Client Communication: Understanding Client Needs

Beginner's Guide To Voice Acting in 2024

Now that you’re beginning to book jobs and build relationships with clients, you’ll want to make positive first impressions to guarantee that your clients will want to work with you again—and even recommend you to their colleagues!

Have you ever heard that a first impression is lasting, or that you only get one shot at a good first impression?

There are many instances in life where you will be making first impressions or have them impressed upon you. In voice over, the first impression that clients are given of you as a voice talent online is often determined by your resume and the voice over demos on your web page or voice demos submitted in an audition.

One of the best ways to make a good impression on a client is through clear and open communication. If a client knows that you always respond to their requests and suggestions with care and attentiveness, then you can rest assured that they’ll be open to rehiring you when it comes time to cast their next voice over project.

There are a number of other tactics that you can employ to maintain valuable relationships with your clients, as well.

How to Correspond With Clients

Today, even though there are more ways than ever to message and communicate with one another, the struggle to nurture open communication remains in every business. Muddled correspondence happens more often than you might expect.

When communicating online, attempts at straightforward communication with your clients have the potential to be complicated by differences in time zones and language barriers. Misunderstandings can arise when it comes to expected completion dates, the number of takes to include in your final submission, and the creative direction of the voice over itself.

So, how do you take precautions to avoid lapses in communication that could hinder your success and pave the way for a useful client relationship built on mutual agreement?

If at all possible, try to schedule a phone call or Zoom meeting with your client so that you can gain a clear sense of their expectations and engage in a more intimate conversation about the project.

However, if you’re not able to have a live conversation, messaging the client is another great option. Written communication maintains a thread of your correspondence, while allowing you to ask questions and elaborate thoughts in detail. If there happens to be a language barrier between you and your client, it also gives each of you the opportunity to make use of a tool like Google Translate, which can serve as an aid in keeping exchanges from getting lost in translation. Make a point of checking your email consistently and respond to your clients as promptly as possible.

What to Communicate to Clients Before Accepting a Voice Over Job

So you nailed the audition and your voice is the right match for the project. Congratulations! Now that you’ve received a job offer, consider the following guidelines before officially accepting and beginning to work on the job.

Ask to see the final script, word count, or projected runtime

Once you know the script’s word count, or have had the chance to calculate it based on the final script, you can use Voices’ Words to Time Conversion tool to determine a rough idea of how long the read will take to complete and how much time you’ll need to dedicate to the project. You can compare this with the runtime that your client requests, and reach out to them if you can foresee any disparities between your reading time and the intended length of the project.

Review the content of the script

Before you have agreed to take on the project, this is a good moment to review the script and ensure you don’t find any of the content objectionable. Remember that you don’t have to record or associate yourself with anything that makes you uncomfortable. If you’re worried that taking part in a certain project could hurt your reputation or compromise your values, respectfully raise your concerns to your client, or consider turning down the project.

Understand the client’s needs

Depending on the project you have been hired to read for, your client’s needs can vary greatly. If you’re invited into a studio for a recording session, then your primary focus will be delivering an exemplary read purely on the voice acting front.

On the other hand, your client may have specifically sought you out because they knew that you would be able to record your work from home or provide the editing, music, mixing, and mastering of your own audio track. If this is the case, then your rates will likely be higher to account for those add-on services. Make sure that you’ve clearly defined your rates from the outset before you begin recording any of the script.

Help the client understand your expectations

When your client is outlining the terms of your role on the project, remember that the working relationship goes both ways. As much as it’s important that you establish a thorough understanding of what your client wants from you, you need to help the client understand what to expect from your partnership.

Before moving forward with the job, be sure to let your client know:

  • The anticipated date when you’ll be able to deliver the finished files
  • If you’re recording a long-form project, make your client aware of any impending appointments, vacations, or any other commitments that may impact your completion date
  • The number of takes of the read that are included in your price
  • The number of revisions that are included in your price
  • It’s also worth recognizing that you may be asked to sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), which means your client will expect you to stay quiet about your involvement with the project, at least within a certain timeframe—in this case, you will be paid for your work, but you may not receive public credit or be permitted to talk about it (including on social media channels)

By the same token, once you’ve come to an agreement with your client about the specs of the job and what is expected of both parties, get it all in writing. Consider any reputable contractor (such as a plumber or electrician). They all require that a work agreement be signed before getting started. A contract takes mere minutes to read through and sign, so especially when the groundwork has been laid verbally, it’s best to get a precise clarification of it in writing.

If a client requests that you record additional takes of your script read with a different direction or approach, don’t take it to heart or figure that your first take wasn’t good enough. The director’s job is to guide you to actualize their vision through your voice.

Not knowing what’s expected of you can result in confusion or frustration, which can have a severe impact on the triumphant outcome of a job. Never be afraid to ask questions. Knowledge is power, after all.

Promoting Clear Communication is Within Your Control

Although communication can often be challenging, it is completely manageable. By ensuring that both your and your client’s expectations are in line, and that you have a clear direction to guide your performance, the risk of miscommunication is greatly reduced.

By tracking correspondence through writing, you also have the benefit of referring back to what was agreed upon by both parties—this can help squash conflicts before they start.

All-in-all, both you and your client are looking for the same outcome: a stellar voice over performance. By following these tips, you’re sure to develop a great client relationship that will serve you well for years to come.