What you need to break into the industry is a well produced demo; this is a demonstration of your potential performing various scripts. It shows producers & voice agents what you sound like and what you are capable of; it is, in effect, your portfolio or 'audio CV'.
Your demo should include the following: commercials, trailers (or promos, as they are sometimes called), announcing and narration - which is anything from audio books to a documentary read, via an on-hold telephone message.
Voice-overs are made up of three elements:
1) the sound of your voice - its 'timbre'
2) the way you interpret a script and
All are important, but your first priority should be to record that demo (in CD and/or mp3 format) and showcase your natural voice quality, along with the unique way YOU bring a script to life. But hey, what if you are not used to reading aloud?
Practice at home and read anything and everything; news articles, magazine pieces.....even children's stories. Try and match your voice style to the appropriate scripts - it's no good a soft, gentle voice being used for a powerful, hard sell ad! Ask yourself: "what do I sound like? Am I posh, urban, or light/deep voiced?" It is what you sound like that is important, not who you are.
When it comes to experience, you have to bear in mind that each job you take on will be new; I attend sessions where I have never seen the script before and am completely unfamiliar with the style of reading required. All voice-over artists have to rely on the audio producer to guide them in the right direction to achieve the desired performance. Experience in this business is learnt on the job, but you have to start somewhere and that is why it is a good idea to have a demo, showcasing your potential. You could even make it at home using your computer, a mic and a sound card.
'Voice-over' is a broad umbrella term covering many different jobs from voicing ads, TV announcing, narrating documentaries and corporate videos right through to voice prompts and on-hold phone messages, interactive media, podcasting and everything in between. So the range of work is highly diverse and the job of an agent, producer or production company is to match the voice with the project; your voice demo effectively becomes your audition piece in this process. You will be successful at some, but not others; it all depends on what they are listening for.
Then start marketing. It's all about the blood, sweat and tears of sending your work out to as many agents, production companies and producers as possible. It is no good having a fantastic demo if it just sits on your bookshelf!
So now it's time to get recording and let the world hear what you sound like. Good luck!