Podcasts Mission Audition Finding Your Niche with Rachel Alena
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Finding Your Niche with Rachel Alena

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Finding your niche in voiceover acting can be a challenge, and it’s not always what you expect it to be. Talking to us today about how she found her niche is Rachel Alena, voiceover talent, coach, singer, songwriter, and onscreen actor. Rachel’s voiceover career has spanned 20 years, and she brings a wealth of experience into today’s discussion as we analyze the audition for an Elearning platform job. We kick off the conversation with the rise of Elearning, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Rachel’s experience of it. We run through ten auditions for a high-stakes Elearning course, where Rachel gives her overall impressions, her likes, her dislikes, and her tips for each of the artists auditioning. From learning how to vary your pitch to how to catch mistakes in your editing to why you should never use a different script from the one specified, this episode has it all! Join us today to get to know one an expert in the field and hear first-hand how she would approach and judge the auditions for an Elearning platform voiceover.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Introducing Rachel Alena, voiceover talent, coach, singer, songwriter, and onscreen actor. 
  • What to expect from today’s episode. 
  • Rachel’s experience with Elearning through the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Feedback on audition one: excellent, although a bit of pitch variation would have improved it. 
  • How Rachel approaches the connection with an Elearning script. 
  • Audition number two: the importance of minimal, well-done processing.
  • What audition number three nailed, and why Rachel would advise a listen-back. 
  • Rachel’s tips on keeping volume constant, and strengthening your voice. 
  • Why using a different script to audition is not advisable, as we see in audition number four. 
  • Rachel’s advice on marking up where you want to change rhythm in your script. 
  • What Rachel thinks of audition number five; the distinction between professional or robotic reads and more casual, conversational reads. 
  • The importance of pitching your opening words in audition number six.
  • What Rachel suggests you do to catch bad editing in your work. 
  • The benefits of being in a diverse category as a voiceover artist for audition number seven. 
  • Addressing articulation challenges and when Rachel refers to dialect coaches. 
  • The benefits of warm, rich, deep voices and the job categories they are best suited to, as illustrated by audition number eight.
  • How Rachel found her niche, and her advice on finding yours. 
  • Rachel comments on taking client culture into account in audition number nine.
  • Her suggestions for audition number 10: overacting distracts from the content of a voiceover.
  • Who she thinks best hit the brief for today’s audition and why.

Rachel Alena

Rachel Alena on LinkedIn

Rachel Alena Email

iAnnotate

Voices

Kyle Flynn

[INTRODUCTION]

RA: I was very disciplined with my time and that's what I will say to people: be disciplined with the amount of time you spend auditioning. That is going to directly equate with the amount of time that you're going to land jobs.

[EPISODE]

[00:00:16] JJ: Hi, everyone, and welcome back to Mission Audition. I'm your special guest host, Julianna Jones.

[00:00:23] KF: I am your co-host, Kyle Flynn.

[00:00:26] JJ: Today on the show, we have Rachel Alena. Rachel has been a voiceover talent for 20 years now, and she's been coaching for eight years. She's also a singer, songwriter, and an onscreen actor. Rachel's voice has been heard in thousands of narrations, bringing 20 plus years of experience working with clients such as Microsoft, Disney, Delta Dental, Goldman Sachs, Old Navy, and more. As a voiceover coach, her goal is to prepare you to be successful in the real world as a voice actor. Welcome, Rachel.

[00:00:57] RA: Hello. So thrilled to be here. Thanks for having me.

[00:01:02] JJ: Well, thank you for joining us. We're so excited to have your wisdom imparted on our community and the going over of these voiceover auditions today. So, Kyle, can you give us a sneak peek of the job that we posted and a little view of what we're going to listen to today?

[00:01:18] KF: Definitely, we'll be diving into Rachel's expertise here of E-learning material here. The artistic direction is for a product from Pitch to Close. It's an online sales training platform for sales reps in the business to business world. Employers can sign up sales reps to the platform, as a way to introduce new reps to high stakes sales cycle training, as well as provide a refresher training to tendered sales reps. The artistic direction here is since it's an E-learning series, it's positioned as training for high stakes B2B sales. The right voice for the job will take on more of a coach role without sounding to drill sergeant-y, if that's a word, to achieve a persuasive read. We're looking for a middle-aged voice to sound authentic, but also very articulate.

