How Did I Manage to Mis-Quote the Client

For the first time in my five years as a full time voice over actor I mis-quoted a client. In truth, I was extremely tense Einstein Quote About Mistakesabout the election results so if I did not make a mistake here I could have made one some where else. A new client found me on LinkedIn for a toy project. I have a tight NDA, but I can say that it’s a toy and right away my voice seemed like the perfect fit for this project.

The first mistake that I made was that I opened the script on my phone. I was in my booth doing an eLearning job. I think we all feel that sense of urgency to reply promptly so that the client doesn’t go to another option, and I had so many screens open in my booth, that it seemed easier at the time to look at this on my phone. The client sent an excel spread sheet. At the top of the spread sheet were four highlighted very short sentences. I looked at the spreadsheet several times, did not see any other content, and each time I checked it was on my phone. It was my understanding that these highlighted lines were the entire script.

To be clear, I am often sent very small scripts in different genres, so this in no way seemed odd. I do a lot of commercial work, and there are a lot of short, 15 second, commercials. Even in eLearning, sometimes I am cast for one short role in a module, so this short script for the toy in no way seemed unusual. When I replied to the client, I was very clear to outline my standard toy rates, my toy revision rates, and what my quote would be for this job given how short the script was. I explained that I would provide two versions and the audio would be in what ever form they needed, fully edited, and ready for use. The client responded that they would be moving forward in the coming days.

How I Realized My Error

When the client had their final script, they emailed me an NDA and a contract. Then they emailed me the finalized Bruce Lee Quote About Mistakesscript which was again an excel spreadsheet. In the email they confirmed the initial rate. To my horror, I realized immediately that I had under-quoted the client significantly. The script was not 4 lines, It was 154 lines. Further, they needed the files split which was also not included in the initial bid. My heart sank. I never want to disappoint a client or to make their job harder. I genuinely thought the job was the first four lines. I am not clear whether or not the client was also questioning if the bid covered the full scope of the project by the way their email was written, but I still had to re-quote. With all the work I had, I would be spending a good deal of time on this and could not do the job for the rate I had initially quoted. I felt, though, like a buffoon.

How did I Decide How to Handle My Mistake

Immediately I messaged my accountability group with whom I speak to all the time, every day. I trust these women Maya Angelou Quote about Mistakesmore than anyone to lead me in the right direction. When they did not respond within minutes, I called them. Two of them were actually together at that moment, and they helped me draft a thoughtful and sincere email to address my error and revise the quote. It began with “I do apologize but…” I felt awful about doing it but I also could not live with myself if I did not. Interestingly, it was the opinion of two of the others in the group that the error was mine and I should do the job at the lower rate. They pointed out that I risked both losing the client and that if this client knows other clients I risked tarnishing my reputation. I weighed my options and sent the email with the revised quote.

What I would do Differently Next Time

  • I would open the email on my iMac.
  • I would not be in such a rush to reply. The few minutes could save a lot of aggravation later.
  • If I was unclear about the scope of work I would call the client.
  • I would ask more questions before doing the quote.
  • I would give a tiered quote (which I often due) that covers different lengths of work so that I am covered either way.

How it Worked Out

Make Mistakes and Move OnThe client was not pleased when she got the email with the revised quote she had to go back to both her team and to the clients for approval. The next day I heard that they were ready to move forward. I ended up having to call the client. When I downloaded the excel spreadsheet, I had some formatting issues as a Mac user. I called the client and they were extremely helpful. It was actually great to speak with them and have yet another opportunity to apologize and let them know that I genuinely did not intend to make things difficult for them. Our chat went very well and I am extremely thankful to have laid what I hope is the foundation of a good working relationship.

What Voice Over Client Correspondence is Appropriate during a pandemic?

As a small business owner, this is a very personal choice, but to me the line is extremely clear: the only unsolicited  communication that should happen during a pandemic is genuine, caring correspondence. Period. If you have spent years of your life building and maintaining client relationships so that each booking is not a one-off, but instead a life-long client relationship, than be a friend and check in. But when I say this I mean genuinely check in with care and concern in your heart. If your heart isn’t in it, don’t do it.

Why is it wrong to try to see yourself right now?

