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audio’connell at the atlanta voice-over meet-up

The Atlanta Voice-Over Meet-up with Peter K. O'Connell, Diane Costello Merritt, Ashley Nicole Buchanan, Jeffrey Umberger, Adam Schneider, Bob Carter, September Day Carter, Jill Melancon, Maurice Thomas, Margaret McKee Swarts, Andrew Bates and Sally Rose Bates

The Atlanta Voice-Over Meet-up with Peter K. O’Connell, Diane Costello Merritt, Ashley Nicole Buchanan, Jeffrey Umberger, Adam Schneider, Bob Carter, September Day Carter, Jill Melancon, Maurice Thomas, Margaret McKee Swarts, Andrew Bates and Sally Rose Bates

So since I was going to visit Atlanta, I put out a Facebook message to my area voice-talent friends to see if they wanted to get together. At first it looked like it was just going to be September Day Carter, her husband Bob Carter along with my great voice-over agent Jeffrey Umberger. But then September put the call out to her voice-over pals and the dinner table got wonderfully fuller. Diane Merritt even came over from Greenville, SC!

My thanks to everyone who came out and made it a great night.

bob souer wins a 2014 audie award

Voice Talent Bob Souer Audie Award Winning Narrator of Leadership Secrets of the Salvation Army

The Audio Publishers Association announced the winners of it’s 2014 Audie Awards competition on Thursday May 29, 2014 in New York City as part of the annual Audio Publishers Association Conference. In the Business/Educational category, first time Audie nominee Bob Souer won for his narration work on the Robert Watson authored book Leadership Secrets of the Salvation Army. The book was produced by Christian Audio.

The Audie winning recording was directed by Pam Tierney.

The voice-over world is thrilled for our friend Bob!

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.

MEDIA RELEASE – New England Controls Pest Population With O’Connell’s Voice

BRUNSWICK, ME, MAY 20, 2014 – – With spring weather finally returning to the northeast, homeowners and businesses need to focus on something other than snow and ice. In this case, it’s mice and bugs.

Serving all the New England states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) Modern Pest Services recently kicked off their extensive seasonal television and radio advertising campaign this spring, selecting Voice-Over Talent Peter K. O’Connell as the campaign’s voice. The spots will run on broadcast stations across New England.

About Modern Pest Services

Modern® Pest Services is a third-generation, family-owned and -operated pest management company that has been a leader in the industry since 1945. Modern’s licensed and fully trained pest management professionals provide fast, effective pest control solutions to residential and commercial clients throughout New England and utilize the least toxic, lowest-risk products as part of an integrated pest management program.

Headquartered in Brunswick, Maine, with service centers in Portland, Bangor and Augusta, Maine, as well as in Woburn, Massachusetts, and Manchester, New Hampshire, Modern serves over 15,000 clients throughout New England.

About Peter K. O’Connell

America’s Friendly, Neighborhood Voice-Over Talent, Peter K. O’Connell, has worked with a wide variety of companies from around the world in addition to this most recent production for Modern Pest Services. Some of Peter’s clients include Kraft Foods, PBS Television Network, Shell Oil, Pitney Bowes, Bacardi Rum, Highlights HIGH FIVE Magazine, Deloitte Canada, Zaycon Foods, U.S. Army, Starz Cable Television Network, BlueCross BlueShield, SunSetter Awnings, Time Warner Cable, Esker, First Financial Bank, N.A., Harlequin Enterprises, The Buffalo News, and Darien Lake Theme Park.

Described as a natural born storyteller, Peter K. O’Connell’s voice-over productions have been heard globally in radio and TV commercials, medical narrations, television infomercials, political commercial voice-overs, TV network promos, e-learning narration projects (computer-based training, internet-based training and web-based training), PSA’s, message on-hold as well as other video and media productions. Peter owns audio’connell Voice-Over Talent, a division of O’Connell Communications, LLC.

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Company Media Releases ON LINE:

Company Name Pronunciation:
au·dio·o’·con·nell (awe-de-oh-oh-kah-nel) or au·di-o’·con·nell (awe-de-oh-kah-nel)

Company Name Spelling:
Use lower case letters- audio’connell or audio’connell Voice-Over Talent

Company Web:

Company Blog:

O’Connell Voice-Over Resume:
See resume here

an open letter to voice-over agents


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,

helpful tips to start a networking conversation


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.