[00:02:01] JJ: That is so timely for today's economy, today's universe. With COVID, we heard so much from our clients about how everything had to go online, training has to go online, and that really hasn't stopped. So, I'm really glad that we've got Rachel who's an E-learning expert taking us through the script for today. Rachel, just before we get into it, what's been your experience like through COVID with E-learning?

[00:02:24] RA: Well, I'm doing an E-learning as a matter of fact, today for an insurance company. I haven't seen much change other than the fact that putting my agency hat on there is a lot more home studio requirements from people. It used to be that people were able to go down to client studios. Now, home studios, often people want some kind of a remote connection like source connect. It's not necessary, but it really does help to be able to secure a lot more work. The home studio thing, I feel like, has become much more of a thing. For the E-learnings especially, versus commercial. Commercial, you want to go down and you go down to a client's studio and have a quick hit. But E-learning, they do a lot of punching in and a lot of, you might do a 2020 E-learning and then have a 2021 where you're changing segments. So, if you can have a home studio with the same setup, that's the same settings, and you can just punch right in, it really helps you to become a long-term E-learning voice especially during a time when we can't go into the client as much.

[00:03:22] JJ: Great advice. Absolutely. Luckily, we've got tons of resources for how to set up your home studio over on our YouTube channel and on our blog.

Alright, so let's listen to audition number one.

[AUDITION 1]

[00:03:34] SPEAKER 1: Hi, and welcome to our on-demand video series from Pitch to Close. Designed to help you win new business, this course provides you with real world selling strategies right across the sales cycle. Equipped with video modules, including C level objection handling, qualifying opportunities, negotiating best practices and more, this is the perfect training program for anyone selling business to business products or services.

[00:04:02] JJ: So, Rachel, what do you think?

[00:04:04] RA: Well, this particular voice is super sellable in today's market. I will tell you that right now it is a really nice, rich tone. She skirts the edge between being professional and being casual in a nice way, although I have some suggestion there. She's got really nice studio quality, which you will hear me say a gazillion times over and over during this session that we're doing here today. Without it, don't bother. I know you can have okay studio quality and that's for the really lower-level jobs. But if you don't have it, you're just not going to compete in the marketplace no matter how good your voice is.

I will tell you that in my experience, I believe the client will really like this and they may like it as is. Chances are very high that they will hire her for this job and say, “We would like it to be slightly more relatable and casual.” Because you told me in the beginning when I looked at the specs, we want persuasive and authentic. So, those two things have to be paired and she's very articulate, and she's not a drill sergeant. But there is a level of lack of connection that I think in today's E-learning, people get really lost here. Connection matters in almost all of your E-learnings, or any voiceover unless you're doing a promo piece. So, that would be what I would say to her.

And one of the things that I noticed there, her lists, there could be a lot more connection with her content on those lists. It's easy to say, “We're going to do A, then we're going to do B, then we're going to do C”, and vary your pitch. It's different if you have a love for, “We're going to do A, then we're going to do B, and then we're going to do C.” Each one has its own story. So, that would be my other thing. The last thing is she's ending on the same pitches over and over again and I would encourage her to vary that up a little bit.

[00:05:55] JJ: I heard you say connection to the script a couple of times. How do you approach a connection to an E-learning script?

[00:06:00] RA: Well, that's a very great question, and there's a very big answer and long answer for that. I'll try to keep it short. Connection, the words matter, 100%. But it is an emotional connection between a human to human, and as voice actors, we are not voice readers. That's the mistake people make with E-learning. We are voice actors and that means that we have to think about the human being on the other end, and how they're getting information and why that matters. We also need to look at our content and figure out if A is something that — let’s just say A is, I don't know, if you're talking about haircutting, A is about the scissors. B might be about the hair color, and C might be about washing your hair. As a voice actor, you need to find what's going to matter in the shampoo, what's going to matter in the scissors. Each item matters and everybody just wants to gloss over those lists and make them sound pretty. But thinking about a person on the other end and what matters to them with that list is how I would suggest approaching it.

[00:07:02] KF: I think that's some excellent advice. People overlook that with E-learning and narration. I think that's incredibly good advice to bridge over from many other aspects of VO and bring it back into the E-learning and narration world VO, so I agree.

[00:07:15] JJ: Absolutely. Anyone who's got your pen and pencil out, make sure you wrote that one down. Alright, let's cue up audition number two.

