guided voiceover session

Between Generations…

When I was in high school, a movie that was supposed to epitomize our generation, Generation X, came out. “Reality Bites” was supposed to be about us. The problem, which my sister and I have discussed at length, is that we just miss being Gen-xers and we just miss being millennials. How much of a problem this is I’m not sure, but I loved the drama of reality bites and wondered why my life was so lacking of such problems. As a teen, I thought this was clearly because I was really not a Gen- xer, not understanding at the time that it was Gen-X in Hollywood.

But what I now appreciate is that being born in between periods gives me an advantage, I hope. I easily identify with and relate to people a little older and a little younger, finding a lot in common with both, and this is essential in helping be the voice of a brand. As a full time, professional voiceover actor who does a lot of commercial work on tv, radio, and internet, I want to make sure that I deliver what my client wants: an advertising package that is memorable!

Get their attention

When my sister and I used to get in and out of taxis in college in NYC, somehow we often said hello and greeted our driver in unison. This in turn would call attention to our high and youthful voices which were then typically commented on. I never minded, especially since it has now turned into a career. That was the beginning of getting their attention. You want to pick a voice to represent your brand that people associate with it in a positive way.  When I do youtube videos for the New Jersey lottery, and I get to say the famous tag line “Anything can happen in Jersey,” this is my chance to give my spin on the brand. I imagine being the girl at the party or in the casino that is so fabulous that everyone wants to be with her, the life of the party that no one can resist, and that is the sound I project. As the voiceover talent, it is our job to self direct and coordinate with our clients to create the right image for that brand.

Keep their attention

Casting the right voiceover actor allows you to get brand recognition.  Using the same voice for a campaign instead of hiring talents for one-offs allows them to get to know the brand. This brand recognition helps you carefully define the relationship you want your clients to have. This can happen very commonly with on-camera talents, but it happens quite a lot in voiceover as well. For example, I have been working on an on going campaign for a hospital in Florida. It is very important that all of the reads for these local tv spots be the same: warm, comforting, trust worthy, and reliable. That voice is now associated with the brand. When I work with the producer, the only direction he needs t give me at this point is how to pronounce the different names in the spots, because we need to maintain consistency for each commercial. The viewers in that area recognize what the ad is for as soon as they hear my voice, and that is brand recognition.

Stay Current

Choosing the right voice will not only enable you to draw in your dream clients, but it will help you reach across generations from millennials to baby boomers. Why have major brands like Cadillac chosen a millennial female voice for their national tv campaigns recently? Because they know this voice reaches across generations and has universal appeal. The millennial, conversational read is the sought after commercial read of the moment, where it sounds like you are the girl-next-door talking to a friend. If you want to reach your dream clients and keep them listening this is who you need to cast for voiceovers.

Maintaining Relationships

If you want to maintain a lasting relationship with your clients, then you need to cast a voiceover talent who will work hard to maintain a relationship with you! In order to have brand continuity, a professional voiceover talent who can truly deliver will work hard to get to know what you are looking for during the duration of a campaign to bring out all of the nuances of your brand. She will work hard to deliver the best quality audio and let you know that you can rely on her repeatedly. And in the end you will be proud that you chose so well. You want new. You want fresh. But at the end of the day you also want reliable.

It’s not about the voice…

The voiceover is never about the voice. There are so many of us out there who can do the same job, and there are a lot of talented folks. And it is not even about the studio, because we do all have different studios that give you different finished audio. It is about the result of the voiceover that we leave you with, the impact it has on your brand and on your marketing. You need a talent who understands that!

