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Six Simple Requests For Clients
(To Max Your Voice Over Service)
 
By Rick Lance
Voice Actor
 
After 17 years (full-time the past 8 years), I continually try to improve my client relationships, my business practices and my voice over performances (yes, each time at the mic is a performance) with my clients.
 
Yet over the past few years Iíve encountered several glitches that can interupt or even compromise a smooth workflow during a project.
 
Communication between myself and client is essential right from the start.
 
TEAM PLAYERS
 
After all, weíre all in the communication business, right?
 
I like to think that Iím a team player working with others to achieve our goal: To make a bit of magic happen with a clear, resounding, maybe even profound message to bring forth.
 
Although Iíve chosen to write from the "first personĒ I believe I can speak for most other working voice talent, as well.
 
Here are SIX points, six requests I ask of my clients to please keep in mind as we proceed with our media masterpiece ....
 
WHAT I SAY ...
 
As the copywriter or producer, you are presenting me with a final concept and script that I know youíve worked on very hard ... revison after revision ... until it was polished to perfection.
 
1. What Is Your Project?
 
What exactly is it?
 
An intra company video presentation, an Internet ad, a trade show presentation, a sales training piece, a museum audio tour, a tourist information piece, a TV, film or corporate documentary, an audiobook, a narrative for a live show or a local, regional or national TV/radio broadcast?
 
Or is it some other type of media project, of which there are many these days.
 
What is the story line, the inspiration, the history of, or the product line being glorified in your copy?
 
WHERE TO BE HEARD?
 
How will the project be used? Will it be traditionally broadcast? Where? In the U.S., worldwide, or only in Punxsutawney, PA?
 
Will it live on for many years in a museum, or is it meant to introduce a very special, one -time corporate event?
 
Is it hard-and-fast information, or simply for entertainment purposes?
 
JUST THE BEGINNING
 
These things I need to understand at the onset, so that I'll have a clear vision of the projectís final objective.
 
Remember, Iím now part of the creative team that will help you to achieve your goal.
 
I can also more accurately price a project when I have this information.
 
This is the essential beginning point! You may be suprised at how often Iím not provided with this basic information, causing confusion before I even start.
 
2. Who Are You?
 
Please identify yourself!
 
What is the company you represent? Where are you located?
 
Can I call you and actually talk with you? Whatís your phone number?
 
Who are the key people you and I will be working with? Are you the project producer?
 
CLEARLY BUSINESS
 
So much of my work these days is Internet-based. Please save your online anonymity for your social networking posts.
 
This is a business transaction. Please donít make me play a guessing game!
 
At least include a business signature in your email to me.
 
It can be very disturbing and seem downright deceptive when Iím not clear as to who is inquiring, or who is hiring me.
 
3. Whatís Up With Your Script?
 
There seems to be a lot of variation in the way scripts are being written today. I mean, specifically HOW they appear by the time I get them.
 
Please follow this time-tested format: 12- to 14-point font, Helvetica or another basic (easy to read) plain text font, double-spaced on the page
 
DO NOT WRITE IN ALL CAPS! Scripts written in all caps are very hard to read. The uniformity causes fast eye fatigue.
 
With caps, no emphasis can be placed on any word or phrase, and more space than needed is taken up on the page. In other words, please use upper and lower case.
 
TO EMPHASIZE ...
 
When emphasis is needed, use what you feel works ... italic, bold, s-p-a-c-e-d, all CAPS, etc.
 
Also use symbols for pauses (short, long, extra long) and other verbal cues. Sometimes I may get stumped, but then I just ask.
 
NO MARKUPS
 
Please donít send a script that has been marked up with pencil or pen. Those notes may have been helpful cues for you, but while Iím recording my interpretation of your script, those marks become distracting or destructive.
 
Donít forget that I need to make MY OWN cue marks as I read.
 
HAVE STORYBOARD?
 
Storyboards can be effective in illustrating the storyline.
 
I can often get a much clearer idea of a cleverly written "left of centerĒ kind of message with the aide of those graphics.
 
However, often the minimal copy written beside the graphic may be spread over 4, 5 or more pages of storyboard. So itís a good idea to condense the copy to a single area on the last page where I can read it all together.
 
When put into practice, all of the above will free me up to give the best performance I can give from your script!
 
Believe me, many thoughts are running simultaneously (although second nature) through my mind as I perform, record and possibly take live direction from you.
 
4. Please Read My Revisions Policy
 
I have a short, simple, fair-minded policy regarding client revisions after initial recording has been completed. I realize changes can happen on a previously recorded project.
 
I cannot always afford to record, free-of-charge, revisions that were made after recording a finalized script.
 
Sometimes changes occur after long form narrations have been recorded. Itís always best, if possible, to let me know in advance that revisions may be needed.
 
Here is a copy of my revisons policy:
RICK LANCE STUDIO Script/Recording Revisions Policy
I realize that with many projects I voice, revisions or additions to the original previously recorded version may be needed. These are usually due to client changes.
 
Although I will make every effort to go over your script for clarity, pronunciation, etc., prior to recording, as well as discussing the overall narrative "feelĒ you are looking for from my voice, music or SFX, errors on my part can still be made. I will correct any errors made on my part in a subsequent recording at no charge.
 
I consider REVISIONS made by you as my client AFTER initial recording has been completed to be a chargeable service. If the revisions are MINOR, I may not charge for the service, depending on the project. MAJOR revisions are chargeable at a rate based upon the "baseĒ price I'm charging for the intial service, with consideration given to recording time, editing and delivery. Actual costs will be determined per individual project.
 
