. Historic sites feature “progressive tours” that the visitor listens to while moving from place to place. The site could be a group of historic structures, a battlefield, an archaeological dig, anything. In these situations, an audio guide is more convenient and more personal than a guidebook. And you will help make it more interesting.

* Campus tours – How many prospective students and their families visit college campuses every year? There are only so many administrators and/or student guides to show them around. Recorded audio tours fill this major gap. Life decisions may be affected by the quality of your work.

* Walking tours – There are other tour situations similar to those above, except that they range more widely, perhaps covering an entire county. The listener might be expected to start and stop the recording while moving from place to place, or the tour might be timed to account for walking from place to place. Sometimes, if the listener walks more slowly than typical or is delayed on public transportation, there are options for skipping certain waypoints in order to catch up.

* Driving tours – These are similar to a walking audio tours, except there might be some “GPS-style” guidance included. If ever there was a need for talent who is easily understandable and non-confusing, a driving tour is it.

* Company tours – Although these are more likely to be personally guided, maybe the tourer is a trusted employee. Depending on the company and its facilities, this might resemble a museum tour, a campus walking tour, a driving tour. A company is likely to have other voice over needs, as well.

* Accessibility guides – The visually-impaired have every right to an enriching, educational tour of the world’s worthwhile sites, as well! This is where accessibility-focused audio guides come in. These are typically a bit more descriptive of the scene in front of them, telling details about the exhibit, landmark, or display.

* Language assistance – The vast majority of audio guides can be purchased or requested in a multitude of languages. This means, if you are multilingual, that you can save your clients time and money by providing voice over in more than one language! This is more money for you and less hassle for them; a win-win situation.

This list could be as long as your imagination concocts. As tour technology, usage, and awareness expands, the genre continues to grow.

Just as audio guide situations vary, so, too, do audio guide clients vary. Some are very experienced at writing and producing tours. Some are independent producers specializing in the genre. But some are producing a tour for the first time.

You can make yourself especially valuable to any of these prospects. The key to achieving the skills and knowledge to do so is in training. Several of our coaches can help you navigate the best practices in audio guide performance, how to meet the individual needs of different clients, and get you primed for winning auditions. Eventually, you could become an audio guide expert!

As a VO expert in the genre, you’re just what the more experienced clients are looking for. One tour job often leads to another, in a fruitful ongoing relationship.

You might be even more valuable to the novice producer, because there are so many matters that they may not be aware of.  Like many newcomers to voice over recording, a novice producer may underestimate the time required for the listener to absorb what they hear. The writing, voicing and production issues vary from client to client.

Give it a go yourself! You can peruse our extensive Practice Script Library for some scripts that catch your eye.

To learn more about our Audio Guide training, call our studio at (212) 868-3343 or email [email protected].