Laura Schreiber Voiceover Actor walking her dog! Come On, Just One Line

I was walking my dog and ran into one of my friendly neighbors working on her flowers. She asked me how my “whole voiceover thing” was going. Then she did what commonly happens. Krista said, “Can you just do one of your lines from a recent job?” This actually happens all the time, at dinner parties, doctor’s appointments, temple- folks ask to hear my work. They want it live, unscripted, in the moment. This is funny for several reasons. While I have been trained in improv, that is not typically part of what I do, especially in most of my commercial work. A very small percentage of both my auditions and my actual bookings ask for a voiceover actor who can improv. Next, all of my work is done with a script. I seldom memorize the script. There are often in-session script changes that require me to mark the script with the new lines as I go. So these impromptu performances? Well, they do not represent my actual work. But, it does get at the heart of what is really being asked: that folks I run into understand that I have found my passion in an exciting industry and I have the fortune of booking a lot of commercial work as a full-time, professional voiceover actor. I have found such joy in the 15, 30, and 60 second commercial spots full of emotional twists and plot turns and voiceover for commercial are my thang.

On the radio, ohhh on the radio

Since I started in voiceover, I have booked a lot of voiceover commercials. Perhaps this is because I am super expressive and radio is so different than tv. Without the visual for the listener to understand, as the commercial voiceover actor, all of the story is in the voice. The change for discontent to the solution to one’s problem, the shift from happy to vulnerable, it all has to be audible, and I eat those scripts up. From Am to FM to satellite to Pandora to Spotify, I enjoy all sort of commercial spots. Even the tags are fulfilling to me! I particularly love those fast-paced disclaimers that come at the end of ads. Whether it is a 15 second spot or a 60 second spot, I very much enjoy working on the script and figuring out what I am saying and why I am saying it. I get so much out of these commercial reads.

My Uncle Heard Me…..

Whether it is a one off or a campaign, local, regional, or national, I still get so excited to book television commercials at all levels! I have had the fortune to book a few campaigns in Florida where my Aunt Jody and Uncle Mark live, and they have seen the spots run which is extremely fulfilling to me. Often friends and family will comment that I don’t sound like myslef, or that they did not recognize me when I am on tv. I’m not sure if that is a compliment or not, but I am super happy and bubbly in my daily life, and not all scripts are written that way, so as a voiceover actor it is my job to play the role that I am playing in each commercial. I typically have a warm, conversational tone and I try to make each spot sound believable and sincere. As a professional voiceover actor in commercials, it is my job to bring the client their vision for the script and offer different options for the read. There are typically so many right ways to do it each time. I am so happy to be cast in each commercial, as long as the client is happy in the end that is all that matters.

Hello Again:)

In both radio and tv commercials, my greatest joy as a voiceover actor is the opportunity to work with clients again. Whether it is a producer or casting director, I love working with the same folks again and again. This does not mean I assume what they want or need on a project. But, I am always delighted that they are pleased enough with my work to use my voice for another commercial. Whether these clients needed guided sessions via ipDTL, Source Connect, or ISDN; or, they had me record and submit the work independently, their repeat use of me means they were happy and I more than met their needs. I am going for over joyed every single time I deliver the audio.

Staying in the Game

So, in this ever changing industry, with so many great talents going after the same gigs every day, how do I keep up? I believe the answer lies with on-going professional development. Just as doctors and lawyers must, so do professional voiceover actors.  I work with private coaches and I go to conferences. Often some of the rosters that I am on also bring in coaches who are top in our field to train us. I take advantage of all of these opportunities so that I have the confidence to know that every day I am bringing the best I can into my commercial reads.

It’s funny that I spend so much energy to be careful to mask my natural Philadelphia accent, which just seems to flow from within. Just imagine the horror if I had recorded the commercial for Culligan Water as Culligan Wooder as I grew up saying. But regional dialect aside, I do accents in my work quite regularly.

I have family in London so I find doing a generic British accent comes quite easily. I am one of the voices on the UK Tampax channel,, and just get my nephews  in my head and out it comes, which sounds really funny when talking about Tampons. I can differentiate between central London and South London, but the way my family sounds is my go to British accent.

I have also worked in a hispanic accent. I had to do a spot for Pandora radio as a Latina girl speaking English.  Although Pandora has quite an accomplished bi-lingual roster, they needed someone who sounded solidly 13, and that was me. So, I went with somewhere in between Sophia Vergara and Selma Hayek and I gave them a few versions. As the producer himself was Latino I was so nervous to be accurate and not make it charactery. I gave them my standard three takes and it worked!