[AUDITION 2]

[00:07:24] SPEAKER 2: Hi, and welcome to our on-demand video series from Pitch to Close. Designed to help you win new business, this course provides you with real world selling strategies right across the sales cycle. Equipped with video modules, including C level objection handling, qualifying opportunities, negotiating best practices and more, this is the perfect training program for anyone selling business to business products or services.

[00:07:49] KF: Alrighty, what are your thoughts, Rachel?

[00:07:52] RA: So, this is interesting, because this gentleman has a really, really nice tone of voice. I have had experience, had specific experience in mind with somebody who really wanted to gain more work with a similar sounding voice and had a lot of trouble. Because for some reason in the processing, it sounds a little bit robotic. I'm not sure what's happening with compression, or equalization, or what's going on there, and that might not be the issue. But there's something in it that's making it sound and not as human, as we might like to have it sound. That is a huge, huge inhibitor for clients. That's the first thing that I hear.

Also, the read is rigid. This read might have done really well 20 or 30 years ago. But in today's market, I understand that this says high stakes sales training, it's B2B. There are experienced reps and new rep. It's got some articulation. I understand all of that. But in today's market, it's all about being inclusive. So, we need to make sure that even if you're adding all those things in that you don't sound like you're robotic and alienating people.

I would really, again, go back to that connection, that emotional connection. I do think this voice would work well for a specific product with taking that processing issue out. But it would have to be a product that would not be a coaching realm such as this. They say they want to coach. Coaches connect. That's just what coaches do. They understand the person on the other end. So again, that would be for him. Really, my advice is to consider trying to relax his entire body and bringing it down to a little bit more of a human level.

[00:09:33] JJ: Wow, great advice. I love how you can just — I can hear everything that you're saying as I'm listening back and thinking about the gentleman's recording. One other thing I really want to ask you about is processing levels. When you're listening to an audition, and knowing that you pass auditions along to clients, what are you looking to hear audio quality wise in an audition?

[00:09:57] RA: Okay. I will tell you. To answer that question, my expertise is in the business of voice acting and how to be a voice actor. I'm not an equipment expertise. I have engineers that I have helped me with that stuff. I run my own. So, what I'm listening for is, first of all, clean room tone. I want to make sure that I don't hear airplanes buzzing down, buzzing by, and all of that, and people achieve this in many ways. But I just like a clean, normal sounding voice. Something that's been processed through an audio interface, you could do direct into the computer. But oftentimes, you don't have that nice processing. But I'm not looking for something compressed. I don't want something that has a lot of processing from my experience, because the client on the other end is going to produce it, and they're not going to want all that processing.

That being said, some people do have situations where they need to do some processing, for sound and all of that. But it's got to sound like it's just a nice voice with a nice tone. That sounds like somebody is just in a nice, quiet booth, without a lot of compression and stuff going on.

[00:11:00] JJ: I've heard more and more people talk about how voice actors in today's world aren't just voice actors. They're also their own director, their own audio engineer, and it almost sounds like you're saying, you can take some of that audio engineer work off your plate, and just focus on delivering a clean recording and not worrying too much about how much you're compressing it.

[00:11:20] RA: I would say this, you have to know your stuff. Unless you have a partner or somebody who can do it for you, you really do, because at the end of the day clients want — they’re going to want to know certain bit rates and that sort of thing. And you have to be able to provide what is it, 441,000 or 440,000 hertz, and then your 16-bit rates or higher or whatever. You have to know how to do that. You also have to have a quiet space without room tone and turn off your air conditioner. You have to do all of that stuff.

But that being said, what I guess what I'm saying is, is a lot of people get stuck in working on how to compress and how to equalize and how to do these noise directions and all that. To be honest, when I do my recordings, the better your equipment, the better the sound, but I take out my breaths, and make sure I don't have room tone. And then, unless the client asks for something else, my technique on the mic should be good enough to get rid of those peas, and to handle mouth noise and all of that stuff.

[00:12:20] KF: I agree. I've talked to a quite a few audio specialists around the similar topic. It seems to roll back from a day where everything was heavily processed. Now, it's almost a less is more type scenario, where just like you said, make sure that it's clean, make sure that it's high quality, don't over process, because you're actually shooting yourself in the foot sometimes by having those heavy compressions and over editing there, so couldn't agree more.

