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How To Ace the Audition #2
Exclusive interviews with voice-over pros for subscribers
Beware These Six
Online Audition Killers

Susan Berkley
Voice Talent, Coach & Consultant
The Great Voice Company
By John Florian
©2009 VoiceOverXtra
"Put yourself in your clients' shoes," advises Susan Berkley about online auditions.
Indeed. Picture a flood of auditions coming into your inbox from an online posting to thousands of candidates.
How much time and stamina would you have to wade through the responses? Think about it.
"They're not going to sit and listen to all responses," warns Berkley, the veteran voice talent, coach, author, public speaker and voice consultant who runs The Great Voice Company near New York City.
You'd recognize Berkley's voice when calling AT&T or Citibank. And what's a "voice consultant"? Well, did you catch Donald Trump's The Apprentice? Remember the winner Randal? Berkley was his coach.
"The hard truth is that 80% of all online auditions never get heard," she finds. "It's the 80/20 rule. They'll probably get through the first 20%, and then trash the remaining 80%."
It gets worse.
Among the first 20% that get a listen, online voice seekers will jump on any reason to say "No." If you give it to them, you've wasted your time and their's.
So if you want to avoid the online trash heap, pay attention to Berkley's six audition killers:
"If they don't hear broadcast-quality sound in your audition, they'll infer that the quality of the finished product will be garbage, too. You need a good-sounding home studio – or, if recording from the road or at work, an MP3 audition that sounds really good."
"A lot of people underestimate how a regional accent, or non-standard way of speaking, will knock them out of the box. It's important to acquire a standard American speech."
"Mouth noise - pops and clicks - are a big turnoff. People drink lots of water, believing it will help, but they don't drink it soon enough. It takes about two hours for that water to fully absorb into your body.
"The real culprit, actually, is stress. Nerves. That will instantly create mouth noise.
"What can you do about it? One solution is to eat green apples. Another is an over-the-counter product called Salivart, which helps to lubricate your mouth. It tastes horrible, but it's not toxic. Actually, it's meant for chemotherapy patients who have impaired salivary glands. Another similar product is called Entertainer's Secret."
"Perhaps you don't meet the job's criteria – like your age, or your voice type being flat out wrong for the casting."
"Many people want to do voice-overs, but their reading and performance skills aren't what they need to be. For instance, they might be choppy or not sound natural.
"Surprisingly enough, the mark of a professional is not a great voice. Rather, it's the ability to take somebody else's words and make them sound as if they're your own. Get your voice totally out of the way. Make it transparent, so that we're paying attention to the marketing message, not your voice.
"People with poor reading skills should practice daily. Read for the blind – a great way to something good for others while developing your skills.
"And look at professional athletes. Every one of them has a coach throughout their professional careers. Serious professional actors do, too. So I don't understand how some people think they're done after taking just a few voice-over lessons or classes. You should constantly seek to enhance and improve skills throughout your career."
"Product and place names are important, of course. You can't wing it. Research to get it right. Call the client. If it's a place name, call the town's police department for the correct pronunciation.
"If you're not familiar with a particular word, go online to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary web site ( Some people had great voice-over jobs here because they actually spoke all the words in the dictionary. It's a super research tool."

In the brief note accompanying your audition, be sure to include your cell phone number.
"Your cell phone should be glued to your hip, on vibrate, so you know the second a call comes in. Also have a cell phone that gets emails, and a way for it to buzz you with audition leads, and to put the leads at the top of your incoming message list."
But Berkley notes that unless you have "no other life," you can't constantly drop what you're doing to answer online audition leads.
"Group your auditions in a certain part of the day," she recommends, "such as at lunch time or the end of the day. But I'd do them sooner rather than later."
And Berkley advises that online auditions alone won't build a voice-over career.
"If you depend solely on them, you're going to be bitterly disappointed. It's like building a one-legged stool.
"These services are viable – they give you practice with actual scripts, and you might book jobs. The jobs are out there, and some are quite good. But a solid career needs a balanced marketing approach, Berkley observes.
"You've also got to know how to market via direct mail, networking and cold calling," she says.
"If you're not marketing every single day of your voice-over life, you won't get where you want to be."
Note: Berkley offers a class for self-directing online auditions. "People will record 20, 30 or 40 takes, and by then they're confused and crying. They're so upset that they can't hear themselves any more. There's an art to this – you have to understand how to interpret copy."

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Comments (25)
Kerin McCurdy
1/23/2019 at 7:23 AM
Great information, thank you!
Dave Howell
1/18/2019 at 2:55 PM
Thank you for these most useful pointers, Susan. I'm pretty new to the business and my biggest problem is thinking of other ways to market myself. I have a website, I'm on one of the online sites, I've sent demos to production places and advertising agencies, and I sent out 50 postcards introducing myself to several local companies here in Houston (with no response). I'm patient and I am not the type to give up so I'll keep trying until my big chance comes around. I do continue to visit with my coach from time to time and he said the same thing that he wished that more of his students would come back once in a while to get updates.

