Man thinking, reviewing information on a tabletHave you ever wondered what clients on the other side of the computer screen are thinking when reviewing voice-over auditions?
Brandon Faris, Director at LEAPframe, pulls no punches.
Make sure you’re sitting down!
With a coffee or tea in hand, you’ll be sure to get through.
Find out what you can do to make your audition stand out for all of the right reasons in today’s VOX Daily.

How To Be The Right Voice

By Brandon Faris
Creative direction is the road map that leads a project to its final destination. When collaborating with a group of artists to achieve a collective vision, it is important that everyone follows the same directions. When this works well, everyone arrives at the same place celebrating a great job. When everyone decides to go their own route; wires cross, deadlines get dropped, and time gets wasted.
As the director at LEAPframe, a Cincinnati video production company, I work directly with voice talent to achieve my creative goals. Over the past several years I have leaned heavily on Voices.com to find the right talent for my projects. The service is user friendly and gives me a huge variety of great voice over talent to choose from. However there is one thing that absolutely drives me crazy about the voice over community; the lack of creative courtesy.
When a producer or director posts a job he or she has given it much thought and consideration. The descriptions, samples, and tone have all been communicated for a reason. If I had a nickel for every “Radio Guy” demo that was submitted for my projects in-spite of listing “No Radio Guy” voices, I’d be a rich man.
If a client lists that they’re looking for a “friendly” and “conversational” tone, that doesn’t mean that they also want the “movie guy” or “broadcaster” voice. This lack of following directions wastes time and becomes frustrating. No one is going to hire talent that isn’t right for the creative direction.
My plea to the voice over community is to practice creative courtesy. Read the creative briefs and job descriptions thoroughly. If your particular sound or strength doesn’t align, then don’t submit your demo. Spend your time finding projects that most align with your particular sound.
Lastly, I want to speak about personal greetings. I’m never going to hire anyone because they include a “Hello, Brandon,” in a deep radio voice in their demo. This is always creepy and pushes me to click NEXT! I realize this might be an attempt to personalize the transaction, but what I really want to hear is a relevant entry that meets my creative needs. That will establish a far more personal connection because I feel like you understand me.
If you want to be hired, favorited, and recommended, then the formula is simple:
1) Respond Promptly
2) Make sure your voice matches the creative direction
3) Include the sample script (pre-fab VO reels are NOT relevant)
4) Deliver quality well read voice overs
5) Make prompt and accurate changes and updates
If you practice this type of creative courtesy, there’s a good chance you’ll get a 5-star rating. Producers and directors keep track of talent and crew who do a great job at executing on creative. So not only will you have a better chance of landing a job, but you’ll increase your chances of becoming somebody’s “go to” voice for whatever creative direction you do really well.
I’d love for you to continue the conversation with me on Twitter @brandonfaris and @leapframe.
Brandon Faris
Director
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Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Voices.com. Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her blog serves an audience what wants to grow in their careers as professional voice users, and more specifically, voice actors. Stephanie was recently listed on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Producers have rejected “radio guy” demos for as long as I can remember, denigrating that “big announcer” voice approach to every thing. “We want a human being” they insist, “not a disc jockey”! Yet time after time I have to pause the TV and say to my wife “who the heck hired that VO person?” I often hear announcer types on commercials that require more finesse in the read, and wonder how THEY got the gig, when I most likely would have been rejected for it. I’m a professional air talent in my 39th year of steady work on the air every day. My bosses compliment me on my natural sounding approach on-air, yet VO producers hear what I do for a living and pretty much reject me before I begin. However, if and when I DO get a gig, the client often requests me as the talent from then on. Yet I don’t get the volume of work I should. It defies reason.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Brandon! As a talent, it’s great to hear what irks – and pleases – voice seekers as they sort through voices. Appreciate your time and insight.
    Cheers,
    Shelley Baldiga

  3. Thanks Brandon. I appreciate the focus on professional and creative courtesy as well. I also agree with ‘One Private Citizen’s’ comments as well. I’ve been doing this sort of thing almost as long and have had to deal with the “radio voice” discrimination all along the way. I can’t help the fact that I am who I am, and I speak in a bass/ baritone – even conversationally. It takes constant work and training to notch things down to the point where the words on the page don’t sound like words on the page. Appreciate all the tips and info on this site!

