Client Horror Stories: Beware & Prepare
Because They WILL Happen To You ...
October 14, 2013
Note: The author presents the highly-rated session, Your Signature Personality - Find And Voice It, at the online Voice Over Virtual conference, continuing online now through November 30, 2013. For details, please visit www.VoiceOverVirtual.com.
By Deb Munro
Voice Talent and Coach
You got the job! You’re at the mic, you have the script and you did the audition. You know exactly what you did in the audition and you are ready with your character.
You open your mouth and go through the first read. The client says, "Great! Now let’s try one just a bit more natural”
You think, "No problem.” So You take another pass, and yet again the client asks for it to be more natural - "Just like you were speaking to a friend.”
Again, another passage. And still, no celebrations of happiness.
The client is not getting what they want, and you are starting to panic!
WHAT DO THEY WANT?
What do they mean? What do they want you to do? You think you're reading it like you would speak to a friend.
This is all too common in our VO world. And the outcome can be in our favor or tear apart our flesh and everything we stand for.
Then the "Itty Bitty Shitty Committee” kicks in. "I would have, I should have, I could have” - but you didn’t.
Face it, you didn’t give the client the read they had in their head! Why? Well, that is the trick answer, and it’s not always a treat.
IT GETS TRICKY ...
There are so many reasons why you might not have nailed a read, or for the client to be unhappy - or even worse, difficult. For instance,
We enter this industry thinking we are suppose to be perfect, and when we don’t meet the perfection required of us, we can crumble and fall.
This is something YOU MUST prepare for. It’s not a matter of "IF” but rather, "WHEN” you will experience it. So I hope the stories that follow will prepare you for some of the biggest nightmares of your life. It's important to know how to handle these situations.
THE FURNITURE JOB
This happened at the start of my career. I was in LA and was cast in a job from an audition through a company called "The Big Fish Voice Company.”
This project was for a major furniture company, was a great campaign to nab, and The Big Fish Agency truly went out of their way to accommodate me while I was in LA.
It was an ISDN session (which means $300 an hour that the client has to pay to the studio), so there was a ton of money riding on this one.
They loved my audition –-so that is what I prepared for. It was nice and natural and personable, as I’d studied so hard to master.
NOT WHAT THEY WANTED
When we did the session they kept asking me to add more energy - so I did. By the time they were done, I was doing an over-the-top broadcasting radio read, which was NOT AT ALL like what they requested.
So because I wasn’t expecting to go there, I kept adding back in my natural qualities (I’d spent enough to learn them, so by God I was certainly going to practice them).
I was hating everything about the session and how the spot sounded. In fact, if my head wasn’t so stuck in NATURAL at the time, I think I would have been fine.
If they could have said, do what you used to do before you got training, or we want an old JOHNNY RADIO read, I would have nailed it on read one.
LOST THAT JOB
Unfortunately my head was stuck in one direction and the client's aggravation at me for not getting what they want, took me into my nerve mode and my need to impress - pretty much the kiss of death.
I lost the job. I was devastated, to say the least. Knowing what I know now, it was the client's direction and the confusion of going from natural to broadcasty.
But one never knows. And all we can do is learn from each experience.
Remember though, it’s not always the client's fault! So we have to find our lessons in each experience.
BEATING MYSELF UP
Even recently I lost a job - not being able to get the read the client wanted - and I walked away beating myself up and questioning whether I should be voicing or not.
Then I confided in a friend/colleague, got a bit more training and understanding into the incident, and got back to normal.
You have to protect yourself. Don’t allow them to walk all over you or treat you like a walking Zombie. Stand up for yourself when you know you’re not being treated humane, but at the same time, prepare for these kinds of situations.
Realize its not always YOU, and that you can’t please everyone.
LISTEN, LEARN, TRUST YOURSELF
I’ve gotten really good at listening, trying to learn my place in the room and realize that I’m just the talent.
I’m not a powerhouse that is free of error. I’m human, and I too will make mistakes, just as they do.
My favorite way to get through this and not live in the "Itty Bitty Shitty Committee” is to say, "I did the best possible job I could, under those particular circumstances” and "Gosh Darn it, I like me”! (Okay that’s a Stuart reference, but I couldn’t resist. )
Trust yourself and brace yourself. If you’re prepared for the inevitable and realize it happens to everyone at some point - it’s easier to accept and move on to the next one!
Deb Munro is a leading voice talent, coach, and owner of Chanti Productions, in the Vancouver, B.C., Canada area. She offers private voice over coaching by phone and Skype, and MIC 'N ME and Double Diva workshops on voice acting, business and demo prep in many Canadian cities.
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