Entries Tagged as 'voice over workshop'

batman joins the voice-over workshop


There are somethings on the internet so perfect that you think they are written just for you.

Were that I was so special but I am not. Many voice-over talents endure my similar predicament of receiving phone calls and emails every week from people who have no voice-over experience wanting to get into the industry.

Their sole qualification: their friends or family members say they have a nice voice and they should look into getting started in voice-over.

An artist’s equivalent to that logic would be if someone walked into a freshly painted, single color room and said to the painter “You paint nicely. You should paint something on canvas and sell it to an international renown art gallery.”

When we are together, we chuckle because these callers and emailers don’t understand that a nice voice will not help you launch a career in voice-over. It’s a business…a difficult business that requires a great deal of work. Much of that work doesn’t even involve a microphone.

To be fair of course, one doesn’t know what one doesn’t know…we all experience that throughout our lives when we begin new tasks of all kinds. But the concept of just having a nice voice as the ticket to begin a career in something many of us have spend decades working at and studying for is a bit frustrating for those in the trenches.

The Voice Over Entrance Exam by Peter K. O'Connell Copyright 2009It’s one of the reasons I wrote “The Voice-Over Entrance Exam”. It’s a little bit more direct and honest than many voice-over books out there that encourage people to chance the dream of voice-over. My opinion has been and remains that it’s OK to chance the dream but you’d better have a solid business foundation as your ship’s anchor or you will be forever lost at sea.

So the Batman graphic, used so often in memes across the internet, struck me as so perfect that I added it to my web page for the The Voice-Over Workshop. 

To the creator of this meme, I salute you.

why the horn-toot is so vital to voice-over marketing


During one of my Voice-Over Workshops for a voice talent last week, we reviewed some of her marketing challenges and internal struggles. She is a talented voice talent and a generally gracious human being — all wonderful traits that I aspire to.

But her marketing kryptonite is tooting her own horn – marketing herself (which is her brand) out to the marketplace. She finds it awkward, braggadocios and lacking humility (my words not hers). Like I said, she’s a gracious person.

Let me repeat a secret I have shared here before…horn tooting or self-marketing IS awkward, braggadocios and lacking humility – no matter how subtle you try to be (be warned, a subtlety overdone can completely water down a marketing message).

I have grown a bit more accustomed to it now, but when I started out in my voice-over business, I felt REALLY weird about marketing my brand: me! Using “I” in sentences, talking about MY work, me writing a press release about me. Yuck.

How self-absorbed, how egotistical, how arrogant! Just who the hell do I think I am?!!!

I feel your awkward pain frightened horn tooters but now I’ll share with you the epiphany that allows me to toot my horn with less (not none) awkwardness.

Who the hell do I think I am?

I am a small business owner who has kids to feed and a mortgage to pay…and that money does NOT come in unless I am out there telling people what I do and how I do it and how what I do will help their business. And I AM the company. Whatever the tag line, no matter the iconography, at the end of the day I, as the professional voice-over talent, am the brand. I am selling myself – just not on a street corner…yet.

So I toot (and if you’re 5 years old, you are now giggling uncontrollably at my unintended fart joke—that’s cool, fart jokes ARE funny).

But since I am doing the promotional work (writing, choosing media outlets, targeting the messaging etc), I can control the message that gets put out there, I control the tools and images I use to promote myself. Some people feel more comfortable using a 3rd party to do this…hey, whatever gets the job done for you.

It is a necessary evil in a free-lancers life – this self-promotion.

So here’s is my little imaginary trick for dealing with this unsettling process of self-promotion you must do: pretend as you going through your marketing tasks that you are marketing for another company. Not another person, another company. In your head replace your name with Acme Voice-Over Company. This psychological game with yourself might give you the distance and perspective to get the horn-tooting starting and keep it going.

Listen, you are not egotistical, you are not self-absorbed.

You ARE a freelancer. You ARE small business owner or now what people are calling a Micro Business (soooo teeny tiny like me).

And you have my personal blessing to grab your horn and toot. It’s not only OK…it’s a requirement!

P.S. I did ANOTHER Voice-Over Workshop on Saturday and wouldn’t you know…another frightened horn tooter. It looks like we may have to hold a telethon! But again, now all’s well for him too. So all you frightened horn tooters…you are not alone.

the 2014 midwest voice-over conference march 28 & 29

Midwest Ohio VO

So on Facebook, where voice talent go to cajole, complain and try out new material, I saw there was yet another voice-over group. Like a lemming, I joined it – or should I say I was accepted cause the owner, my friend Terry Daniel keeps it closed (never a bad idea).

The FIRST thing I saw was something I did not know about – something called the Midwest Voice-Over Conference.

Now as anyone in voice-over knows, the world is not lacking for voice-over conferences – most all of them trying to share knowledge and sell stuff – that’s fine. You’re all pretty familiar with my partiality to FaffCon, which is a completely different animal as far as voice-over events go (which is why it’s always a sell-out). FaffCon is great too, not better than other events (that would be a subjective opinion anyway) but great. My point is there’s room for these events. Whether or not there’s an audience for all of them has yet to be determined.

What caught my attention was the concept of a meeting specifically of mid-west voice talents – wouldn’t that be fun?! Same with northeast, southwest etc. Divide it up anyway you want…make it a conference for only voice talents with connected earlobes – who cares, just have fun and learn. The connections these folks make with each conference will prove to be very valuable, even if (as with the Midwest Conference) the conference is mostly for newbies. Hey, it’s never bad to make a new friend.

