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How To Find Medical Narration
Clients; Voice Over Audition Tips

By Marc Cashman

Voice Actor & Coach
©Marc Cashman 2012

This is a monthly Q&A column on VoiceOverXtra, where I answer a veritable smorgasbord of voice over questions. If you'd like to pop a question to me, please see my contact info below.


Q:  I have been in the acting world for most of my career but over the past five or more years have specialized in "medical narration," as I am also a Critical Care Nurse. Are there advertising agencies that have a department directed to medical clients?
If so, how would I go about finding this information? Who produces educational material in medicine? How do they find their talent? - Rosalynn B, San Diego, CA

A: Rosalynn, I don't know of any ad agencies that have specific departments for this, but there are agencies that specialize in representing medical clients and produce their advertising and promotional material.
Which ones they are would take some investigative work, however. The Internet would be my first place to start finding them.
The Agency Redbook and Adweek are two publications that list thousands of ad agencies across the country and break down their client rosters, but they're expensive.
You might also research medical narrators, check out their websites, and see what companies they've worked for (if they've listed clients on their site).
There are also a number of e-learning companies that produce medical narration, and again, you'd have to build a database of those through the Internet.
Finally, Audible, through their ACX program, may have a number of nonfiction medical books that you could narrate. Just go to Audible's website and look for ACX.
I hope this info helped. Break a lip, and let me know what you come up with.

Q: I've been a stage and film actor for many years, and have just started learning the art and craft of voice acting. I've heard from a number of people that the protocol for live auditioning is different from stage and on-camera. Is it that much different, and how so? - Jamie H., W. Hollywood, CA

A: Jamie, once you start auditioning for voice work, you'll find that there are a lot of things to keep in mind and a number of things to do to prepare yourself, both physically and emotionally, for this process.
Here are a few tips.

Practice facial exercises and vocalizing in the car on the way.
If it's a live audition, arrive at least 20 minutes early to de-stress, warm up, check your call time, go over any directions, and mark, rehearse and time your copy.
Rehearse your copy standing up and speaking at the volume you'll be speaking in the booth. If it's a partner read, find your partner and rehearse. If your partner's not there, try to find someone else who's waiting for their partner and rehearse with them.
Bring your marked copy into the booth with you, put on your headphones, and keep rehearsing the copy until the engineer is ready for a level. Remember to take your copy with you when you're done.
Be spontaneous, sincere, attentive, friendly and willing to adapt.
Listen to yourself. Are you believable?
Redirect nervous energy into constructive performance. Keep breathing and focus on performing.
Be confident in your abilities. Remember, you were invited to be there.
Ask questions about pronunciation of proper nouns, anything that affects your performance.
Ask for more or less gain in your headphones, if necessary.
Make the copy your own. Add your personality and individual "spin."
Listen to the producer's directions carefully, and be sure to incorporate them into your next take.
Keep track of your expenses. The IRS requires detailed records.
Have water in the booth at all times.

Listen to any instruction the engineer might have for you regarding the microphone.
Thank the casting agent or director and engineer when you leave.
Leave a current demo if appropriate, with your cell phone and/or pager number.
Leave quickly and quietly - a professional exit.
After you're home from the audition, get names and addresses for your mailing list for follow-up thank you and holiday cards.
If the audition is not live, and you have to send in an mp3 file from your home studio, make sure you follow directions explicitly in terms naming files, slating, recording settings, directions, etc. If you don't follow these guidelines exactly, your audition, and the time you took to record and edit and send it, will be thrown away.
  • Dawdle. Instead, be ready to read quickly.
  • Gab with other actors until after the audition. Instead, concentrate and focus on your job.
  • Touch any equipment (the music stand is okay). Instead, let the engineer or producer make mic adjustments.
  • Argue about direction. Ever.
  • Be afraid to make suggestions if the copy is awkward, but don't be surprised if they're not accepted.
  • Worry about making a mistake. That's what pick-ups are for. But don't make too many mistakes, either. Omitting words, reversing words, replacing words or swallowing important words should not be an issue.
  • Call after the audition to ask who booked the job. If you didn't get called, you didn't book it.
  • Criticize your own performance during the audition. And don't make excuses for a poor performance. If you're compelled to do a post mortem, do it in the car after you're done.
  • Ask for advice or critique of your work. This isn't the time or the place.
  • Ask if you can audition again. This is your only chance.
  • Bring an active cell phone or pager into the booth. Let it roll over to voice mail.
  • Start acting until a beat after the slate, whether your own or the engineer's.
  • Ask for a playback of a particular take or the final, accepted take(s).
  • Cough or sneeze into the mic.
  • Say "Testing, one, two, three" when asked to give a level. Read your copy at the volume you'll be reading the spot.
  • Expect to do more than one or two takes. Any more is a gift.
  • Wear noisy clothing or jewelry. Also, don't wear strong aftershave or perfume.
  • Yell or scream into the mic. You can approximate volume without yelling. If your copy calls for real shouting, turn your head away slightly. And work with the engineer so that he/she can get a level.
  • Be afraid to ad lib, but if directed to read the copy "as is," do so.

Marc Cashman creates and produces copy and music advertising for radio and television. Winner of over 150 advertising awards, he also instructs voice acting of all levels through his classes, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques in Los Angeles


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Comments (3)
Michael Cyll
11/22/2019 at 12:04 PM
Great tips and advice for medical V O beginners
Ken Budka
2/17/2012 at 5:51 PM
Thank you for your insights Marc - your audition tips are a great refresher and sage advice based upon your experience.


Roy Wells
2/6/2012 at 8:02 AM
Great stuff Marc. You might want to add, don't laugh at the script or at directions. I did that once and got thrown out immediately.
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