I have also worked in an array of regional American accents, from generic Southern to New York.  What do I enjoy the most? When my family listens to the spot and is waiting for me to come and then they figure out they have been listening to me all along! Sometimes they say that my voice sounds deeper or that they were confused. I love it. I love that just a subtle change can throw even the people who know me best.

So you’re a newbie. You’ve found your passion! Wonderful. The problem is, the pursuit of your dream doesn’t come easy and you want to work with the best in the business to get your foot in the door. Here are some ideas until you earn or save enough money to finance your private coaching sessions:

  1. Listen to podcasts of known coaches.
  2. Watch youtube videos.
  3. Organize a group of talents and create a class with a coach.
  4. Look for actual voiceover classes- there are so many of them and they are outstanding!
  5. Find a practice partner who is at least at your level or slightly better and work with them often.

Ultimately, if voiceover is the only thing in the entire world that you can imagine spending your life doing, than you will not let anything prevent you from achieving these goals. If having a coach and doing a demo is essential, then you will come up with the money. If your dream had been to buy a franchise of Dunkin Donuts and you wanted to make donuts, you would have found a way to invest. Well, in voiceover we need to invest in ourselves. There is no better way to build a strong foundation than with good coaching, and  if you do any of the above suggestions as preparation, any coach will appreciate that.

  1. Did your voiceover talent have coaching?
  2. Do they pursue on-going professional development?
  3. What is their studio setup/equipment?
  4. What it their policy on revisions/pickups?
  5. What is their turnaround time?

 Put simply, the answers to these questions will tell you a lot about a potential voice over actor! If you take the time to answer these questions before hiring a voice over talent for your next project, you will avoid a good deal of stress and uncertainty!

Why does it matter whether or not a voice over talent ever worked with a coach? Just as teachers have on-going professional development workshops, doctors go to medical conferences, lawyers must take CLCs, voiceover actors must continually work on their craft. This is in part because the needs and expectations of our industry are constantly changing and in part because we can always improve on our skills. Professional feedback and working with others is the only way to bring out the best in our performances. Voiceover talents who are willing to invest in their training are worth your investment. Voiceover actors who have not committed to their own practice are likely not worth your time either.

Does this voiceover talent pursue ongoing professional development? In a fast-paced, evolving industry that has so many new niches, it is so important for a voiceover coach to take advantage of professional development opportunities. In addition to coaching, there are on-line webinars, accountability partners, voiceover conferences, professional groups, podcasts… the list goes on and on. There are also professional organizations like the eLearning Guild and the Children’s Media Association that voiceover talents often belong to in order to enrich their learning and their networking opportunities. All of this matters very much!

The studio set up of your voiceover talent matters A LOT! While there is not one right microphone or or one go to interface, there are some guidelines that are important. It does matter that your talent have a microphone with an interface and not a USB mic. This all pre-supposes that the voiceover artist has their own studio in the first place which is, of course, essential. Rule out and talent who does not have their own studio. The easiest criteria is to look for WoVo approval of the studio.  WoVo is the professional association for voice actors. If the voiceover actor or voice over actress has gone to the trouble of getting WoVo certified, then audio engineers have vetted that talent and their booth is ok to use for your project.

All talents have a policy on pickups and revisions. There is not an industry wide policy, so if it is not made clear in your initial email or phone exchange, simply ask them what their policy is. It is very important that the voice over actress or actor be accessible if you have a last minute script change or if you need a pickup and you need to find out in advance what is included in your initial price and what is not. I cover all performance errors.  The cost for revisions varies depending on how much was paid for the job upfront and the size of the revision. It is also always only considered a revision BEFORE the work has aired. Once the work has aired it is a new job. Still, all of this needs to be fleshed out at the start of the job so that you know whether or not you are within budget.  The GVAA rate guide is a great way to understand industry standard rates, and from there the talents’ policy should make more sense.

Lastly, you should find out what the voiceover talent’s turn around time is. Some voice over actors accommodate RUSH jobs. That means you will have your finished audio delivered within four hours. Typically, unless you are doing a large eLearning module, a 24 hour turn-around is standard. Still, you should never assume anything. When sending out a job, it is best to tell the talent what you need and ask the talent specifically if they can accommodate that.

