Voice Talent Tips & Career Advice

Read Dr. Ann Utterback’s online voice coaching blog on aging of the voice!

Look at my recommended reading list, blog Voice Talent “How To”

Thoughts on “Thinking Big”

You’ve heard or seen the chatter of certain individuals within and outside of our business who appear to know everything there is to know about their subject, their field of work or specialty. They say they are at the top of their game, boast of their material possessions and brag their credits constantly, and insist that taking any kind of training or learning anything new is useless and unnecessary.

In essence, they have stopped to grow their intellectual knowledge base. They’ve stopped reading, attending trade shows, listening to audio seminars or taking additional training. Such folks have fallen into a trap by making an unconscious decision to stop growing and learning.

Brian Tracy, in his book “Thinking Big”, reiterates an illustrative story about Albert Einstein, who gave a final exam to his advanced physics students at laceName w:st=”on”>PrincetonlaceName> laceType w:st=”on”>UniversitylaceType>. His graduate assistant pointed out that the exam was the same test as last year. When the assistant asked him why he have the same test two years in a row, Einstein replied , “In the last year, the answers have changed”.

Scouting Trends

What was true a year ago may not be so today, and what will be true in a year from now will not be what it is today. So as we approach another new year, my mind’s eye is scanning the horizon for useful truths to adopt to keep creating and reinventing myself in such a way that will lead me to greater success.

Tracy states that the individuals who appear to excel the most are the ones who keep learning, and they are also the most humble. Today it’s impossible for one individual to learn everything about even one subject, because information is in constant flux. There are great minds specializing in specifics of their fields, so it is imperative to have an open mind, as any unexpected event can become a trend of things to come. The minds who aspire to continue learning appear adept at discerning those trends, adopt and progress. I marvel at how much I do not know! There are changes taking place al the time. In new technology, new products, new services. It’s a fun challenge to try to keep up!

Toss The Mechanical Mindset

A mentality that is rigid, inflexible and unchanging may be detrimental, and resists change. As such, this is a mechanical mindset. Conversely, the author states, the most successful performers in any field, however take a more adaptive approach if a new idea has more merit, and are more curious, and open. They approach problems systematically. They ask big picture questions. They try to piece a solution from high quality ideas, and not rush to judgment.

Tracy says the truly successful people invigorate their minds with a flow of new ideas that will keep creative juices flowing. When it comes to creativity, which is paramount to voiceover excellence, we must continually strive to be creative in our approach to a read. Be creative in marketing, and client relationship cultivation. Creative thinking flourishes within the mind and the more ideas you are exposed to, the likelihood is high that you’ll get the perfect idea at the time exactly that you need it.

Get Out Of The Comfort Zone

Also relying on what worked in the past, and remaining consistent in your comfort zone can tend to block out almost all possibilities of future growth. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”. In other words, by staying so in love with the past way of thinking and doing invalidates the future. Brian Tracy says that by Thinking Big is to be willing to abandon outmoded ideas. So try new “thinks”, and you’ll find more effective ways to reach a higher level of personal and professional development.

Here is a recent email from a voiceover neophyte (newbie) and my advice.

I have contemplated attempting trying to get into doing voiceover work for a number of years. Though production and film related Meetup groups, a fellow member is assembling a cd of voiceover demos to be distributed throughout Louisiana as well as Dallas, Houston etc. I only just found out about the project, and quickly trying to put together a voice demo to be reviewed for inclusion on that cd. Though I have deejayed previously as well having 7yrs of telephone agent work in my past….I\’ve no remnant of any airchecks etc….I do have an aqquaintane who will provide the recording facility. Do you have any suggestions in regards to scripts etc. I am, unfortunately, hurriedly trying to assemble material for my demo. Are there printed scripts available free to use, online? I would make changes in words, brands, etc. – Loma

Loma,

Thank you for your query.
I believe you should be prepared and always try to put your best foot forward, especially with a voiceover demo. If it turns out to be substandard because of lack of preparation, training, production quality, or because you “quickly try to put it together”, the demo will reflect these factors you may make a poor first impression that could hang with you for a while and work against you.

Your acquaintance with the studio- have you listened to any of the voiceover demos he/she has already produced? And are you being charged a fee for inclusion on the audio CD? You speak of “airchecks”. Never put an aircheck on anything, unless you’re applying for a broadcasting job.

Haste makes waste. I hope you don’t throw money after something that may not showcase your “Best foot”, or voice talent, in this case.

There are certainly free scripts out there for you to use. Check out : http://www.edgestudio.com/scripts.htm

I personally feel you could be rushing into making a demo before you’re ready. But if you feel you are indeed ready, by all means do it.

Based on what you’ve told me, I’d recommend a few things you could read on my blog that could help you right now:

Just Getting Started : http://blog.bobbinbeam.com/categories/How%20to%20Get%20Started.aspx

There are other areas in my blog about career advice: http://blog.bobbinbeam.com/categories/Career%20Advice.aspx and here are some very handy voiceover business resources and tips of the trade: http://blog.bobbinbeam.com/categories/Resources.aspx Keep me posted on your progress. Good Luck!

For more on growing a career in voice overs, visit the How To Get Started and Career Advice sections of Bobbin’s Blog. Check out my recommended reading list:

My Amazon.com Wish List

 

Ten Ways to Sustain a Voiceover Career

July 11, 2008
By Wendy Braun
So you have an agent and a voiceover demo and you’ve booked occasional voiceover jobs, but how do you keep the momentum going in this lucrative and highly competitive industry? Here are my top 10 ways to sustain a voiceover career.

1. Bring your marked copy into the booth.

The best working pros I know still mark every piece of copy they read. Some casting offices will tell you that the copy is already in the booth, so there is no need to bring yours. It is your right to bring copy with you. Tell the office you will throw it out before you leave but you need to use your marked copy.

