Entries Tagged as 'voiceover advice'

faffcamp II is coming march 19-22, 2015

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Faff Camp II is scheduled for March 19-22, 2015 at the Omni Colonnade in San Antonio, TX. Use this promo code: VT8988559 and I win a new(er) car! It might be a Matchbox or Hot Wheels – no way to tell yet.

IF you work in voice-over, know people in your acting class, VO workout group or wherever you’re connected to VO pals and colleagues, you should all attend if you’re all serious about a career as a professional voice-over talent.

Voice Talents Amy Snively, Lauren McCullough and Peter K. O'Connell at FaffCamp 2013
We’re looking for bright, friendly, down-to-earth VO people (like those in the above picture –ahem) who you think would love Faff Camp’s smart, ego-free, solution-oriented learning and sharing; people who’d fit in well with the Faff culture of VO people helping VO people get better at VO stuff (and make more more money doing it).

We’re doing Faff Camp II registration “Kickstarter-style”. If we hit our attendance target by July 11, we’ll see you at Faff Camp II!

If we fall short, we issue 100% refunds and…no Faff Camp.

My guess is – FaffCamp II WILL be happening. Visit the FaffCamp web site for all the details. Registration opens Monday, June 30, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. pacific time.

nerves are not just for newbies

Voice-Over Talent Peter K. O'Connell shares his marketing insights during a VO in TO Voice-Over Meet-Up at Livingston Studios, May 2014

Voice-Over Talent Peter K. O’Connell shares his marketing insights during a VO in TO Voice-Over Meet-Up at Livingston Studios, May 2014

Recently, I was invited to be the featured speaker at a semi-regular meeting of the VO in TO group, founded by Patrick Sweeney and Jodi Krangle. For professional, intermediate and newbie voice talents, the group used to meet in a billiard room at a bar in Toronto but recently shifted locations to the Livingston Studios in Toronto. It’s an intimate location, with all the VO recording facilities you could want plus a meeting/performance area – which is where the meeting took place.

If you're a good speaker, you get a mug; if you're a great speaker you get a mug AND a t-shirt

If you’re a good speaker, you get a mug; if you’re a great speaker you get a mug AND a t-shirt

Pat asked me to speak about writing a marketing plan for a voice-over business and that part of the night went well enough. Only one audience member almost fell asleep, which for me is an improvement over most of the snoozers I present to ;)

But it was the mixer after the meeting that made the biggest impact on me. A bright, friendly, young woman who wanted to thank me for my presentation approached me. But clearly she had another voice-over matter on her mind that she wanted to talk about, so I invited her to sit down and talk with me.

She was very new to voice-over although she had some performance experience. She had recently done a training session in a studio and was besieged, evidently almost from the moment she walked into the booth, by a case of nerves. She couldn’t get her mouth to do what her brain was asking it to do. Classic symptoms: words not coming out right, breathing irregularly, the whole deal. This perplexed her and bothered her and she needed to talk about it.

We did. I complimented her for being honest enough to talk about it and work through it – that’s a great start to overcoming most problems. I explained – with many embarrassing examples – how I also experienced vocal performance anxiety at various times in my VO career and that when I am in a studio or speaking publicly I still get nervous. She was very surprised by that, given what she had just witnessed.

I explained that I am able to work through it more quickly and seamlessly because of my years of experience performing and presenting but the nerves are still there. And I explained further – that’s a good thing, offering me a heightened sense of awareness to both the work being done and the audience being informed and entertained.

She and I were joined, during the course of our conversation, by two other experienced voice-over pros and fellow Faffers: Mike Pongracz (one of the 3 AmiVos – who still owe me a 3 AmiVos toque) and Elaine Singer. They too offered up to her their experiences with nerves and how they dealt with it (sidebar: sorry to brag but Faffers really do know best how to listen to and help fellow voice talent, with any type of problem better, than any other voice-over group cause I think Amy started the kind of “lend me an ear” VO philosophy – end of brag).