The best recipe for success is open communications! While there are no guarantees, voiceover actors are typically friendly, outgoing folks, so the more specific you are from the start, the better your project will be!

As a voiceover talent, it is my job to make every word come alive and bring the script to life the way its creator intended. So I have been exposed to some pretty sensational writing, and I can tell you that as of recent sometimes the only word to describe a client who is all kinds of wrong is not even found in the English language. The word we need, instead, is the Hebrew word hutzpah.

If you are not familiar with hutzpah, let me share this mornings hutzpadic story and you will get the gist right away. A new and potential client from another country wrote to me overnight. “Sam” offered me $50 and said that was per role for an explainer video, and for those not in the know standard rates for explainers average from $175-$300 depending on the length. He then went on to explain that $50 was for a 3-4 minute script! Yes, I kept reading, mouth open, in shock. Sam then said that as this script was shorter than usual, he would be willing to offer me $50 for two scripts! This is what I call hutzpah!  If you’re thinking I was unreasonable, read my blog on how long a short recording really takes! 

So, how did I respond? I did actually respond. I thanked him for his interest and sent him a link to the GVAA rate guide, an amazing reference if you don’t know it.

I told Sam that I always maintain industry standards in every single booking, and that when he can afford to pay me a standard rate he should feel free to reach out again. I then wished him all the best in his future endeavors. No need to show hutzpah on my end.

There are a few problems with this situation. In order to send Sam walking, I had to have the confidence in myself and my work that I am worth what I know my work to be worth. I am not afraid to maintain my rates. Sadly, in recent weeks, I have gotten responses from these undesirable clients that they have multiple voiceover actors willing to submit at their rates. As long as folks new to the industry are willing to accept these low rates, they undermine the pay for the rest of us. If you are in this category, you might want to check out Mike often presents about this very topic at voiceover conferences!

Imagine calling a tutor for your child. The tutor is an expert in their field and that is why you trust them to begin with. They have an education in their area, and in the time that you pay them, they are going to share some skills and pass on a specific benefit to your child. You would never have the hutzpah to bargain with them or try to negotiate a different rate. As voiceover talents, we have had countless hours of training, have expensive studios to maintain, and have demos that have cost thousands of dollars. Our rates not only take this into account, but also pay for the session fee and the license for the use of our voice for a given amount of time. Attempting to undermine our rates is just hutzpah and we should never be afraid to maintain our standards.

Laying in bed at night, I watch HGTV mesmerized by their programing. Even with the magnetic personalities of their hosts, who also happen to be good looking, guess what? There are always professional voiceover actors, typically women, narrating the show. Why don’t they have the hosts or realtors doing the voiceover too? Well, they have a product to sell and it takes a pro to do it!

Would you ever cut your hair yourself? Right. What happens if you need new kitchen lighting? Yeah, I’m not that girl either. What about your teeth? Do you have dentist appointments? I hope! So, in case you didn’t know, voiceover actors actually have multiple levels of training. We are trained actors, typically with years of training, acting classes, improv classes, voiceover coaching, and then continued professional development throughout our careers. We also have ongoing extensive technology to do the audio production necessary for our V.O. work. That is what makes us professionals. When I suggest that you hire a pro, I don’t just mean a creative talent who has booked  a lot of work, I am talking about what they bring to the table and why they have the skill set necessary to enhance your real estate project.

On the local level, let’s say you’re a realtor at the top of your game, with a multiple six figure listing who promises excellent marketing to your client. Do you make a youtube video? This video is truly a clients first visit to the home. That is why it is so important not just to have the house look just right, but to have your video sound warm, inviting, and professional.You narrating your own video is the equivalent of a homeowner selling their house without a broker: just like on HGTV, you really need a professional.

