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Listen! If You Can't Follow Directions
You Won't Get The Voice Over Job

By Marc Scott
Voice Actor

Have you ever heard someone explain the difference between hearing and listening?

According the University of Minnesota, "Hearing simply happens. Listening, however, is something you consciously choose to do.”

In other words, there’s a difference!

Recently, I was a voice seeker. And I had a very interesting experience on the other side of the table. Instead of filling the role of voice actor, I had the opportunity to work with a client in casting a voice for a project.

As a talent, I’m used to submitting my audition and then never really knowing what happens next. Unless, of course, I book the job. I don’t know what other talent say. I don’t hear their demos. I never really know what the competition is like.

But this time I found out. And what I discovered was a little disheartening.


I assisted a client with casting a project. I put the information out to a number of people in my network with very simple instructions:
"If you’re interested in this project please simply reply with your contact info and a link to your demo. The client will then be in touch if they’re interested.”
What happened next was really surprising! Less than 20% of the talent that responded to my offer actually listened to what I had said.

The responses I got from talent varied from full-out novels to sales pitches and all points in between.

The vast majority of them did not include demos - one of the VERY SIMPLE instructions I included. A couple of them didn’t even include requested contact information.


As I mentioned, fewer than 20% of the respondents actually followed the instructions I offered.

Which means that 80% of the respondents got tossed in the trash immediately.

In some ways, having people not listen to and follow simple instructions made my job as the middleman easier. I was able to eliminate a huge portion of the participants pool with one swift and easy step.

On the other hand, it was embarrassing for me to see that many people - who call themselves professional - screw up something as simple as providing contact info and a demo.


It’s not enough to hear what your clients are asking for. You’ve got to really listen. Read the instructions thoroughly. Follow them entirely. When in doubt, ask for clarity.

It’s not enough to hear what your clients are asking for. You’ve got to really listen.

If you’re wondering why you’re not booking work, this could very well be one of the reasons why!
Marc Scott has been involved in broadcasting and voice over since 1995, including work in radio and television, and hosting the number 1-rated Afternoon Drive show in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. "When I’m not recording my latest voice over job you can likely find me at the fire hall: I’ve been a volunteer firefighter since 2000, or playing with power tools."


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Comments (5)
11/26/2013 at 4:55 PM
Why not just go thru a talent agency?
Susan Bernard
11/26/2013 at 12:02 PM
Your post is a great reminder to pay attention to detail. It does make a difference. However, I am frequently dismayed by people (frequently fellow industry pros) who become upset, impatient or rude if I ask for a clarification or information. Often my request for more clarity goes unanswered and I'm left to guess what is in the mind of the client and that can be beyond frustrating.
11/26/2013 at 10:43 AM
My goodness. That is really interesting and if I've ever done that...I am totally embarrassed. Certainly will make me more aware of what a client says. Thanks for posting this.
Lee Saunders
11/26/2013 at 10:35 AM
Hello Marc,

Ah, people are in so much of a rush to get a gig, they neglect to find out what to do to get it.

I see numb-skulls (blunt but to the point) a lot on a certain networking site. A CD requests talents to send an e-mail, but instead they post threads leading to demos and websites. If someone can't follow basic instructions, there's a very good chance they'll not be able to follow direction.

Another one is when a CD asks for NATIVE speakers of a certain accent. INCOMING! 75 questions asking whether an impersonation of the accent is okay.

To me all that looks like is desperation to get a gig, and if I were the CD, I'd trash them, too.

All the best,
Ken Budka
11/26/2013 at 9:07 AM
Sounds like an eye-opening experience, Marc, and a great reminder to master the basics in business. Before you go leaping forward with expensive demos and the latest gadgetry, make sure to communicate clearly and focus on the client and their needs. Be professional, follow-up and deliver solutions to these challenges.

It's also energizing to know that in any audition situation, even if there are dozens of candidates submitting auditions already, you are really only up against a few serious contenders. Be a master of the basics, be a contender.
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