By the end of the conversation, I think this young woman was heartened by the support she received and the insight she was given. She won’t not ever be nervous again but she’ll now know better how to deal with it. And that’s part of how you develop into a professional in this or any other industry: by being just as scared as anyone else but doing it anyway, while everyone else cowers in the corner.

And I offer this story for those readers who aren’t brave enough to talk about their nerves or their performance fears but still want to deal with it somehow. Just know that your fears and obstacles probably aren’t unique. In this case, everyone and anyone in voice-over has and will still have nerves and anxieties. Even us old guys.

Just do it anyway.

an open letter to voice-over agents

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Hello Good People!

As my long time business partners, we have enjoyed some great professional successes. Because of your efforts representing me, together we’ve been able to make some nice money and create some terrific voice-over productions. Thank you most sincerely for your work — you know who you are.

We’ll just leave by the side of the road those who (big air quotes here) “represent” me – won’t they be surprised to see my name on their web site?! To that group I say, don’t worry, I know how expensive phone calls and emails can get.

But for the great voice-over agents, the not great agents and the agents I don’t work with – I’d like to make you an honest offer to help make the administrative side of your business more efficient and the lives of your voice-over clients a little simpler.

I would like to propose, in all seriousness, a standard email template for voice-over auditions. My belief is this will allow agents to craft a unified format on their emailed auditions in which they can simply and easily input information for new jobs each time and maybe be able to send it out quicker.

For voice talents, the benefits of this format would be a universal voice-over audition response format to follow. As a self-fish voice talent (and I know I’m the only one) when I get different auditions from different agents, I’ve got to try and remember how they like it labeled, slate or no slate etc. I want to do it correctly but sometimes when I am doing auditions while also looking the the mirror combing my perfect hair I get confused!

So, agents, see what you think about this:

#1 Each audition email you send out MUST contain the specifications for how you want your auditions recorded, labeled and returned. This must be in every email BUT once you create the audition template in your email system, you’re 90% done! You only have to fill in the specs of each job which hopefully is mostly a copy and paste task.

#2 File labeling must be universal. To begin the discussion, I would propose the following format: FirstNameLastName_ProjectName_Agency.mp3
I’m not saying that’s best (we need to include character names on some files, for example) but let’s discuss and agree on a file name style that will work on 95% of the jobs.

#3 Slating format must be universal. Some agents like slates, some do not. So I propose that all auditions must include slates. YES, there will be certain circumstances where slates won’t work, but again, for the majority of the work, slating will be fine. The format of the slate should be as follows: “This is (TALENT NAME) for (AGENCY NAME).”

That’s really it.

It’s been my experience that most all auditions are in MP3 format so I don’t think that needs to be addressed. Unique return email addresses are necessary based on how each agent would organize themselves. Nor can VO’s really do anything about audition lengths (specifically long form); on this topic, I believe the voice talents need to take their cues from the agents, knowing the agents will look out for the talents to make sure (as just one extreme example here) a voice talent isn’t required to read an entire book chapter to audition for an audiobook.

So my agent business partners out there, I hope you will weigh in on this as well. But it should be discussed and now a proposal has been put before you. The “it will never work, there are too many variables with each job” is off the table. And for any agents “who can’t be bothered to change” those are the lazy ones who don’t get voice talents any business to begin with and certainly aren’t involved enough with the voice-over community to read posts like this anyway.

So share you’re thoughts below and let’s see if we can get a professional discussion between the agency world and the voice-over world started on developing a logical solution to a universal industry issue. Thanks for your consideration.

I think it’s doable. What say you?

Best always,
–Peter

helpful tips to start a networking conversation

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Often times when people ask me about marketing, a discussion begins about attending networking events.

And at least a third of the time, someone complains about how awkward they feel going to events with people they don’t know to talk about a service (theirs) that the think no one wants to hear about.

If their attitude is everything then failure for these folks is imminent. Abort, Abort!

Look, I get that for some people, handling networking events is somehow intrinsically easier than for others. However, as an avid networker, I will add that I cannot read music or speak any other language besides English. Point being: we all have our strengths and if we put our minds to it, we can probably play a song or “sprechen sie deutsche.” Same thing with networking.

