By Gary Terzza.
Why aren't you getting very much voice over work? Or should that be why aren't you getting any voice over work? Is it, perhaps, because you are acting like an amateur without even realising it?
I am going to explore why so many voice over artists fail to make the grade, not because they have the wrong voice (whatever that is) or their performance is poor, but because they simply do not take their own voice over career seriously enough.
What does the word 'professional' mean to you? In voice overs it could be the adjective:
"she is a professional voice actor"
Or it could be the noun:
"he is a real professional in front of the microphone"
How often do you describe yourself as a professional voice over artist, or do you shy away from using the word? Many of us are reluctant to do so for fear that it sounds, well, a bit naff.
But some of us do not even deserve the epithet .... and here's why.
A couple of years ago one of my voice over students was explaining to me how she had auditioned for a job at a major TV broadcaster - pretty impressive stuff; they liked her voice for sure. Sadly she did not secure the job, so we explored the possible reasons why.
We went through the audition step be step. All had been going well until the director had questioned her read of the script. "He told me it wasn't read correctly, but I replied I thought I had delivered the lines properly" she said.
She was arguing with her potential employer. The director wanted it read in a specific way (it is what director's do for goodness sake) and she had disagreed ..... at an audition!
This is a prime example of being unprofessional.
It is the voice over talent's role to give the director what they want. If they say speed up, you read faster. If they say less drama, you tone down your delivery. Arguing your point is not on the agenda. Needless to say my student felt the industry was not for her (she cited her 'strong personality') and I have not heard from her since.
The Little Things
Let's take your voicemail. If a potential client was to phone your mobile and you were out of range, the call would be diverted to the messaging system, so whose voice would they hear?
Would it be yours, or the default phone company voice?
It needs to be YOUR voice. You are the voiceover artist, not the preset message - she's already successful .... that's why she got the gig! Imagine a photographer displaying generic stock images on their website; would you book them to take your wedding photos? Of course not and that is why you need to promote your talents at every opportunity.
Make sure your voice is the one that greets people every time they call.
Likewise you should add an automatic signature to your emails. This should be a clickable link that takes the visitor straight through to your webpage.
Haven't got a website?
That's no problem as there are numerous alternatives. You could create a Soundcloud account and point the link directly to your uploaded showreel, or create a free profile on one of the pay to play sites such as Voice123.
The important thing is to show you are a professional voice over artist by making your voice easily accessible.
There is nothing likely to make a director's or producer's heart sink faster than receiving an email that says 'I am looking for voice over work'. Instead explain to your prospects, in a positive manner, what your voice can do for them.
You are offering a solution to their problems; they may want a voice over on an explainer video for example and you could be the voice they are looking for. Tell them what your voice sounds like and how it might be useful to them. If you need help on writing a covering letter and CV for voice over work please see my earlier post on the subject.
If you use Twitter (and it can be a great resource for marketing yourself) don't start pleading for work, It smacks of desperation. Instead tweet about your life in voice overs - are you building a studio? Are you practicing a tricky script? Can you help someone with a question about performance?
Always make yourself sound like a true professional.
Let's go through some of the studio do's and don'ts of being a voice over pro:
☛ Don't be late. Obvious I know, but you will be amazed at the number of voice actors who stroll into the studio 10 minutes late (or worse). Be punctual because studio time is money.
☛ Remove noisy jewellery. Bracelets, bangles, earrings et al can all be picked up by the mic. The sound engineer may even assume there is an audio issue with the track before locating the source of the noise.
☛ Turn off your mobile phone. It is easy to forget this one, so make it a routine before you enter the studio. Even putting your phone on mute is not enough as the signal can still cause interference on the recording.
☛ Don't rustle the script. Develop the newsreader's art of the silent page turn. Or better still, have your script on an iPad or tablet.
☛ Respect the sound engineer. It goes without saying to be courteous to the director and client(s), but always work closely with the talented individual who will be making your voice sound awesome. Developing a good working relationship is essential.
☛ Liaise. Don't guess how a script should be performed, find out. This is especially true if recording from home. When doing long form reading, send a sample to your client for checking first. Always keep your client updated and informed. An amateur just gets on with the work, a professional asks questions
Projecting a business-like image is essential. Clients want to know that you are a safe pair of hands and can be trusted with their project.