Six Simple Requests For Clients
(To Max Your Voice Over Service)
By Rick Lance
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.
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?
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.
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.
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:
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, firstname.lastname@example.org, 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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