According to the National Association of Realtors, 9/10 of buyers rely on the internet. 52% of buyers use the internet as their first step in the buying process, and interestingly YouTube is the most popular video research destination at 51% .  Real estate searches on google have grown 253% in 4 years.  77% of first time buyers drove buy a house they viewed a video of online. Even in an older demographic, the internet is crucial for marketing home sales. 75% of senior home buyers now use the internet to search for a home. Clearly it is in your best interest to market the houses you are selling online.

But marketing them online is not enough. Do you think I’m the only one watching HGTV? No. Folks hear voiceover all the time- in the car, watching tv commercials, on in-show narration. So when you present your video, why not close the deal with top notch marketing done by a passionate pro? Draw them in. If the video is good enough and has the right voice, by the time you show them the house in person your buyer should feel right at home. Be a pro- present a well-orchestrated package that shows that you are a listing agent with savvy, marketing know-how, and creativity, and hire a voiceover actor today!

10. A talent who is well connected in the voiceover community will be an asset to you, particularly if you need to cast other voices for your project in a pinch.

9. A talent who takes feedback well.

8. Someone who takes direction well.

7. Someone who is responsive to calls/emails.

6. Someone with guided session capabilities like ipDTL, source connect, or ISDN.

5. Talent with a clearly stated turn-around time

4. A clear and honest policy on pickups and revisions

3. A pleasant personality that will be a delight to work with.

2. High end equipment in the studio that will enable pristine sound

1. Top notch talent who can do the job you need!

You’re so excited…you’ve made a fantastic video. Great job!  You want your client to be as excited as you are when you present it, and a silent film is probably not what they had in mind. So how do you match your creativity with the ideal voice talent when there is a sea of potential candidates? Let’s delve into what specifically to seek so that you can cast someone who is sure to dazzle all involved with the project.

First, when writing your spec sheet, or description of the job to the voice actors posted online, be as specific as possible. When you had a voice in mind when creating a video, you should look for that voice. If you were looking for a happy, young adult female do not request senior serious females. If you want a male with an announcer read, ask for that.  Lack of specificity as to the voice sought will get you too many applicants and you will be spending time sifting through bunches of auditions that can’t help your project.

If you aren’t quite sure which voice type you want, you should consider your target audience. Are you trying to reach baby boomers or millennials, and who will draw them in the best? Look for the voice that your audience needs to hear.

Next, your spec sheet is written with the description of the job and the voice that you are seeking. Your auditions will start pouring in. You need to listen to them carefully and decide what really matters. You may have asked for a specific naming convention and for the talent to slate, which is the industry term for stating your name at the beginning of the recording. Other companies do not want slating.   In either case, some people seeking talent put a lot weight on the actor’s ability to follow these details. If you are running the show, you should consider how important these details are to you because you will be the one ultimately working with the actor.

Now you are ready to listen to the auditions.  You hit play. What are you listening to the auditions on? Are you listening on, dare I say it, your computer? IPhone headphones? Beats? Regardless of the quality, all of these devices alter the way the voiceover actor’s voice actually sounds.   The unique components of some of these devices provide added bass or filters that don’t always reflect the voiceover actor’s actual sound.

If you are going to be casting a lot of voiceover actors, consider investing in a pair of solid Harlan Hogan or Senheiser head phones.  These head phones, also known as “cans” in the industry, are the best at reflecting the true sound of a voice so that you can hear it the way it will actually sound on your finished product. Once you are really listening, you can hear the voiceover actor and consider several factors. Does the voice fit the spot? Will the voice resonate with your target audience? How is the tone, pace, and overall delivery of the voiceover actor? Hopefully you will be able to narrow down your selection to a final few.

So now that you have some hi-tech equipment, it is time to consider what your voiceover actor is recording on. First, there is a difference between audition quality and broadcast ready samples.  If you know what kind of equipment the talent is recording on and what kind of software they use in their studio, you can make better choices in casting. For example, did they submit an audition recorded on a travel USB mic but at home they have a higher end microphone with interfacing? Maybe you can get lucky and the audition quality was actually recoded on what they would give you for a final product.