If you are reaching out to folks you have already worked with, odds are they know as soon as they see your name and your email that you are a voice actor. If they needed you for a booking they would have asked. I have been checking in on clients. At radio stations, the program directors and operations managers are working with skeleton crews and their limited crews are running multiple stations and doing the jobs of many.  They are working long hours just to keep radio going. Other clients tell me with great concern how their business has been decimated. Those who also do live events have had massive cancellations. So does this seem like the time to ask how their projects are and send a demo? NO.

This is a test…

This time period will pass. Some companies we have worked with will exist when this is over, and others won’t. If you have clients, actual clients that you have worked with repeatedly, be a friend now. Be supportive. Don’t make it about you. When the pandemic ends, regardless of what is left of their business, do you went to be remembered as a greedy pest or a supportive, kind soul? Only you can decide what your Coronavirus legacy will be, but I would much rather be defined by posting too many pictures of my precious dogs than by stalking my clients in their darkest hour.

The Audition is the Job

As a full-time, professional voice over actor, we all know that the audition is the job. Whether auditioning for an agent, for a pay to play, or directly for a client, booking is based entirely on how good our audition read is. Sure, people who have connections can get doors to open but, ultimately, voiceover is a tough industry with a lot of really talented actors and your auditions have to be really good to stand out against the crowd. Often, hundreds of people will even submit for jobs with minimal pay, so when you are going after the coveted commercial gigs, you really need to wow your clients.  It’s nice if you ask for feedback; but, ultimately, if the listener does not hear what they want in the first four seconds, you will not book that job. That’s it. As someone who has done more commercials than I can count, you need to nail your audition reads. You have to stand out in the beginning. If there is nothing unique about your read, yoo will not book. So here are some things that I think about for commercial reads:

Who is the Client?

Both the person casting and the end client matter. If the client is a well known luxury brand asking for a sophisticated voice and the person casting is an established ad agency with an abundance of options who has asked for a young adult voice, do not go in with your most sultry Kathleen Turner sound hoping to stand out. They want what they want. And when they want sophisticated luxury, don’t give them bubbly and upbeat. I also DO read the specs. I have had people tell me not to read them. Why on earth would you not read something that the person casting the job has spent time writing? I actually stopped working with a well-respected Los Angeles coach again after that person advised me no to do this. I thought it was not a good idea. In this scenario, they are the boss and we are the potential hire. Sometimes the clients ask for two reads and want very different takes in each read. If you don’t read the specs, you won’t know. Now, we all know that sometimes there is a great disparity between what books a job and the end result, so give them the read that books and do not worry about the end result until after you have booked.

Microphone Technique Matters SO MUCH!

There are so many good microphones, and most good microphones are very sensitive. I have a Neumann TLM 103, and the

In this pic you can really see the back side of my Neumann TLM 103, but the position in my booth matters so much! I cannot move it from that side to the other or the sound and audio quality completely changes. In my reads, proximity to the mic also matters a lot!

placement of my mic in my booth matters a lot. My proximity to the mic matters. I have learned that my proximity can be used to evoke very different moods and create a sense of closeness and intimacy. I also have learned that I have to be careful not to fidget during a read, because shifting from side to side will cause irregularities in sound and my mic with pic it all up! A good coach teaches this technique. A good talent listens to their work before they submit. Make sure you listen to your recording and you can hear these subtleties. It would be such a shame to nail the read but lose out because your audio quality is less than pristine. Audio quality is everything, and you are only as good as you sound in this business. If you want your commercial auditions to book, they must sound excellent.

Sometimes the client Just Wants Good Samples- SO GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT!

Four times this week I was emailed for jobs that either wanted very specific demos or samples of work I had done in a specific genre. All were new clients. This is awesome! Either you paid to produce a demo that showcases your best abilities, or you booked a spot because you killed it! Either way it’s a win, so respond immediately before someone else does and show this new client exactly why you are the right one for the job! I keep a lot of such samples accessible via drop box, so that even if I am out and about, I can get them right to a client and they do not have to wait. More importantly, their end person does not have to wait!

Lastly, I want to broaden your thinking of what an audition is. Anytime you put yourself and your voice or samples in front of a client that is an audition opportunity! A phone call, and of course a cold call, gives a client a chance to hear you. A direct email to someone you have met with your demo likewise gives a client a chance to hear you. Meeting someone at a conference or a networking event and talking about why your service is different from that of other voice actors is an in-person audition: you have their undivided attention, they hear your voice, and you are speaking! An audition is not just a read with a script or a demo submitted. Always be prepared with you 30 second elevator shpiel and be proud of who you are and what you do. Sparkle!