How To Ace the Audition #2
Exclusive interviews with voice-over pros for VoiceOverXtra.com subscribers
Beware These Six
Online Audition Killers
Voice Talent, Coach & Consultant
The Great Voice Company
By John Florian
"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:
1. POOR RECORDING QUALITY
"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."
2. REGIONAL ACCENTS
"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."
3. MOUTH NOISE
"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."
4. WRONG VOICE FOR THE JOB
"Perhaps you don't meet the job's criteria – like your age, or your voice type being flat out wrong for the casting."
5. POOR PERFORMANCE
"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 (www.m-w.com). 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."
To contact Susan Berkley:
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