The person who I know most who is presenting at the the Midwest Voice-Over Conference is Laura VonHolle, who is one of my agents at Heyman Talent. Now like all my agents, she’d have trouble picking me out of a line-up, but she and the folks at Heyman are good people and they’re going to have a heart to heart with the folks at the the Midwest Voice-Over Conference about securing representation. That’s a pretty good start as topics go.

My advice (other than for the organizers to drop that annoying audio commercial that plays as soon as you open the site) is if you have the time and you’re working (or want to work) in the VO biz, then head over to Columbus for the weekend and see what the experience has to offer. I hope everybody has a great time.

why the hell do you want to be in voice over?!

voice over workshop presented by voice over talent peter k. o'connell

That’s what I feel like saying to every new person that calls me about the Voice Over Workshop and wants to get started in voice over. But I don’t say it; I try to be honest with people but I try not to be brutal.

Everyone….everyone is entitled to their dream and I am not the final arbitrator of talent or career choice. It’s just a dumb vocational decision fraught with lots of challenges, which can prove insurmountable to many. I think a VO newbie might enjoy a career in bomb disposal more.

But today, a Sunday of all days, I got two calls from folks wanting to get started with voice over training. Sunday being a day of reflection for many, these two folks may have reflected on voice over. Or maybe it was a rainy Sunday and they had nothing else to do except search the web, I dunno.

But because they seemed a little unsure of my training process (in spite of my wordy web exposition on the site), let me – again – briefly explain how this works.

1. I’m going to initially send you to www.voiceoverentranceexam.com and tell you to read my free book. I do this not as an exercise in ego but to give you a sense of how honest I will be as a voice over consiliere.

2. Then if you want to go forward, we will pick a Saturday and work for 2 hours on whatever voiceover topic you choose. Yes, YOU pick the agenda (I’m a voice over talent…planning to is too much like work…kidding!).

3. There are no minimum classes – you can do one class or one hundred…there are no discounts for multiple classes. My knowledge bank does not decrease the more frequently I work with you – hopefully you see even more value with more visits…that’s the feedback from my learners, anyway.

4. Yes, the guarantee is still in place…if we go through the lesson and I think you do not have what it takes to be in voice over, I’ll stop the first session, tell you why you suck as a voice talent in my opinion and you don’t pay me anything.

5. No, I really don’t just want to talk with you about voiceover for a few minutes. I know you are a nice person, so am I but I am also a very busy person and I have to draw the line somewhere. Family and finance come before sitting in a coffee shop giving free career advice to someone I’ve never met before. I know, I’m such a jerk even though I say I’m a nice person.

So there, that’s how the Voice Over Workshop operates. Wherever this information ends up on the web, hopefully that gives you a sense of how we would work together…and I hope we do get that opportunity.

today is my thank you

This week I sent out my fairly irregular Voice Over Workshop Kick In The Pants eblast.

It’s a simple little newsletter to my voice over friends about things I think will be interesting and some information about available dates I have for the Voice Over Workshop

At the most, I hope the people who read it find something of value.

Well I got the nicest, simplest note from voice talent Brian Haymond who told me he wrote a blog post about the newsletter.

I completely did NOT expect that but I was really pleased that he found something so of interest that he wanted to blog about it.

Not to crow too much but only to say it was a nice feeling.

quick tips on successfully interpreting and voicing a commercial script in under 7 minutes

Here’s a scenario: you get a call from a commercial client and it’s a rush deal, they need the spot done yesterday. You will have very little time to digest the copy before you have to record it and send it back. What are you going to do?

For many folks, they will scan the script and hit record. After all, the client needs it NOW and they are in panic mode, not quality mode so it won’t reflect on you if the read isn’t perfect.

Stop. Don’t do it. Back away from the script and the microphone. Breath.

You can still get the spot done quickly but also get it done right.

Step 1. Grab a pen or pencil

Step 2. Read silently. Mouth CLOSED, no lip movement. Read only with your eyes…don’t speak a word of that script….not one word.

“What?! That’s crazy, I need to practice how this will sound!!!!”

I told you to be quiet when you read the script for a reason. You need to dissect the script as you read.

So read this :30 second script 3 times – this will take you about 2:30 all totaled.

On the 1st read: Read for comprehension – this is vital. VITAL! You need to grasp the copy writer’s intent going beyond script direction (cause often you won’t even get that!) Are they going for humor? Drama? Silly Sublime? Are you a character or just an announcer? What kind of character or announcer? What kind of sell are they going for? Knocking them in the head with a sledge hammer kind of sell (“Sunday! SUNday! SUNDAY!!!”). Is it a scare tactic script (“is your computer data backed up or could you lose it all with one power surge?!”). All these things and more you need to be able to identify after the first read through. Take/make notes on your script.

On the 2nd read: Is there a change in tone or intensity from one part of the script to the next? Does it start softly and build in intensity? Is it suble all the way through? Is it hard sell all the way through? Where is the critical sales message (you likely found that in the first pass but you should confirm your assumption here).

One the 3rd read: Start reading the script out loud, making your announcer marks as you go. Check the copy for time (notice – this is NOT something I advise in the first two read throughs – to do it earlier would take your mind away from critical interpretation notes.) Now your natural voice over abilities and acting talents can take shape and make the script your own.

By now you understand the script a lot more than you would if you just started reading. You’ll have a better chance of properly conveying the message the client needs the listener to hear. You’ll have a comfort level with the copy, intent, sales message and pacing of the script so that not only will you cognitively understand the script, your mouth will have wrapped itself around the words and give you a better shot of cutting the spot in a shorter amount of time…maybe even in one take.