2. Listen to direction and take it.

You can create repeat business by being easy to work with, professional, and excellent at taking direction. No matter what the client wants, it is your job to deliver. Whether you agree with the direction or not, listening and making an adjustment will help you get rehired.

3. Know how to pace things.

Whether it’s commercials, promos, or animation, the working pros know how to shave a second or two – or five – off a piece of copy. This takes practice to know how much to speed up or slow down your pace. It is perfectly okay to ask for your “time” after each take so you can determine how to adjust your read the next time.

4. Keep in touch with those who’ve hired you.

People love to hire those they know. It is vital to your future business to create a mailing list of those who have hired you. Even in voiceover, marketing yourself is necessary to stand out from the competition. Start collecting the names of those you’ve worked with; then keep in touch with post cards, e-cards, or a new demo.

5. Go into your agent’s office.

Nowadays, many working professionals have equipment at home. It’s great to be able to send an MP3 copy when you are pressed for time, but also be sure to go into your agent’s office to read. It’s always good to get a fresh perspective from the booth director, and the more your agents see you, the more they’ll think of you when the casting calls come in.

6. Appreciate your agents.

Don’t forget a little appreciation goes a long way. When you book a job, take an extra moment to thank your agents in person or in writing. They’ll appreciate your sincerity, and you’ll be among the few who show them gratitude.

7. Listen to commercials and promos.

It’s easy to fast-forward through commercials when you are watching your favorite TiVoed shows, but don’t do it. It is your job to listen to the type of sound and delivery that is getting hired. This is by far the best way to study your competition.

8. Listen and practice out loud.

Go a step further and listen, stop, and repeat. Practice saying what you hear out loud, whether it’s on television or the radio. You’ll start developing a great ear for matching the tone to the type of product, and you may even discover a read you didn’t know you could do.

9. Keep sharpening and broadening your skills.

Expanding your skills will keep you at the top of your game. If you are solid in one area, keep that going, but work on new accents and dialects, or take a promo or animation workshop. It’s easier to build a long-term career when you can do it all: commercials, promos, and animation.

10. Collect your jobs and stay current with technology.

When you work, it is part of your job to collect the finished product. After you have gathered enough samples, you can create a new demo or add them to your website. Having an online presence will assist you in sustaining your career.

 

No amount of research and preparation is going to drive home a sales presentation if the rep’s voice and demeanor are weak or ineffective. Kate Peters, a voice coach in Yorba Linda, Calif., and author of Mastering the Vocal Elements, offers the following tips to a better vocal impact.

Using Your Voice Effectively

Pace Yourself

Maintain a pace of talking slightly faster than conversational speech to appear confident and full of energy. But slow the pace down when making a point-pace variation keeps listeners engaged.

Practice Your Pitch

That is, the pitch of your voice. More pitch variation makes a speaker sound friendlier and more engaging. Crank up the Volume- A lower voice indicates a lack of interest on your part, which will surely result in the same for your client.

Most of us are answering the telephone, writing emails, surfing the Web and dealing with colleagues and clients in an ever-dizzying whirl of activity. Asking a multitasking businessperson to stop and concentrate on your beautiful prose is not exactly realistic. People want it short, quick, and precise. If TV advertisers can deliver their marketing messages in fifteen- and thirty-second spots, imagine what you can deliver in sixty seconds of finely crafted audio delivered by a professional announcer who knows how to grab your prospects attention and make an impression.

One the the biggest proponents of the use of audio on the web is Jerry Bader. I am a big fan of his writings on the subject found here: http://mrpwebmedia.com/articles/

Memory Retention

Years ago commercials were sixty seconds, kids played board games for hours; life was simpler. Today commercials are fifteen seconds, kids play video games with incessant audio and visual stimulation, and we are perpetually on-call with our cell phones and Blackberrys. Our ability to retain information is severely compromised by a new world order of constant contact. Instant messaging has even created a whole new short-form language that brings sophisticated communication down to a new low – where is John Simon when you need him.

If you want to be heard, there is no better way than with the sound of the human voice. The human voice penetrates the clutter and embeds itself in your prospect’s consciousness.

Branding – Creating a Corporate Personality

Successful businesses all have personalities and there is no better way to transmit that personality to your prospective clients than with audio. You spend thousands of dollars on how logos, print material, emails ads, and websites look and so you should, but giving your business a personality is more than deciding that everything on your website should be blue.

Differentiating your company from the competition is about creating a memorable business persona. One of the best illustrations of this is the J. Peterman story. Anyone who watched the Seinfeld show remembers John O’Hurley’s J. Peterman character. O’Hurley’s interpretation of Peterman was so strong, so memorable, and powerful that when the real J. Peterman company went under, it was the actor, John O’Hurley, who was able to get it back in business based on his fictional presentation of the real J. Peterman. That is the power of voice and it’s ability to create personality.

Persuasive, Provocative, Compelling

Competition is fierce and getting noticed in a crowded marketplace is difficult. We cannot afford to let any opportunity to communicate effectively with prospects get by. You are not the only one with a website, blog, or product that meets your prospects needs, You must do more than just state your offering or even provide some me-too promotion, you must be persuasive, provocative, compelling, and concise.

It only takes 136 words to write sixty seconds of audio. With the right 136 well-written words, delivered by a carefully chosen, professional voice-over artist, you can deliver more than just a pitch: you can deliver your entire marketing message, corporate personality, and brand image.

Cost Effectiveness

Many business people are scared-off by an assumption that multimedia solutions like audio are expensive – but that is just not the case. Audio is far more cost-effective than video, animations, and other labor intense rich media creative. If you hire the right people who know what they are doing, you can have an audio presentation professionally produced and incorporated into your website for a budget within the reach of any serious marketer.