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VOICE ACTING
Corporate Voice Overs: Your Way
To Stay Busy At The Mic In 2013


Note: The authors present full-day Corporate Narration workshops - strictly about corporate narrations - in Houston on May 26 and Dallas on June 30. For details and to register, please visit www.VoicesVoices.com.


By Jim Conlan and Bettye Zoller
Voice Talents and Trainers

If we had our druthers, we'd be doing fun radio and TV commercials.

Some of us remember when we used to laugh and have so much fun at the mic in a recording studio (not ours at home), clowning around with our VO pals voicing commercials with sometimes six voices on one spot!

But us and our druthers have parted company. Hardly anyone can afford more than one voice per spot anymore, or is putting effort into writing and producing fun commercial scripts. If you're willing to change your druthers, though, you might find quite a bit of new voice over work in corporate narrations.

UNPRECEDENTED SCALE

Thanks to today's fast-paced and widespread communication needs, corporations and institutions are providing voice over opportunities on an unprecedented scale. This includes projects from companies, hospitals, non-profits, financial institutions and more.

Here are the major categories and some examples of each:

Corporate Imaging: "Who We Are."
 
  • "The largest oil and gas refining company in the world."
  • "The oldest financial institution in Rhode Island."
  • "Clean Air and Water is Our Top Concern!"
Product / Process Demonstrations: "What We Are Doing." Examples:
  • "New methods of hydraulic fracturing."
  • "Non-surgical angioplasty."
  • "The New Laser Procedures for Acne."
Training: "How-to-do-it."
  • "Operating the Model 501 Drill Press."
  • "Intake procedure for family counseling."
  • For Home Depot: "How to Build a Tile Patio Yourself!"
Internal Communications (employees and contractors): "What you need to know."
"Understanding your new 401k plan."
"Avoiding harassment in the workplace."
"Fire Safety at Work."

"Facilitating" Communications: "How We Do Things."
  • "Massage and physical therapy options at Sunnydale Resort and Spa."
  • "How we'll be taking care of your child at Children's Hospital."
  • "Giving Yourself Insulin Shots at Home."
  • "Talking to Your Teen About Safe Sex."  
HOW TO GET THIS WORK

Like any other opportunity, corporate voice over jobs won't usually find you. You have to be ready to go out and get them.
Please note: in 2013 it is an absolute prerequisite that you have your own studio and know how to run it.
Here are some suggestions for obtaining this narration work.

Prepare Yourself. Find lots of examples like those listed above. Practice them. If you're not sure of your abilities, get professional coaching.          

And we're very much in favor of "the niche demo." For example, a medical demo, a home improvement demo, etc. (Ask VoiceOverXtra about getting the recording of The Niche Demo webinar.

Get Help. When you're ready, get help producing a distinct and professional corporate/institutional demo. This is not a re-purposed narration or commercial demo.

If you don't have local talent representation, shop your demo to local talent agents. If you do have an agent, make sure they have your latest corporate demo.

Yes, we're noticing some corporate and industrial narration jobs advertising for voices on the Internet's "pay to play' sites, but the pay is lower than you could get yourself if you sold a job. - 

If you don't have a website, create one. And make sure people know you do corporate voice overs. Post samples of your work on the website.

We favor keeping corporate narration separate from other types of voice over work on the website.

Establish a solid network plan. Keep your friends informed, both directly and indirectly through the social-media platforms. Constantly strive to expand your network. Remember, it's not only who you know ... but who they know.

Rely on yourself for jobs. Contact production companies and managers of in-house A/V (Audio Visual) departments. Some corporations maintain "in-house" advertising agencies (Radio Shack and Pier One are two examples).

Send them your demo. Tell them what you're capable of doing. If you have experience, describe highlights of the work you've done.

Connect with the online talent/project matching services. If you're ready to audition a lot, you might connect with projects as far away as India or Japan. Voices with "neutral" American accents are preferred.

Maintain contact with people who hire you. Chances are they'll hire you again ... but they need reminding. Send them updates on what you're doing: low-pressure, but effective.

Always use postcards, never letters sealed in envelopes. That way, the recipient sees your name and info even if he or she then pitches it 'in the round file.'

Above all, find out how you fit into this complex and multi-faceted opportunity. Pursue what you're good at, and avoid what you're not.

Corporate voice overs may not always be as fun as commercials ... in fact, the scripts often are dull and dry. But spending the money you make sure is FUN!
------------------
ABOUT JIM   
Jim Conlan is a copywriter, director, producer, and popular voice over talent and coach based in Houston. In a voice over career that has spanned more than 30years, he has voiced both commercial and non-commercial projects for local, regional, and national companies, and been a spokesperson or principal voice for clients such as Jiffy Lube, Chevron, NASA, Halliburton, Diamond Shamrock, and dozens more.
Web: www.provomaster.com
Email: provomaster@yahoo.com

---------------------
ABOUT BETTYE 
Acclaimed as one the legends of the voice over industry, Bettye Zoller is a voice actor, coach, vocalist and owner of the VoicesVoices voice over production and training company. She began her career as a child actor on the MGM movie lot and toured the U.S. as a leading vocalist for many years before targeting voice overs. She conducts workshops in home city Dallas and world-wide, and presents monthly webinars for VoiceOverXtra.
Web: www.VoicesVoices.com
Email: btzol@aol.com


Corporate Narration Seminars - Houston May 26, Dallas June 30: www.VoicesVoices.com


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Comments (1)
Steven
5/2/2013 at 12:47 PM
I must take exception with several of the items in the article.

1. "in 2013 it is an absolute prerequisite that you have your own studio and know how to run it". I agree to a point, but I would also make the case that :
a. as voice talent we should be developing and supporting our locals studios.
b. Why double your efforts. Editing long form work, which the authors agree is a large part of voice work today, can take twice as much time to edit and name files as to record. Then adding in the quality control and your job is full time recording engineer part time VO.

As a full time voice talent for 20 years, with a comfortable income, I refuse to use my home microphone and recording software for anything more than auditions and demos. By hiring a recording studio and an engineer, I am able to spend 4 hours recording audio - have someone proof my work as it is being recorded, then walk away from the studio and have someone edit it and upload it.

Net result is 3 hours of finished audio that I've worked 4 hours on. Not 6 or 8 and I'm not stressed with meeting deadlines etc.

Plus that gives me another couple of hours to look for more work.

Sure, I spend a bit of money on the studio ( generally 25 to 50%) of my gross, but having the support of an engineer allows me to do more of what I'm in this business for....voicework. And has helped me increase my income at least 10% a year for the past 10 years.

Plus, what other business can you think of with a 50-75% profit margin?

2." If you don't have local talent representation, shop your demo to local talent agents. "

I agree, but again with a caveat. After 15 years with my agent ( one of the top in the country.) Only about 20% of my income came from my agent last year. And of that, more than 80% of that was work that I either found or brought to them.

Agents are not the end all be all. They are good for negotiating and billing. But when they represent 600 people from around the country, claiming to be voice talents, they aren't doing much to promote my career on a day to day basis.

And honestly, there are many times I resent bringing my agent a $500 job, having them mark it up $100 (20%) and then giving me $400. Hmmm. They get $200 I get $400 for a job that I found and brought to them. Just for shuffling papers. Plus they get to add my client into their database and market the other 599 voice talents to MY CLIENT.
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