Entries Tagged as 'kick in the pants'

a little, tiny Christmas voice-over spanking for my fellow voice talent

Charlie Brown Christmas_ All Right and Trademarks Acknowledged

You are…to every man, woman and child that I know earning a living in the voice-over profession…all talented people of good heart.

If you’re not, well, you fooled me.

But with this sincere compliment offered, I pose this stinging, serious and direct critique that you are free to ignore:

Your Christmas and holiday messages to your clients and peers are NOT the time to wish us well AND let us know your holiday schedules and availabilities. When you do this cringe-worthy act, you unwittingly come off as insincere and desperate as well as seemingly ignorant about what this holiday season is all about for most of the world.

HINT: This holiday season is NOT about you getting more voice-over jobs.

In this one message to your clients at a time of year steeped in a variety of religious traditions for people of numerous faiths that most all people still hold sacred – be real.

Be human.

Be sincere.

Offer your wish, your hopes or just a simple message of good will. Then stop.

It’s not a marketing opportunity. It’s not a scheduling opportunity. If clients need you, they will find you and you will work.

A competitor won’t tell you about your very awkward yet not career-ending mistake.

But a friend will. 🙂

voice over workshop’s kick in the pants – july 2009 post script


Sometimes the person offering the kick in the pants deserves a kick in the pants and I’d be a bit of a phony if I didn’t fess that I got kicked Sunday morning for good reason.

In my July 12th post, I was so excited about a wonderful comment I read about taking the risk of going too far in a voice over performance that I omitted a key thought in the post. While you can read the whole post here, the summary of it was supposed to be that reading blogs can offer some great insights into your voice over performance because sometimes time (as is my case) and money (as is the issue for others) prevent folks from getting professional training.

While I stand by my statements completely, it is what I failed to say that caused a dust-up and rightly so. What I neglected to say was that while blogs are valuable they cannot take the place of professional in-person or at least phone training. While I have made that clear on this blog in the past and certainly pointed it out in my free e-book The Voice Over Entrance Exam, I failed to make that point clear in my blog post.

That omission got noticed by of all people my voice teacher. And she was pissed! As she wrote on my facebook page:

Ouch Peter! In my 25 years as a voice actor, I have never taken a Voiceover Seminar with a reputable teacher that has not come back to me with manifold rewards (and monetary ones). Blogs are great for sharing opinions and occasional bragging rights, but to pack your parachute with skills in this competitive biz, it takes an investment in training that should never cease, no matter what the cost. I’ve sacrificed, paid the piper and reaped the rewards.

Oh dear. This was not good. I made a mistake, I left out an important part of the blog post and the woman who’s been teaching me voice acting the longest now rips me a new one on Facebook. Well my axiom has always been if you’re going to fail, fail big!

Actually that’s never been my axiom, I just made that up here.

My response, made on bended knee when typing on a i-phone (which is no easy task):


Your point is well taken so let me clarify (and I think you know well my belief in this from my book): nothing replaces personal voice over training. The interaction is invaluable so that would always be my preference.

But there are times when life’s priorities get in the way…at least in my case. So reading is a supplement.

BTW one of the teachers who first taught me to go farther was YOU.

Thank you for that and your (as always) wise input.

Best always,
– Peter

It’s a lesson learned but likely a mistake I’ll make again anyway: re-read your blog posts 12-13 times before posting; find your mistakes then or else you’ll piss off your voice teacher. Sorry Toni.

voice over workshop’s kick in the pants – july 2009

voice over workshop kick in the pants

If you’re like me (and God help you if you are) you work and then you’ve got kids. In between you grab a sandwich and you sleep a few hours.

So taking time let alone money out for voice over seminars is costly on both fronts. This is why I subscribe to many blogs. I will set aside time in my workday to read because that’s another way to improve – not only within voice over but also social media, marketing and overall business operations. And it’s free, except for the time.

A prime example for me recently was a great performance reminder from voice coach Marice Tobias (friends and fellow VO’s Bob Souer and Mary McKitrick are just two folks who go ga-ga for Marice’s teaching insights). My light bulb moment came courtesy of Tracy Pattin’s VoiceBank blog.