[00:12:47] JJ: Alright, let's head on over to audition number three.

[AUDITION 3]

[00:12:51] SPEAKER 3: Hi, and welcome to our on-demand video series from Pitch to Close. Designed to help you win new business, this course provides you with real world selling strategies right across the sales cycle. Equipped with video modules, including C level objection handling, qualifying opportunities, negotiating best practices and more, this is the perfect training program for anyone selling business to business products or services.

[00:13:19] JJ: Good one. What do you think, Rachel?

[00:13:23] RA: So, this voice really nails it in the casual conversational realm. If they're looking for this kind of a voice, she really nailed it. She did a beautiful, beautiful job varying how she was doing things, keeping it casual, but being professional. I think she really hit a lot of the mark, not a drill sergeant but articulate, but also being casual, very coach-ish. Her sound quality was excellent.

The only thing that I would say for her would be to consider, if we were to chunk that down and listen back, she hits the same pitch over and over again. She's got a favorite pitch, which is fine for a short snippet like this. But I would say to consider varying your pitch at the ends of your phrases and sentences. That might add a little bit of variation. The only other thing I heard with her voice is it's really nice. She may, and I don't know, obviously anything about how she cares for her voice. But I hear a lot of force coming into that voice and she nailed this audition.

My question coming from a client perspective would be E-learnings are very long. And I heard a little bit of just because that's my specialty, I heard a little bit of trouble with regards to maintaining the air coming out, meaning that she might lose her voice or it might become less powerful and drained as time goes on. I don't know. But that would be something that a voice like this, I would suggest being sure she's using her diaphragm. She's using proper placement of where she puts her facial structure and all of that, to make sure that she can keep her volume consistent. The reason I know that is I heard her volume being inconsistent. So, to be sure that she keeps that all consistent. Other than that, it was really good.

[00:15:08] JJ: Lovely. So, for keeping your volume consistent, I heard breast support, like support from your diaphragm and your body posture. Is there anything else that we should be thinking about to make sure that we keep our volume consistent?

[00:15:19] RA: Well, I personally would suggest that she consider doing warm ups in the morning to strengthen her voice. Her voice sounds a little taxed. I would consider doing some warm ups, and also, even studying for a session with a person who specializes in singing or voice control can help you organize lifting your soft palate and how to really get sound properly coming through so that you're lifting with the placement when you're doing those recordings.

[00:15:48] KF: That's really strong advice there. It's a question that I feel like we get a lot in the coaching webinars is how to take care of your voice and how to focus on the longevity of your voice. I think those are two great points that you made there.

Alrighty, on to the next audition here. Let's next listen to audition four.

[AUDITION 4]

[00:16:10] SPEAKER 4: Welcome to the team. You have arrived at a special place. We are a family. A family who cares about each other and about our neighbors. For nearly 100 years, United Way has been an incredible force for good in our community. We fight for the equitable access to quality education, financial security, and health of everyone in our community. Here at X, we talk a lot about the ALICE’s of our community. ALICE stands for asset limited, income constrained, employed. Simply put, they are hardworking families who are one emergency away from poverty and X more than half.

[00:16:44] KF: I think we can all identify a fairly large difference there in the first 10 seconds. What are your thoughts there?

[00:16:50] RA: Well, what I want to say is, first of all, I love this voice. I have to say it's very relatable, very friendly. It's a unique sound compared to a lot of this voiceover-y a sound that we hear. So, she's very real. I really, really love that about her voice. When I initially heard this, I was really thrown off because there's a different script in this recording. Again, putting my agent hat on a different script comes in, and I may even consider maybe one other chance for this person to do an audition for me and that's it. Because they should be sending the script that I sent. Now, there could be a mistake on their end or something like that and I understand that, and I'd probably send an email back saying, “What's up with this?” But that's not going to do you any good to getting the job, because they can't even get an idea of what you sound like.

The other thing that I would say is this particular voiceover while she's very, very good and natural sounding, her cadence is very rigid. For example, if I were speaking, it's all very like this, then it's like this, then it's like this, then it's like this, and there is not a lot of differentiation in the rhythmic pattern. So, one thing that I would suggest for her to consider is to have short rhythms, and then some longer rhythms on things she wants to have emphasis on. For example, I have a short rhythm like this, I have a short rhythm like this, but then I have a long rhythm here. But then back to a short rhythm and maybe half long, half short. That would really help her sound a little less punchy. Her rhythm is all the same, which makes it — it can get a little tiresome to the listener, sometimes.

