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Pay Attention And Don't Burn The Beans!
Crucial Details For Auditions, Agents & Clients

October 11, 2017

By Judy Fossum
Voice Actor
  • Look both ways before you cross the street ...
  • Make sure to put a cap on before you go outside in the cold ...
  • Don't leave an open flame unattended ... 
  • And don't burn the beans!  
In other words, pay attention.  

So what does all of this (including the beans) have to do with voice over? 

First, as a voice actor, I'm of course also a business owner and work out of my home office and personal recording studio.

So at times I tend to multi-task, which is the case with cooking from time to time. I'll put something in the oven, or set a kettle of rice or beans on the stove to cook and head back to the studio to work. I set a timer and pledge that I will listen closely for the timer to go off, check on whatever is cooking from time to time, and add water if needed, etc. 

But in the case of the beans last week, I hadn't set a timer, forgot the beans were cooking, and by the time I smelled them it was too late. I had a smoky, stinky mess in the kitchen along with a pot of non-edible beans and a ruined kettle. 

And this was because … I wasn't paying attention.  

So it goes with voice overs. Paying attention to details is of the utmost importance on your auditions, when working with your agents, and when helping your clients.  

Here are ways to do that ...


Pay attention to what the audition calls for in all regards. 
  • Do they want a slate or not? 
  • Can you send in more than one take?  
  • Should it be saved as a mp3, wav, etc.? 
  • How should the audio file be labeled? For example – JudyFossum.mp3, judy-fossum.mp3, xyz_Judy_Fossum.mp3, etc.?
These may seem like picky instructions, but make sure to follow them to the "T", because if you can't, what's to say you'll be able to follow a producer's/client's/director's directions once you're in the booth?  


First, when submitting to an agent for possible representation, make sure you, well … pay attention and follow their submission protocol. For instance ...
  • If they want an online submission where you upload your demo and fill in an online form, do it. 
  • Perhaps they want you to email your demo to a certain address, or maybe they want you to mail a CD (yes this still happens). 
Whatever their instructions are, do exactly that.  

Once you have an agent(s) and are submitting auditions through them, again, follow their directions (audio format, the correct way to label your audio file, slate or no slate, etc.), and pay attention to their deadlines.  

When you book a gig through your agent, correspond in a prompt manner, ask questions as to how the client wants the audio saved, who you will be working with, and so on.  

This all may seem like "common sense," but it's unbelievably important to pay attention to all of these details.  


Many of the same things apply when working directly with clients. 
  • Take care to send the audio on deadline (or before), and in the proper format.
  • Ask about any directions they have regarding performing their project/script. 
  • Don't guess on pronunciations. When in doubt, ask, since it will save them time (and likely money) in the long run. 
Believe me, they will appreciate your asking and showing that you care about their project. 

Also pay attention to them personally, and their company. For instance ...
  • Maybe they say something in passing/written in an email, or you see, for example, on their LinkedIn profile, that they grew up in the state you did. 
  • Maybe you both belong to the same service/volunteer organization. 
These "non working" connections are part of what make people who they are. This is where the relationship building comes in. 

Paying attention to these details will give you something to converse about. 

It's also about being thoughtful and kind, while of course always being professional.


As for the pot of beans, well they didn't turn out at all. I wasn't even able to salvage a few of them and gave up on cleaning the burnt-on mess on the kettle. 

So there were no beans and I ended up throwing out what had been a pretty good kettle all because … I didn't pay attention. 
Judy Fossum, voice actor and owner of Judy Fossum VoiceOvers, has been behind the mic for over 25 years. Her voice over work includes radio and TV commercials, narrations, audio for websites and explainer videos, and message-on-hold/IVR. Based in the Rocky Mountain region, her studio is partially powered by wind, thanks to a residential SkyStream 3.7 wind turbine.  



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Comments (6)
Kath Crumrine
10/15/2017 at 4:20 PM
AWEsome Judy! I loved your article. Thanks for writing it and for John for sharing it here!
Judy Fossum
10/12/2017 at 5:33 PM
Greetings Jennifer. Yes, isn't that the truth. Really it's something that I need to be mindful of and to remind myself daily about.
jennifer m dixon
10/11/2017 at 11:28 PM
Hey Judy ,
So glad it isn't just me that has these learning moments!! It truly is best to stay focused in the moment - one thing at a time. This day and age pushes us into multi-tasking which is not always the best for paying attention and accomplishing tasks as accurately as possible. Good reminder. Thank you
Judy Fossum
10/11/2017 at 12:08 PM
Thanks, Debbie and Linda. When things happen like this, at least for me, it's a very steep learning curve, but generally things then that I don't forget.
Debbie Irwin
10/11/2017 at 11:26 AM
Great advice from top to bottom!
Linda Joy
10/11/2017 at 8:54 AM
Thanks for the reminder, Judy! Great, and well-written article. Linda
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