embarrassed-voice-over-faux-pas.jpgWhat is a voice over faux pas, how does a voice talent commit one, and just how easy is it to take a ‘false step’ in this industry? As the French would say, first declared in the late 17th century, a “faux pas” is a “false step”.

In today’s world, according to one of my Mac widgets, Oxford American Dictionaries, a faux pas is defined as an embarrassing or tactless act or remark in a social situation. There are many faux pas in society, for instance, you would never ask a woman if she is pregnant, even if she appears to be so. Likewise, you wouldn’t assume that because someone is attending a function with someone else that they are romantically involved. Faux pas can crop up in relationships, at social events, within occupations, and in business.

Not to be left out, there are opportunities for blundering in the entertainment and voice industries as well. To be fair, more of these oops moments happen to celebrities and actors in Hollywood, but voice talent are not immune. One item I can think of off the top of my head is that a voice talent should not misspell the proper name of a potential client in an audition situation. While this may seem more like commonsense and easy to avoid, there are a number of people miss the mark, even some who call the client by a name or respond with an application to work for a different company other than the company to whom they are applying.

I’ve also heard that it is improper to mispronounce a company name or the name of someone you are interviewing in a podcast or on the air. Even worse is not introducing them at all. You’re probably thinking, “Of course it’s wrong!”, but there are people out there who don’t take the extra time required to go over such things before hitting the microphone full-steam. Drawing on something I read a couple of years ago, a voice talent’s voice should not air on two or more rival radio stations in the same listening area at the same time. If you can share anything more about this, please leave a comment.

Faux pas can be avoided, and care is absolutely of the essence. Prevention is the key to ensuring that embarrassing or tactless incidents do not occur. Do you have any stories from the field to share about Faux Pas in the voice industry?
Is there anything that people new to the industry should avoid?

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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 podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found 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®.


  1. Stephanie,
    About a year ago a company in another US city had contacted me about work, but they asked me to prepare a test segment of their project to be completely sure that I was the right match for their project.
    At about the same time, a different company from that same city had contracted with me to record a non-broadcast project; which I had completed and delivered via my website.
    When I emailed the information on where the first company could download my test audio I accidentally sent them a link to the second company’s narration.
    Thankfully, the first company simply wrote a nice note thanking me for the link to the demo; but asking that I send them the test they were looking for. The moment I received their reply I realized my error and immediately wrote back with the correct link.
    Even more thankfully, I did get the job and it turned out to be a wonderful project that I enjoyed working on a great deal.
    Be well,

  2. You want a real faux pas? Forget to show up for a job.
    Did that, ONCE, and never worked for the client again.
    Only slightly less embarrassing: show up for an ensemble gig an hour late!
    Of course it’s totally unprofessional. It’s also extremely discourteous to all the other people involved. Fortunately, I had done many gigs with the other actors and producers in the radio show I was late for, so they sort of forgave me, but to this day the director calls before every session, just to remind me.
    Moral: keep an accurate schedule and wear a watch.
    Take care — Mike

  3. When you’re in there pitching, with quotes flying this way and that, it’s easy to forget what price you gave to who and for what when one lands a booking. Fortunately today’s computer technology with keyword searches eliminates much of this problem. The rule of thumb is to keep your email quotes for a reasonable period of time. Don’t delete.
    Another faux pas was quoting a job for Europe in, understandably, euros. I did the currency conversion but then on the invoice priced the job as the converted figure in euros! The client had a minor cardiac arrest and I couldn’t apologise profusely enough. It seems like a small point, but when the fur is flying small mistakes are all too easy to make.

  4. My faux pas story is from the studio point of view.
    We hired a voice talent for a recording, and 15 minutes into the recording, and she’s texting on her mobile phone in between takes and paying no attention to the client’s feedback during playback. We were recording instructional scripts for 10 products, 30-60 seconds each, and listening back to each take as we went, which was the client’s request. The client had to repeat their feedback, which no doubt added to the overrunning session. The client was being picky, so what should have been done in 45 minutes was clearly going to run long.
    During a quick client-requested cigarette break at the 45-minute mark, the talent comes out of the booth, says to me ‘I need to leave for 5 minutes, I have a session booked around the corner’. I was dumbfounded for a moment, but told her that this wasn’t an option: we had to finish, and she’d need to apologize to her other client and show up late.
    Instead, she spoke directly to the client (I’m the one who hired her, I’m the one cutting her a check) and then came in to announce that the client said it was OK for her to step out. She was gone for 30 minutes, came back and was finally done after 90 minutes of recording.
    The saddest part is that we’ve had dialog since then regarding payments for earlier recording sessions, she hasn’t said a word of apology: I’ve even gotten the vibe from her, now that I’m really analyzing her words, that she views herself as a talent who is more important than the studio, and that she was within her rights to talk straight to the client.
    Needless to say, she’ll never get work from us again!

  5. Not having your voice on two stations in the same market only applies if you’re in a market where anyone CARES. I have a friend who owns a production studio AND is a morning d.j. for a local radio station AND is the voice for about ten different car dealerships within a three-mile radius of each other. None of the dealerships seem to care.
    Worse, one of our morning “personalities” on a local network news station is also the “voice” of our public TV station–ON ANOTHER STATION!!
    It boggles my mind that no one thinks this is a conflict of interest. I find it appalling and am always careful to make sure my voice is not “overused” in any market.

  6. Wow!
    Thank you all for sharing your stories and comments.
    We, and I think I speak for everyone, are thoroughly enjoying reading about various faux pas scenarios. It’s been quite entertaining and educational to say the least 🙂
    Thank you Robin for answering my question about voicing for rival stations in the same market. I wonder if there are other people out there who are just as considerate as you are who are also frustrated by this sort of behavior.
    Anyone else have stories to share or an opinion to present?


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