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an admission of voice-over guilt

I have been doing voice-over professionally since 1982. That’s not the admission of guilt.

In all that time, I have been to an Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor a grand total of once: to get my ears look at.

Never have I been to an ENT to get my throat and vocal folds looked at…that’s my admission of guilt.

Think about it for a moment…the key instrument upon which I rely for my income had never been in for a medically tune up. My microphones were better taken care of than my throat.

That’s stupid and that’s my fault.

Now, you don’t have to admit it, but I’m guessing you’ve been stupid too. When was the last time (if ever) you’ve been to an ENT to get checked out (especially a preventative exam)?

I was even pulled aside by my friend Sean Caldwell at FaffCon 5, who explained to me in no uncertain terms the dangers of ignoring throat and vocal health. That was months ago and yet I waited.

Stupid me.

Well I recently addressed my stupidity head-on…because I was forced to. If you’re skittish about unhappy endings, read on as this one turns out ok.

Here’s the brief back-story – I went down to my father-in-law’s house a few weeks ago for the Easter holiday. He has a cat and it turns out (and I knew this for a few years, having visited him before) I had developed an allergic reaction to cats (as an adult) in the form of asthma (albeit a minor but still uncomfortable form of asthma).

The subsequent significant coughing (even while on medication which I ordered up ahead of time in anticipation of my problem) left me significantly laryngitical for weeks (as my FaffCon Stand-up group can attest). That meant no voice-over work. None.

So after squeaking into the phone one day too many I decided I needed to see someone other than my talented general practitioner about my pressing vocal health challenge.

Problem was I didn’t really have a name of someone to meet with. So I called my friend Dan Lenard who was kind enough to share his ENT with me (since Dan and I live in the same area although we only see each other at FaffCons).

I met Dr. Joel Bernstein who began the appointment by condemning me for talking too loudly when I said hello to him and went on to discuss how I needed to rest my voice more when I wasn’t using it professionally, which I knew. I also let him know I have three small kids and use my loud voice sometimes to corral those feral cats. He didn’t really have an answer for that one. He just said that drugs like Modafinil, which are becoming increasingly popular, do have side effects to look out for.

So on to the heart of the exam- the throat scoping. This involves a little topical anesthetic through the nose…so that a camera tube can be put down there and the good doctor can see what’s up in the throat and vocal area. It’s a bit uncomfortable but it doesn’t hurt.

Well the good news is the exam showed my throat to be in perfect health and that there was no damage to my vocal chords and that I would be fine once my coughing and asthma symptoms subsided, which they have. I am back to voicing new projects without sounding like Harvey Fierstein.

So even though you didn’t ask for my advice, I hope you won’t be as stupid as I was…take this nudge as reason enough to contact an ENT in your area to get your voice-over money maker examined.

requiescat in pace jonathan winters

A friend of mine died Thursday…a friend I never met.

He was someone I watched on TV and whose creativity I wished I had (even a little bit of it).

When I was young, the up and coming comedian was a fellow named Robin Williams who used to do a lot of improvisation in his comedy routine. I thought it was daring, creative and lots of fun.

As his career took off, Williams was interviewed often and when he was asked who were the performers he looked up to…always one name: Jonathan Winters.

Me too. Very much, me too. He was funny, imperfect, he spent time in Dayton, OH. The similarities are there, somewhere.

When asked “what famous person would you like to meet?”, people often say somebody historic – a religious person, maybe a political figure or sports legend.

My choice died today. I think we might have enjoyed each others company.

why you might be failing on LinkedIn

I’ve been spying on you.

I know, I know, it’s not polite but I did it for your own good.

See I was going through my LinkedIn database, culling out voice talents for a client email blast I was doing.

I noticed something odd about the LinkedIn listings of voice over talents…many (but not all) seemed to forget that LinkedIn is both a social network AND a search engine tool.

By search engine tool, I mean that your listing and text on LinkedIn are listed and impact your search results on all major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing!

So why does your job title on LinkedIn say “owner”?

Or “freelancer”?

Or “president”?

You may be all those things and maybe they are listed on your business cards and letterhead but on the web, those titles don’t help you much.

If you are a ‘voice-over talent’, or ‘voice talent’ or ‘voice actor’, those terms have value on the web because very often (but not always), that’s how prospects search the web for folks like us. It’s a little thing but for organic web search, it can mean a lot.

My simple point is this: with Linked In I think voice-over talents would be wise to be very keyword specific (and thoughtful) as they write their profile. Certainly, personality should come through in your writing – LinkedIn copy shouldn’t be robotic just to please search engines. But I’m just suggesting a little more thought be put into the words you include in your LinkedIn profile.

With LinkedIn being so incredibly business-centric (thus many of your prospects likely search for vendors or information on the site) the right content on your profile can initiate a profitable connection.

There are likely millions of ‘president’ and ‘owner’ job titles on LinkedIn; there are also lots of people who have been in ‘commercials’. But on LinkedIn, they are not as many ‘voice actors’ or ‘commercial voice talents’ – and that could make a big difference for you.

So when WAS the last time you reviewed and refreshed your LinkedIn profile? Maybe now?

I hope this helps.

faffcamp t-shirt contest

With 30 days left until FaffCamp 2013 comes to Charlotte, NC, the anticipation is building…and if you haven’t made your hotel reservations….or submitted your registration….you better step lively!!!

Anyway, Amy came up with a very fun idea for the t-shirt that is given out at every FaffCon (and now for each FaffCamp): a t-shirt design contest.

I am not a designer and my work above proves that very well. But it’s fun and I think there’s some kind of prize for the winning design. On facebook, there’s a collection of the design entries.

You do NOT have to be attending FaffCamp to submit a design. So share some of your best ideas, let’s see what gets picked!