Because this is so important to the process, let’s break this down a little bit more. In the most simple basic terms, a USB mic plugs directly into the computer. There are some that sound okay but the top of the line microphones are never, ever USB mics. Then there are microphones.  There are many many different microphones that vary in quality, that plug into interfacing, which, in turn, plugs into the computer. The interface is converting the analog signal of the microphone to the digital signal for the computer. There are all levels of interfacing. 

The more professional the voiceover actor is, the more expensive his or her equipment is likely to be. He or she will also likely have backup equipment and travel rigs when on the road. Typically there is a section on every voice actor’s website where he or she lists what equipment is available in studio and you can factor that into your choice.

Voiceover work can be done on both Macs and PCs. Some editing softwares, like TwistedWave, are exclusive to Mac, but this does not effect the quality of what you get. Some commonly used software programs include Audacity, Adobe Audition, and Protools. The list goes on and on.

What really matters, though, is how proficient your actor of choice is at editing. All of these programs allow us to edit the raw file and make them sound perfect, but you want to pick the talent who has had enough technical training to send you a file that is pristine.

You also might consider what professional memberships and accreditations the voiceover actor has to his or her name. Someone bidding on one of your jobs will not be a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild because, once in SAG, bidding on non-union jobs threatens their union status. You might, however, find non-union voice talents who are members of WoVo, which stands for best practices in the professional voiceover world.  So, any one who has been vetted by other professionals and is a member is a good start for you. Further, they may likely have a stamp on their website with an approval number that shows that his or her studio has been approved by WoVo. This means that the voiceover actor has gone through a lengthy approval process and multiple engineers have tested his or her files and certified the quality of the studio. Casting a voiceover actor with such a certification is a guaranty of a high level of quality for you.

What other certifications might you look for? You can look for Small Business Association certification. A voiceover actor who has taken the time to do this has likely met with a local PTAC officer or has spent a lot of time on registering the business with SAM, providing it with a certification from the federal government. A talent who has gone through these steps is likely to be reliable and someone you can depend on longterm. Talents are often members of local Chambers of Commerce, the E-learning Guild, and other professional organizations that require different certifications. These memberships not only give you a glimpse into the voiceover actors values and interests, but also give legitimacy to the voiceover actor as a small business owner who you can trust for your booking.

Another consideration when working with a voiceover actor is whether or not they offer guided sessions or phone patch. Particularly if you have not worked with this talent before, a guided session or patching in for several minutes can be extremely helpful. Essentially, these interactions are the same as if you are live and in the booth directing the session. The voiceover talent can hear you in his or her head phones but your voice is not picked up on the microphone.

Typical methods of phone patch include but are not limited to Skype, ipDTL, Source Connect, and ISDN. Skype is the most basic and often international clients choose this as they are not familiar with ipDTL or Source Connect which offer much clearer sound. When a talent has either ipDTL, Source Connect, or ISDN, you can assume that they are professional and working with a certain level of sophistication. IpDTL and Source Connect are quite similar and are both in a race to replace, ISDN, the original method of phone patch requiring copper phone wires. For you, though, as long as the talent that you hire has any of these options, you can ask for a guided session.

Some voiceover actors have a minimum session fee to have a guided session, others do not.   Consider how much direction you feel the talent needs before committing to additional cost. The other important thing to understand is that, in voiceover, a live session equates to final delivery so there are usually no revisions or script changes after that point and there will be an extra charge.

Next, it is time to review the voiceover actor’s proposal. You can learn a lot by a talent by looking at the proposal. Just from the proposal you will get a sense of how pleasant and accommodating the voiceover actor will be. Some proposals are thorough and it  seems like he or she will move heaven and earth to make you happy and includes revisions in the quote.  Other proposals are very brief and it is difficult to tell what they include.  You can always dig deeper but you have already gotten a glimpse into attitudes toward customer service.  You also should be considering turnaround time. Some people offer rush service and others simply do not. If you need your project right away it is important to know a talent’s availability.