I must reserve the right to determine what is MINOR or MAJOR regarding revisions and discuss this with you before I proceed.
 
Revisions should be made within 30 days of recording of the original script. I may require a 50% payment deposit RECEIVED before initial recording of your project,  BEFORE I proceed with recording of revisions. This is to ensure timely payment for services rendered as previously agreed upon by you or your representative.
 
Charges for revisions will be billed separately. Please contact me should you have questions. Thank you! I look forward to working with you.
5) What Kind Of Format Would You Like?
 
What type of file do you need?
 
If itís an mp3, then I may be able to email it to you. If itís an uncompressed aif or wav file, Iíll probably need to upload it to my ftp site or send you a download link of some kind.
 
Or would you like a CD sent via FedEx?
 
When you receive the files, let me know that youíve received them, and that there are no corrupted areas in the file.
 
Many times I never hear back from my client and Iím left wondering if he got the files ... along with the invoice that I usually send with the files or download link.
 
I realize you may be in a hurry, but please just send me a quick line ...Ēgot the files ... sound great. Turned in your invoice ... thanks.Ē
 
6) Would you send me a copy?
 
Often I will ask a client to send me a copy or a download link so that I can see/hear how the final project turned out.
 
I realize that Iím just part of the project and that it may take weeks or months of further production, editing and client approval before the final version is completed. But please donít forget about me during this progression.
 
Iíll usually send a reminder note that Iím interested in the final.
 
It is also important that Iím able to use a short clip of the project on a demo reel for promotional purposes only. That is, after a project has been released to the public or otherwise "okídĒ for my demo use only.
 
Finally, I understand that many of my clients have extensive production, advertising or other creative backgrounds. They know that working with talent can be a frustrating experience.
 
I, too, have worked as producer, director, photography/lighting director, casting director, copywriter - as well as on-camera talent. Iím aware of the POV from each aspect of media production.
 
Yet, on any given project we are all working toward the same means. I constantly keep in mind "the other guyís postion.Ē And I expect them to do the same in return. That is how true professionals work together.
 
I hope that by giving consideration to these six requests we will all help to continue to uphold professional standards, create outstanding work, and sustain mutually benefitial relationships.
 
Now, letís get going onto the next big project! If youíd like to know more about the work I do please visit: www.ricklancestudio.com, rick@ricklancestudio.com, 615-302-2812.
 
ABOUT RICK ...
 
Rick Lance has been working as a voice talent since 1993, transitioning from singing demos and personal projects in Nashvilleís music business to voicing hundreds of commercials, then promos, narrations, character voices and more. His vocal style is described as Americana, the voice of the Heartland. He is currently the voice of Championship Bull Riding on GAC-TV and NHRA Inside Reining, Wide World of Horses on IC-TV and Life Care Centers of America, among others. He has also become a leading voice for the industries of construction, manufacturing, energy production, trucking, agriculture/equine, outdoor sports, travel, community banking, finance and health care. And he is a colorful voice for film, television, museum and corporate documentaries.
 
 
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Comments (8)
J. Christopher Dunn
7/25/2011 at 6:20 PM
Rick-

This is an excellent post and I'll be updating my process with a few of your suggestions. I really like your revisions policy. Nice!

-JCD
Rick Lance
7/24/2011 at 2:03 PM
Meagan and Lisa,

Glad you found my article helpful and practical.
Anything we can do to help smooth our relationships with our clients and expedite our projects is valuable. I plan on doing VO work for a long time to come. Our clients are our "bread and butter." The work we put out should always reflect that. We just all need to stay on the same page to make it all work!
Rick Lance
7/22/2011 at 3:28 PM
Thanks for your comments, guys!
You all made me chuckle, too, since I know all too well what you mean.

The Internet, email, tweets, etc. have allowed for this sloppiness in script writing. I think a professional writer should be brushing up his/her English Composition 101 skills. Those old teachings were developed for the purpose of standardization to communicate clearly. I don't consider my self a PRO writer, but I do know that there are certain tried and true formats for many different areas of composition. Such as script writing!

Many times these script writers are rushed, take short cuts, don't proofread (sometimes are just lazy) and leave it to us as in..."Oh, they'll figure it out." And we may be left puzzled and/or misdirected because of it. This is especially irritating with audition scripts from P2P websites. As if online auditions aren't enough of a crap shoot already!

Well, I don't know that I'm going to change much regarding script writing and other talent/client communication matters, but it made be feel better organizing my thoughts on the subject. And maybe it has comforted a few other people, as well.

Meagan Cunningham
7/22/2011 at 2:52 PM
This article is immensely helpful! I just finished recording a small video game project from home. My communications with the producer were solely via email, which was frustrating at times and unclear at others. All in all it ended well, but going forward I will certainly articulate these professional requirements. Thank you Rick...Bravo!
Lisa Rice
7/22/2011 at 1:28 PM
Great article, Rick! Practical and helpful on so many fronts.
Thanks for sharing your perspective and experience.
BP Smyth
7/22/2011 at 10:05 AM
Excellent points Rick, thanks for sharing. I will be making some adjustments to my communications to the client. Like you say, we are in the communications business. How true this is.
Roy Wells
7/22/2011 at 9:54 AM
I really enjoyed this article Rick. Your script suggestions were right on, and I might add one thing: like Alan mentioned below here, Arial 16 pt. type is always best, and please do not write out telephone numbers in a string of words. Please use the standard number notation with dashes in between.
Alan Sklar
7/22/2011 at 7:43 AM
...and also, Mr. Client...please send me the script in Arial 16. No curlicues. Simple easy legible text.
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