[00:18:29] JJ: If you're a new voiceover artist trying to vary your pitch, do you have them mark up the script? Are there other techniques that you have them do to help them with this? Because I can imagine, that's pretty hard to keep in your head.

[00:18:40] RA: Yeah, totally. We have some things going on. Because with technology, I used to tell people print out your scripts, and I still do, and write them out. Like the E-learning I'm doing today, I've printed it out. I know you can also use the iAnnotate. There are other programs and some people prefer that. I'm just old school that way.

Yes, printing out your scripts. As time goes on, you don't need to mark it up. But when you are first starting this process, you really want to look at where your client would want that emphasis to be, not necessarily where you think it should go, or what you're comfortable with or used to, it's where your client wants it to go and mark it up for those things, for pitch, for rhythm, for script analysis, for all of those things, for emotional content and those sorts of things. So, I would say 110%. I know people think that's tedious, and they're trying to get their auditions done in a short amount of time. But if you come up with a process from the very beginning with every audition that it does include markups, at some point, you stop marking it up because you just know intuitively. So, yes, to answer your question, for sure.

[00:19:42] JJ: Absolutely. Perfect practice makes perfect. Sometimes you have to go slow until you can go quickly.

[00:19:48] RA: You got it. Yes ma'am.

[00:19:50] KF: I just like and would like to highlight what you said off the start there, with regards to, they put in a custom script. They're looking for the custom script, and a lot of people don't realize the future thought of, you're putting yourself on a noticeable list in the wrong way. People will remember that and like you said, maybe they get one more chance at the next job that's up there, but you're being noticed in the wrong way, and definitely would caution voice actors from that practice.

[00:20:18] JJ: Wonderful. Alright, let's listen to audition number five.

[AUDITION 5]

[00:20:23] SPEAKER 5: Hi, and welcome to our on-demand video series from Pitch to Close. Designed to help you win new business, this course provides you with real world selling strategies right across the sales cycle. Equipped with video modules, including C level objection handling, qualifying opportunities, negotiating best practices and more, this is the perfect training program for anyone selling business to business products or services.

[00:20:52] KF: Alright, Rachel, I think that's a pretty strong start there. What are your thoughts on this recording?

[00:20:58] RA: He has a really, really nice natural tone of voice. He's very sellable in today's market. Excellent studio sound quality. So, I really want to give him kudos for really having it together in his sound and everything. He obviously knows what he's doing in that way. Again, I want to go back to kind of what I said earlier, which is think about today's marketplace. There are two markets going on today. We've got the more professional realm that's kind of a little bit more robotic, and then we've got the more casual conversational realm, which is what is happening a good portion of time, not all the time. I mean, I did an on-camera job this year for Black Friday, I think, or was it — no, last year for Black Friday and they actually ran two campaigns. One that was geared towards a bit of an older audience, more professional. One that was geared more towards a younger audience with a social media campaign, and they paid for two.

So that is going on. But a voice like this, there's a lot of over emphasis on specific words. For example, win, real world, and sometimes that can be off putting from the perspective of really wanting to understand what he's saying. It can be distracting. And what I would suggest for this voiceover talent is to potentially consider putting his inflections on chunks of words versus singular words. So, if he's going to say, if his emphasis is on the word “win”, like, we want to win real business. I would consider putting your emphasis on the chunk of win real business, and to make that a longer kind of example, I might say, “We want to win real business in today's marketplace.” So, it's the whole chunk versus singular words. Putting that emphasis on that singular word, just dates it a little bit and makes it sound a little bit too promo-ish/hard sell. That's not the descriptor they're looking for. They want to coach. No drill sergeants. So, that's my suggestion with that.

[00:22:56] JJ: I even see that tying back to your earlier comments about making sure that you're putting emphasis on the things that's going to drive the product home or the message home, right? Win real business, that's the whole point of this is to win real business. So, putting it on the whole thing really does give you a holistic picture of what you're trying to tie together and what you're trying to achieve by delivering this voiceover. I love that tip. I'm actually going to use that in my own presentations.

[00:23:21] KF: I could not agree more.

[00:23:26] JJ: Brilliant. Alright, good job. Let's move on to audition number six.