Even if you have thoroughly looked at the proposal, there is still so more to consider. Before I hire a talent, I would go to his or her website to do some due diligence. Here, as mentioned above, in addition to checking out what equipment is in each studio, you can learn who the client list includes, and view testimonials from past clients. You should factor all of this into your final choice. After all, you are making an investment into this person. You want to enjoy working with him or her, you want your client to be happy, and, in the end, you want to find someone that you can book again and avoid this entire search process.

Once you pick your final choice, you will give the good news to the happy voice actor.  At this time, let him or her know if there was something on the audition that you were really pleased with or if there was a spot on the demo that you want your read to match that. It makes it easy for both of you if you communicate clearly.  Making a spreadsheet to compare these details, including key deadlines, can be helpful putting everyone on the same page.

  Imagine, just by listening carefully to both the auditions and the proposals, you can find the ideal voiceover actor. And from that, your video will soon have the perfect narrator voicing it. And then… do you know what comes next? That email from your client telling you what an amazing job you did!

Are you curious about studio equipment that voiceover actors should have or what their policy on pickups and revisions should be? Look out for the next blog post!

Further Reading:

Home Studio Monitors are Much Better Than Headphones to Catch Noise

Selecting V.O. Home Studio Headphones

“VO Proposal Basics

WoVo Approved Studio

Help for Government Contracting

Certificates of Competency

So you must be thinking, “Wow- money for 30 seconds of work, sweet gig.” Well- if only it were that simple. It is a sweet gig because because most of us friendly folks in voiceover would never spend all of our waking hours in a padded foam booth alone if we didn’t LOVE what we do, so in that sense the work is great. And it’s great in another sense- most voiceover talents are happy about every job we book. Whether we are newbies just starting out or well-established professionals, every booking is something we are proud of, so in that sense every 30 second spot is something to celebrate. But does a 30 second commercial- whether for tv, radio, or the web- or a 60 second spot- actually take that long to do? Heavens no!

When a booking comes in, there are specs from our client telling us when they needed it back and what kind of sound they are looking for. We also learn the usage- will there be visuals side by side enhancing the audio or will it just be our voice on the radio? It makes a difference. Whether the client needs it back in 3 hours or in 24 hours, we have to break down the script. We mark it up and begin to digest what it’s really about. A script that comes to me about a cleaning supply item sold at Target is not likely about the detergent, right? It’s more likely about the needs of the young mom or her busy life or the solution that this product will provide. Once we have connected with the copy, there is a business side to our work. Every talent handles this differently. I invoice every job so that means as soon as I submit a finished recording I immediately follow up my email with an invoice. Some talents do it once a week. But we have to keep track of our own billing and accounts receivable and that is a time consuming piece of the puzzle.

Then we move on to the recording. Depending on what kind of production the client wants, you can record on different software. If they do not need music or sound effects added, I keep it simple and prefer to use a program called TwistedWav which was created specifically for voiceover recording on Macs. Typically for a commercial I give my client 3 takes, a version A, B, and C. I try to vary these by tone, pace, and word emphasis. When I am ready to record I set up my named files and am ready to go with my marked script. Depending on how comfortable I am, it can take anywhere from 10-40 minutes to complete this. Some clients then want the recordings sent raw, some want them fully edited, and I am happy to provide both if that is their preference.

There is an exception to this process and that is when clients ask for a guided session. A guided session allows the client to feel as if they are there in the booth with me when in fact I only hear them in my headphones! I can record and the mic will not pickup the client’s voice as they give feedback live and in the moment. While there is a minimum fee for such sessions, the client is guaranteed to have all the takes they need and the guided session is considered final delivery with no revisions or retakes included in the price.

After I record I typically send a follow-up email summary describing the work that I sent them and letting the client know that I am there if they need anything more for the job. I also let them know to look out for the invoice.

That is what the process looks like, even for what is perceived by an outsider to be a “quick” job! There are a lot of little steps that go into giving the client exactly what they need, and I do each one of them with a big smile! I am sure that there are some people in my industry who are faster and some people who are slower, but I always try to do my best, and I have never been able to do my best at anything- my nails, my schoolwork, my laundry, my hair- when I rush. My goal is that every client is a repeat client and so I treat every job as if it is the most important job I have!