  4. Thanks for the insight Brandon. It’s always good to know what Casting Directors and the like are looking for. I suspect, though, it changes day today and quite possible, minute by minute. We, as Voice Actors struggle with interpreting the minds of people who hire on a daily basis. I have been guilty of not paying close enough attention to the description of what is being asked for….For me, it’s a combination of “direction vs instinct”. Many times I’ve had agency’s respond with….”We never thought of that approach…we’d like to explore that with you”. Now I know it doesn’t happen everyday, but sometimes you just have a feeling…and those feelings, I have found..in most cases may be your best option even if it doesn’t align with the directions. Give ’em both your feeling and your interpretation of the directions…..can’t hurt (Or can it?)
    Thanks again for your “sneak peak”…I’ll spend a bit longer reading between the lines.
    Sincerely,
    John McCann

  5. As a voice talent, receiving thoughtful, clear direction from the voice seeker in the posting is most definitely appreciated, and makes me much more likely to respond to a posting. No direction, or even worse, conflicting direction (“Sounds Like: Movie Trailer and Conversational”, I kid you not, I’ve seen it) leads me to scratch my head and often move on to the next posting. We have a much better chance of giving clients what they want when they tell us what they want.

  6. This is very helpful indeed. As a voice talent, you need a clear understanding of what the entirety of the work is all about. Just from reading the requirement you will know if the job is yours or not. If it is meant for your voice and skills then feel it, imagine it, act it and then deliver with precision.

  7. I am an up and coming voice actor not claiming to know anything. I am a blank slate and am willing to follow any creative direction given. I do have a deep voice but I am able to use my pitch and inflection in a variety of voices. You seem as though you would be a great person to work for and I would like to offer you my services if you ever felt as though you might have need of them. Thank you for your time.

  8. Thank you for sharing your valuable insights, Brandon. It surprises me that all voice talents on Voices.com aren’t following your directions. On the talent side, I agree completely with Scott Medvetz’s observations. I rarely audition these days because of: a) incoherent direction, b) lack of pronunciation guides [does the client want ‘data’ as day-tah or dat-ah’?], budgets too low for what is expected, or clients who don’t listen to audition and pull projects before anyone gets the job. When I find that a client hasn’t listened to my custom-made demo (and I always make sure I send in my audition within the first 30 or so) it irritates me. I will not be auditioning for them again. It’s also a kick in the teeth to have a demo ‘liked’ or ‘favourited’ only to go back later and see that the client has taken the ‘like’ or ‘favourite’ away. Just my two cents.

  9. “My plea to the voice over community is to practice creative courtesy. Read the creative briefs and job descriptions thoroughly. ”
    Thanks for a peek behind the casting curtain Brandon! As a voice talent, reading and responding to sometimes 80 – 100 (or more!) audition notices a week, one has to learn to be discerning in choosing ones that best fit one’s strengths. Otherwise, it’s just an exercise in futility, and a royal waste of time. Seasoned VO professionals will know if they fit the demographics of a casting call, or not. And occasionally, a VO talent can put a personal signature on a piece of copy that elevates it to the short list pretty quickly. Personally, I’ve used Voices.com successfully for years, and find that the level of talent on both sides (VO talent and client) is very high. And it’s always good to hear from the other side of the curtain that it’s still best to follow instructions, when possible!

  10. I’d like to offer some perspective to the classic voice-over Director/Producer instruction to talent of “NO RADIO GUY” voice styling. Sadly, over 50% of those who specify a natural, conversational and folksy read, really DO want that radio guy approach. I can do both, and have done so for many years. I did conversational style on the air and listeners loved it (based on ratings) and so did my PD. But a close listening analysis of any radio announcer doing convo style will quickly point out that they don’t “just talk”. Communication via voice (without seeing the speaker) depends on subtle but critical nuances of diction, emphasis, tone, speed of delivery, mouth and facial muscle positioning, and the mental energy of the announcer.
    When I drop the radio delivery (and there are many levels of that style) and do it like ‘the guy next door’, invariably I am asked to redo the piece with “a bit more drive”, or “a touch more enthusiasm”. After a few retakes, the session Director declares that he is happy – with a radio guy delivery and style! To echo Brandon Faris’ comment about courtesy, that needs to go in both directions. Those people researching the market for voice talent need to be honest AND they need to discuss their project with the talent to get the true essence of what is desired.
    If I’d had a dollar for every Director’s written instruction for no radio voice that turned out to be the opposite, I could likely pay the cost of membership in Voices.com for several years to come. Just sayin!

  11. I recently that when many clients listen to auditions they stop when they hear a voice or delivery that they like. While I had suspected that this was the case, why don’t they make note of that. And then keep on listening. There just might be someone farther down in the stack that they would like better. I find myself actively thinking “Why bother” and if your answer is be the first in the stack, that is not an answer.

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