Among the many Tobias nuggets in the post taken from a recent AFTRA Mastery panel: “Go Too Far.”

If you’ve been at all trained as a voice talent, you may have been told that before. If not, then that phrase may seem odd. But for me it was a great kick in the pants.

Me of all people, sometimes the loudest person in the room if not the world when I carry on in a humorous way, needs to be reminded to make a performance bigger, more intense, more subtle, more brooding, more obnoxious (scary I know). But in taking my performance further, I can see how that sounds – see how it communicates and then, if need be, I can pull it back. But I need to dare myself to make it bigger, to take the risk, to get out of my comfort zone. I forget that performance imperative sometimes.

The nuggets are out there and today I found mine by reading Tracy’s blog post about Marice’s comment.

What performance or business nuggets have you found recently and where did you find them?

voice over workshop’s kick in the pants – march 2009

voice over workshop kick in the pants

Voice over talents who subscribe to voxmarketising or who train with the Voice Over Workshop occasionally receive a free e-mail from the Voice Over Workshop’s owner (who also happens to own audio’connell voice over talent and this blog/podcast) with his advice on how to earn billions of dollars in voice over (which none of them ever do). Nonetheless, subscribers saw this first…so if you’re seeing it for the first time now, you are at the end of the line. Subscribe now to fix that.

If you’re like many of my voice over friends heading into the last month of the first quarter (Q1 for the “suits” in the audience) you’re either enjoying a feast or experiencing famine.

Some folks have got a ton of voice over business in Q1 and others have called the phone company numerous times this quarter to check if the ringer on their phone is broken (it’s not).

In January’s Kick in the Pants, I mentioned putting together a marketing plan. Some of you have done this, some have you have called me for help and some of you are still on hold with the phone company about your possible “ringer” issue.

Well let me assume for a moment your marketing is under control. How are things on the demo front? You know, your REAL business card – the voice over demo!

Voice talents are usually in two camps on this issue:
1. Produce it themselves
2. Have someone else produce it for them

Now because I run Voice Over Workshop I need to make clear it is NOT my goal to solicit demo work from Workshop students ever. I produce only a few demos a year for people (primarily not with Workshop participants). Some Voice Over trainers focus on voice demos as a key revenue source, using training as the bait. I don’t care for that business model personally.

Having clarified that (I hope) I do think it helps to have a third party produce your demo and it’s usually worth the money. My primary thought is that you are too close to your work and you need a fresh perspective. That opinion offered it’s not the point of this KITP.

What I DO want to talk about is who listens to your demo BEFORE you put it out into the marketplace. I have some suggestions.

As an example, let’s talk about your commercial demo. Say you’ve had a really talented producer put it together and you both feel it’s great. It very well may be but I’m sorry to tell you – you’re not done with your demo’s production (or you shouldn’t be).

My advice is that you seek the ears of about three other qualified people to critique your demo. You want to know from them their honest take away from just one listen of your demo. You are looking for trends.

Listen – if you ask 3-4 people their opinions you’re just as likely to get 3-4 different opinions…so what should you hope to take away from this exercise? If you get 2-3 people noticing the same sort of thing on the demo or all agreeing on an issue without having spoken to each other (and reviewers should never speak to each other or even know who the other reviewers are during this exercise) then you know you have a demo issue (or if its all positive….you’ve got a great demo!) Better to know now!

What are the demo elements about which you want feedback? There’s a ton but since you’re likely asking a favor, start with these primary areas:

• “What did you think of the first 15 seconds of the demo?” Sadly for all the work done on all 60 seconds (on average) of a demo, producers often make up their minds on a voice in the first 15 seconds or less. Your “money voice” and your finest performances need to be there. If your reviewers consistently say your best work was not up front…well then Houston, we have a problem.

• “What did you think about the order of the demo elements?” This too goes to the question of “is my strongest stuff up front?” But it also highlights if one or more demo elements seemed out of place or – to their ears – stopped the demo in its tracks (in a bad way). The demo flow you and your producer hear may not be the flow a hiring producer hears.

• “What did you think about the pacing of the demo?” With this question you’re searching to learn if they heard a demo that was “too slow” or “too fast” or that had “too many different cuts” or “not enough vocal variety”. Admittedly, this question will likely give you the most varied opinions of all but it are good to get those too. A different perspective is not a bad thing for voice demos.

