sign up for our

Home Shop Subscribe Advertise Articles Directories Classifieds Calendar FAQs Contact Us Login

Unraveling Sofa Has Voice Over
Tie-In: A Lesson In Client Service

By Lisa Rice
Voice Actor  

There we sat. My lovely eight-way, hand-tied sofa and I.

Oh, the memories we’d shared. Morning devotions with tea. Lively visits with friends and family. Even a few all-nighters.

Yes, through sickness and health she’d been a constant.

Now her cushions were faded, tired and outdated.

However, her fabulous, sturdy frame gave me good reason to consider upcycling.  


Several trips to neighboring fabric stores yielded nothing. Then, a relaxing weekend away to a nearby state changed everything.

While window shopping, I spotted a fabric warehouse and before I knew it, 21 yards of discounted upholstery fabric were getting stuffed into the back of my diesel wagon.  

Back home my haggard sofa’s transformation began. Because of a furniture factory layoff nearby, an accomplished upholsterer was secured.  


Then came an unexpected call.

As the upholsterer began cutting and sewing, he noticed that the new fabric had an unraveling problem. Trusting his expertise, I knew his offer to bring a cushion to my home for closer inspection was of no use.

My deal of the day was done.

I thanked my fellow sofa aficionado, offered to pay him for his time to that point and hung up knowing I’d been saved subsequent grief and disappointment.  


What, you might ask, does this have anything to do with voiceover?  

Ironically, the same day that my sofa dilemma began, I was set to begin voicing an e-learning project for a national pharmaceutical company.

These modules can be full of technical terms. I find myself reading sections three or four times just to wrap my head around what it means.  After all, to "teach” such material the voice over must sound credible.  


As the woodshedding began, several sentences didn’t read well.

Plurals popped up in the wrong places. Misused prepositions and dangling participles reared their ugly heads.  

Experience has shown me that scripts like these arrive for various reasons. Either words and phrases were copied and pasted without final draft review or a legal department helped to transform what was once a fluid piece of copy into something choppy and difficult to read.  


I was faced with two choices. Record the script as is, or hammer out the problem areas with the producer.

A phone call to my client identified the culprit. 

The original script had been lost in translation. Add to that a complicated syntax and I chalked it up to just another day in the life of a voice actor.  

We ended our conversation with a plan for each quandary to be voiced two ways. The first would be exactly as written, and the second would be the way it sounded best.

My client’s client would have options and future pickups would be headed off at the pass.


Which brings me back to my sofa spiel.

Which upholsterer would you most likely hire? The one who saves you time and money up front or one who does a job just to get it done?  

You’ll have to excuse me now; I’ve got some fabric shopping to do.  


Lisa Rice landed her first job in voice over at the age of 18. She's worked as a writer, television and radio producer and on-camera talent. Her one-to-one broadcast interviews have extended from the White House and Capitol Hill to Nashville. She’s voiced commercials, narrations, e-learning projects, promos and telephone prompts for a wide range of customers including bareMinerals, Levolor, Nestlé,  Bristol-Myers Squibb, PBS Kids!, Arm & Hammer, Walmart and the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission. 


Your Daily Resource For Voice-Over Success
Tell Us What YOU Think!
Please Note: Since we check for spam, there will be a slight delay in the actual posting of your comment.
Your Name:
Your Email Address (will not be published):
Your Comment:
Your Comment:
Security code:     
Comments (5)
Amy C.
1/12/2015 at 3:46 PM
Great article. Thanks for sharing.
Amy C.

Susan Terra
9/1/2014 at 10:34 AM
What a great piece of writing. And the message rings true, be the very best you can be.
Kurt Feldner
2/5/2014 at 11:08 AM
A little extra upfront work can indeed result in longer, back end headaches. Nice analogy!
Amy Taylor
12/12/2011 at 6:38 AM
Great article, Lisa. As hard as it is to contact the client and address the delicate issue of wording - in my case it is usually a poorly translated scrip t- it's the right thing to do. Makes us look professional and conscientious. After all, it will be our voice on the final piece! Oh, and good luck with your fabric quest!

John Hulaton
12/12/2011 at 1:32 AM
In Japan, we're often stuck with scripts that are almost impossible to read. You can name any error in English that's possible and those scripts would probably include it, or some kind of variation of it at least.

My point is that some producers or clients don't want to hear anything about editing and prefer a voice over to read what they've been given to read with conviction. I've gone your route many times and offered clients a choice because I agree with you, but most of the clients here where I am in Japan (and I'm talking big name corporations now) just want their unintelligible version of the English language, or else...

As voice-overs, of course we'd like to perform great reading, logical scripts, but when the client wants only their own brand of jibberish and will hear of nothing else, I say we'd better put on our small station lilt and smile all the way to the bar.

Back to Articles
Email alerts to new VoiceOverXtra articles
For essential voice-over business strategies
On Michael Langsner's Voice-Over Roadmap Podcast
Get your bi-weekly dose here ... all things VO!