Thank you.
Yvonne Voices
9/1/2017 at 7:13 AM
Great article - thank you so much!
Cynthia Saarie
5/24/2017 at 8:32 PM
Thank you for the revealing of Entertainer's Secret. I have ordered it to try. I am on a cholesterol medicine that dries out my throat, terribly. I drink a ton of water to hydrate, doesn't keep me from getting a dry mouth, anyways. I really hope this helps. Thanks, and I'll let you know the results.
Mary Ann Keiser
2/9/2017 at 4:28 PM
This was a very helpful article. Thank you for these important tips.
10/22/2016 at 12:27 AM
Excellent advice. Thanks for sharing.
Voice Over Neil
4/6/2015 at 1:27 PM

Thanks for taking the time out to write that, very helpful pointers.

The competition for online auditions is fierce, some jobs pay $100 and get 40-60 auditions. Personally think the time spent doing that audition would be better spent sourcing new leads/cold calling/other marketing. I appreciate you have to be in it to win it, but those are terrible odds.

I've worked the other end too, the client, it's true, you don't listen to all the auditions. If they price to high, you don't listen. Too low, and it looks like you're desperate. You wouldn't believe some of the auditions too, recorded on mobile phones whilst driving (is what it sounded like!) The audition is your calling card, it needs to be the best it can be...I could go on!


John Anthony Davidson
12/12/2014 at 8:39 AM
A lot of good advice; wish I could hear your voice. Bet you'd do a great reading of this article.
Caroline Beverley
2/25/2013 at 7:43 AM
All good stuff. It would have been nice to warn people about paying a subscription to websites like voices123. They are a big investment especially for a newby, a lot of the voiceovers that use them never reach their subscription amount in paid jobs. It's tough out there! You are probably better off using websites that you audition for free and pay a commission if you get a job. You could have to produce 100 and over auditions to secure 1 job. Why should voiceover artists have to pay to audition, it's wrong and this is another area where we can be taken advantage of.

1/16/2012 at 7:29 PM
Ernest Paul Jones
10/24/2011 at 12:02 PM
It was refreshing to read your words of insight into the amazing industry of Voiceover. I am new to the arena of auditioning properly. But, I am not knew to auditioning. I have been following an agency that means the best. But, they are not capable of giving me the necessary instructions to get the appropriate plateaus of my quest for success as a great Vo talent. Your words are informative as well as inspiring. I now feel, I can give a better product in all that I am doing. And I hope you continue to motivate others...
Jennifer Hunter
10/6/2011 at 9:37 AM
Susan Berkley,
Everything you have shared is such good advice, and well said. Thank you for reminding us to put ourselves in the shoes of the client. I think we do better remembering this - being someone we would want to hire.
Jennifer Hunter
Sarah Matta
3/29/2011 at 7:16 AM
Great article for a newbie like me. I haven't started auditioning or marketing yet, just finishing up some classes and recording my first demos next month. I love reading these kind of articles and gaining as much knowledge as I can to be successful in this industry. Thank you!!
John Florian
3/11/2011 at 8:17 AM

To market yourself, network, promote yourself and stay in touch with producers and clients in many, many ways - choose what you feel comfortable with. At this VoiceOverXtra page, go to the SEARCH box at the top left and enter MARKETING. Plenty of advice there.

3/11/2011 at 7:23 AM
What is the most effective way to market yourself other than through auditions?
Howard Ellison
2/5/2011 at 2:15 PM
40 takes! If I haven't cracked it by the third, I know it's a lost cause. Better devote the time to a different audition, or more practice.
Jennifer O'Neill
1/13/2011 at 7:52 AM
Very helpful. Thanks for the tips -- especially about vocal hydration.
12/18/2010 at 11:37 AM
Great mix of info! Even if some review, lets us know the common need for doing certain things to be successful. I liked learning to drink water two hours ahead; didn't know that. Also making the client's words yours a distinctive art - even if one's sound and delivery pretty good. Thanks for so many practical reminders!
Donald Beckwith
8/19/2010 at 10:42 AM
Good stuff. I've heard most of it before, but reminders never hurt. The most important thing I believe Susan says regards taking someone else's words and making them your own, in addition to getting your voice out of your way. That last is the hardest thing for me.
Helen Jaubert
8/18/2010 at 10:21 PM
I find your website is indispensible and an absolute necessity for my everyday motivation! Susan's advice is a"power house" of knowledge ... please make Susan part of your everyday news on this website ....
Thank you for all this wonderful advice - now I just need to apply it!
8/16/2010 at 9:27 AM
Voice exercise grooms the person's voice. It also streamlines the airway system, and increase the power of lungs. Therefore, it activates the body immune system to live a healthy life. Everybody needs to do voice exercise after 30. Only a good voice coach can provide you with a right exercise.
John Davenport
3/24/2010 at 9:25 AM
Susan is great! Right on in her comments/suggestions! She has so many great tips to offer. Here's one I learned from her. STAND UP when you call someone back on the phone. ....your volume will be better and you can sound more confident! See ... little things like that ... thank you for bring her to the site!
Jack Hamlett
2/20/2010 at 6:23 PM
Very interesting for a new person to the industry. Good tips that everyone needs and should know before going forward. Please keep up the great online info.
Evelyn Lerner Grossman
2/12/2010 at 8:10 AM
Wonderful advice I will use for myself and my speech and voice training practice for voice-over clients.
clifford english
1/13/2010 at 8:37 AM
This information is priceless. I have been helped.
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