Not your Mom and not your spouse. Nice people both but unless they’re hiring VO’s, they offer nothing to this party.

Certainly in this instance if you can find a broadcast producer at an advertising agency who you know, that would be valuable…even more so if they share it with their department to solicit opinions. Sure, if it sucks, it could cost you a few credibility points but you wouldn’t have been hired by them anyway and if you retool and it sound better in round two…they’ll be impressed by your growth.

A video production company producer or commercial producer for a TV station would be another good choice for what I feel are obvious and similar reasons.

Should you ask another voice talent? That’s not as easy a question as it seems. You would want to solicit the opinion of a voice talent with some strong producing credits in both commercials and demos. Maybe a good way to judge is to listen to their demos…if you thought it rocked, give them a call. The worst they could say is no.

Every producer of voice demos has their own way of doing things…indeed; this all is part of my way of producing a demo. But I also think probably not surprisingly that it makes the most sense because even third parties can get too close to their work to consistently be omniscient.

It is important to note, however, that if changes or alterations are required following this kind of listening party, it should not be a poor reflection on your producer…be it you or a third party.

The hiring of voice talent is a completely subjective process. One person’s opinion – based on their client knowledge, professional experience, personal opinions or bias, momentary mood, trouble at home…all that junk…is what colors the selection process for voice over candidates on any given day. All that stuff also goes into the listening of a demo too.

I liken it to panhandlers sifting for gold – the sand is all the different opinions and mood stuff the demo listener brings to the table. The gold is the feedback that either strikes a chord with you or that joins the chorus of demo reviewers, offering you consistent feedback.

There are some very talented demo producers in our midst and on this list and I would invite them to review this blog post and consider my invitation. I’d love to hear your opinions on the Top 5 elements that go into producing a commercial demo. Blog it on voxmarketising.com and maybe we’ll get you into the podcast’s roundtable.

Enjoy the ride!

voice over workshop’s kick in the pants – january 2009

voice over workshop kick in the pants

Voice over talents who subscribe to voxmarketising or who train with the Voice Over Workshop occasionally receive a free e-mail from the Voice Over Workshop’s owner (who also happens to own audio’connell voice over talent and this blog/podcast) with his advice on how to earn billions of dollars in voice over (which none of them ever do). Nonetheless, subscribers saw this first – so if you’re seeing it for the first time now, you are at the end of the line. Subscribe now to fix that.

I came across a comment from a voice talent friend of mine who noted that they hadn’t heard from any past clients in a while. She surmised: “Hmmm, I better do some marketing.”

Had my Mother not taught me better, I would have said to her “That makes about as much sense as saying ‘Hmmm, I just finished taking the Bar exam, I think I’ll start studying for it now.'”

While I doubt I’m the first one you’ll hear make this point, the time for marketing is yesterday, today and tomorrow. In short, always.

We’re cursed and blessed as voice talents with a fair amount of time in our work day where we’re not voicing something. Oh some will tell you they’re always voicing throughout the day but by and large they’re full of crap.

Like me, your Mother probably raised you better than to point that out to them.

So you’ve got the time to do the marketing and you’ve got a budget in mind and ain’t it just handy that you’re pretty much at the start of the year.

Now what?

How about starting with a plan. A marketing plan. Think of it as a shopping list of sorts.

Sure, you can get pretty fancy with its design but a marketing plan is NOT about look and feel but rather it is about giving yourself a tool to decide WHO you want to get your message, WHEN you want them to get that message, HOW you’re going to get that message to them and WHAT that message is going to be.

It’s simple in its concept and can be as complex and involved as you’re willing to make it but you have to make a plan and then you have to live the plan. Otherwise you might as well sign up for the Bar exam.

That’s my Voice Over Workshop Kick In The Pants for this month.

If you’d like to visit with me one-on-one to discuss marketing or any other part of your voice over future, email me and we can set up a telephone session: 2 hours for $100 on any and all topics you’d like to cover in the world of voice over.

More info is available at the Voice Over Workshop.

Enjoy the ride!