Sometimes, though, when people are uncomfortable with tasks like networking, a couple tricks can help ease the awkwardness. So when I saw this article from Fox Business News, I knew I wanted to share it with my friends in voice-over who aren’t always fans of business networking.

Some are going to equate these ideas with pick-up lines at a singles bar – but I don’t (and not because I ever used pick-up lines at singles bars…never knew where those bars were or what the lines were either).

Just read the article, give the content some thought and maybe customize them for yourself. It may be the beginning of a profitable conversation that you otherwise never thought you could start.

Good luck, I hope this helps.

why voice-over meet-up groups are so valuable

A meeting on the Buffalo, NY Voice-Over Meetup group (from l-r) Robert W. Taylor, Leslie Diamond, Dan Lenard, Chris Nichter, Peter K. O'Connell, Jen Deyo, Fred Filbrich, Randye Kaye amd Glad Faith Klassen

A meeting on the Buffalo, NY Voice-Over Meetup group (from l-r) Robert W. Taylor, Leslie Diamond, Dan Lenard, Chris Nichter, Peter K. O’Connell, Jen Deyo, Fred Filbrich, Randye Kaye and Glad Faith Klassen

Voice-over talents are a closeted bunch.

Meaning whether in our homes or studios, we spend a lot of time in booths (closets) churning out voice stuff.

It’s great but who do you bounce business, technical or performance ideas off of if you work by yourself? Where are your checks and balances coming from?

It was 2009 when my friend and fellow voice-talent (the lovely and talented) Doug Turkel invited me out to his Voice-Over Mastermind Group in Miami, FL. So I hoped in my private jet that afternoon and join Doug and his pals for what was my first official meet-up group. As with most things Doug, it was terrific.

From that moment forward, I wanted to start some kind of group like that in Buffalo, NY.

But Mrs. audio’connell and I had a child. And another. And another. A bunch of FaffCons later, I still didn’t start my meet-up group. Then finally, after attending a voice-over class that just wasn’t filling my needs, I did what all good leaders do to get things done.

I delegated.

See, I was not going to be able to organize a meet-up group with my family and professional commitments. I’m the guy that had always put this stuff together but this time it wasn’t going to happen and I knew it. But it didn’t mean stuff couldn’t happen. With the advent of FaffCon, more Buffalo voice talents attended together, we realized the power of what we could do and we all wanted to do it.

So I contacted local voice talents and fellow Faffers Dan Lenard and Leslie Diamond and said “help”.

Leslie offered up her house, Dan made some calls, we shared notes on who to invite (lots of people) and in August 2013, we held our first meet-up. I think 5 people showed up. I was stunned there weren’t more with so many talents around.

What I came to understand was that these were the committed ones, the ones who wanted to try. And our monthly meetings have been going on since. And growing!

Our troupe now includes: Robert W. Taylor, >Leslie Diamond, Dan Lenard, Chris Nichter, Jen Deyo, Fred Filbrich and Glad Faith Klassen.

To be clear, this meet-up is not like my traveling lunch dinner tours that Bob Souer and I have made famous over the years.

The Buffalo Voice-Over Meetup Group created our own agenda: reviewing successes, talking about challenges, picking a specific industry related topic and everyone just sharing info. Sometimes one of us volunteers to talk about a subject we know a little more about. We take notes….and we work on scripts. We group direct and one on one direct.

And we remember that we are not alone. Our families may sometimes question our career choices but in a meet-up, we are among those who get it. Meet-up members understand the incurable disease of voice-over performance. And for just those few hours every month, you get to talk shop where nobody looks at you funny. Usually.

They are fragile eco-systems, these voice-over meet-up groups, because they live and die by the quality of the talent (performance and business-wise) in the group. It should be a group, not something led by one individual. Plus people come and go…the success of every meeting is not guaranteed. Which is why everyone who is in an on-going, effective and most importantly interactive meetup group should be very thankful. I know I am.

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

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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.