Your “signature voice,” and other TalkTime! pointers


Do you listen to Edge Studio’s weekly TalkTime! call-in each Sunday? It’s an open phone forum, each week dealing with a different voice-over topic. Recently the topic was the Commercials genre, and participants discussed quite a bit.

You can listen to the entire hour discussion at EdgeStudio.com, but in particular we’d like to expound a bit on some of the points that were made about prospecting for clients, how to stand out from the crowd. As so often is the case during TalkTime!, these pointers apply to many voice-over genres, not just the topic of the evening.

Clients like to hire people they enjoy working with. The not-so-fine line between being anonymous and becoming a pest is found by simply being friendly and making the first move. Then you are not just another line in the Inbox. Rather than send a generic cold-call email or letter, learn something about your prospect first. What audio product or ad campaign of theirs do you particularly like, and why? It might be that you can make a succinct, valid case as to why you would be a good match for that sort of recording. Or you might offer a brief compliment – short and sweet – from your perspective. But it’s also flattering simply that you took the time to learn about them – because most people don’t. As TalkTime! moderator (and Edge Studio Managing Director) Graeme Spicer noted, “There’s a pretty close correlation between the work you put into it and the amount of jobs that are going to come from it.”

In your cold contact, say when and how you’ll follow up ... and remember to do it. If possible, give fresh news or include another insight in your follow-up, not just “this is my follow-up.” Another way to be enjoyable is to accept direction and criticism gracefully, always considering it as constructive (or, instructive, even if you take it with a grain of salt). Work efficiently, but with good humor. And remember to send a thank you note. If you don’t hear back, not to worry. Your name will be fresh in the mind of your prospect, and that’s the objective – to be fresh in their mind when a job that you’re right for develops.

Know your brand. What is your “money voice”? That’s what you should be selling. Some voice actors even have a pseudonym or position statement. Two that were mentioned were Doug Turkel, who bills himself as the “Voiceover UNnouncer” [http://dougturkel.com/] and Ed Victor, who’s known as “The Big Gun.” [http://www.edvictorvo.com/]

Cold-calling is important to growing your client list. But another source of prospects is companies that you personally do business with. A participant called this “warm calling.” It makes sense, since you’ve already done the “research,” and they might even be beholding to you. At least, they’ll know you understand their product.

A great source of practice commercial scripts is to record and transcribe (write down) existing commercials of the sort you want to do. (An online source mentioned is iSpot.TV. Then record yourself doing those scripts. If you’re just starting to learn voice over, you can learn by emulating the actual voice talent. It will give you a sense of pacing, timing, etc. But don’t just do that. Know your brand. Get that produced version out of your head and do it as if you were working from scratch. What is your interpretation? What would be our tone of voice, your pacing, your mannerisms? Where would you pause, how do you naturally sound? Sometimes it helps to put the script away for awhile, so it seems fresh to you. Or record it, then listen a week later. Does your recording still sound as good and fresh as you thought?

Incidentally, one of the participants (Connie Terwilliger) suggested a good way to determine what is your natural voice – record yourself just talking naturally with a good friend. This is something we’ve recommended from time to time in Edge Studio’s Weekly Script Recording Contest results. Have you entered the contest yourself yet? It’s fun, easy, educational, and there are valuable Edge Studio prizes. Click for this week’s contest script and past discussions.

And, when producing your demo, be sure it reflects the qualities that make you distinctive. A good demo coach will respect your individuality and help bring out and reflect the qualities that are most saleable yet make you special. They’re all part of your “signature voice.”

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