[AUDITION 6]

[00:23:30] SPEAKER 6: Hi, and welcome to our on-demand video series from Pitch to Close. Designed to help you win new business, this course provides you with real world selling strategies right across the sales cycle. Equipped with video modules, including C level objection handling, qualifying opportunities, negotiating best practices and more, this is the perfect training program for anyone selling business to business products or services.

[00:23:58] RA: Mm-hmm. That was an excellent read. He has a nice, friendly mid-tone voice, and that mid tone is really sellable today. It's friendly, so it's not intimidating. There are just a couple little notes that I would give to this gentleman, and they're not many. Right out of the gate he comes in hard with, I think it might have been, “Hi”. He comes in really strong and I would suggest giving himself a slight lead in, maybe a three, two, one. “Hi”, and coming in on a lower pitch with a little bit of less intensity to give your listener a chance to ease into that relationship because everything, even if it's an E-learning, is a relationship. That's what we're talking about, a connection and a relationship.

So, coming in so hot like that, immediately can bring your listener to, “Ah, I might not want to listen to this. This is too much and why is he screaming at me?” That's the one thing that I would say. And then the other thing that as crazy as this is, is very concerning to me, again, putting my agency hat on, is there a slight bad cut in the middle somewhere there, and I can't quite hear it where it was. But there's a cut somewhere in there, that doesn't sound like a proper breath. It sounds like he may have just cut out and I can hear that cut. So, it would red-flag me, believe it or not, no matter how good this audition is, one single bad cut, tells me that he may not be that strong working with his editing and his equipment. That would concern me because, E-learnings, like I've said before are long, and you can wind up becoming the voice of a company. You really need somebody who's on top of how they handle their breaths, and all of that. I did hear that from him. But his recording was excellent, other than that.

[00:25:44] JJ: Do voiceover artists generally catch any bad cuts like that in the proof listening stage before they send in an audition? Or are there other techniques that you would suggest for catching things like that?

[00:25:55] JJ: Boy, that is such an excellent question. Experience has a lot to do with that. So, when you have experience, you know where to make your cuts, and you start learning that stuff. Sometimes you can't hear it, especially if you're playing back from a laptop, you're playing back from speakers, you don't have headsets on, it's a little bit difficult to hear. If you are in that circumstance, I know this is a lot of extra work. But you may want to just make an mp3 of it before you send it in, go down to your car, or put it in, send it to your phone or something and play it back through headsets there or through your car speakers. And then you will be able to hear those things in a different way.

A lot of times, in my experience, what you play back for yourself, is it's coming — this happens all the time. It's coming from your DOS system. So, like your recording, and you hit play and you just play it back, sometimes it's different than what's created in mp3. You can wind up with bitrate issues and different kind of issues. That’s just doing that check. This is a totally separate thing. But I always, always, always say every audition, take a minute and listen back because the last thing you want is a bad cut. Or I recently ran a casting and had somebody cursing on their recording back to me and they didn't listen back. They didn't. I got a whole like, 13 seconds of them cursing their equipment and everything. So, you want to just listen back for a minute and make sure — again, there's guaranteed somebody on the other end who's hearing that, so take that extra minute, just listen back to your audition.

[00:27:26] JJ: Yeah, well, I mean, that's a crazy story. I feel bad for that person. So relatable. We've all done something similar. But I also think you need to upload an mp3 audition to voices. So, taking a second to listen to it once you've converted it, is a great tip that our listeners can use to make sure that their audio sound is as perfect as they can make it to give them the best chance possible to book that project.

[00:27:51] RA: I totally agree. And if you are taking a step further, take that mp3 and listen to it, even just a couple of your mp3, not to do with all of them. Check it out someplace else. Go to someone else's computer and see what does that sound like. Sometimes it's different.

[00:28:04] KF: Definitely. A really good tip that I saw from — I don't know exactly how applicable it would be in this specific scenario. But watching your wave readings in your recording can really help you pick out those dead drops or those background noises, where you're seeing frequencies where they shouldn't be. So, watching your waveform is a really good tip there on just keeping everything clean.

[00:28:26] RA: Yeah, and I would also say being able to have a good enough equipment that you can run, where you're able to really scroll in on those breaths and make clean cuts, versus trying to do it so far out because you can't, excuse me, you can always get the best cuts that way. So yeah, I totally agree.

[00:28:40] JJ: Alright. Next up, let's listen to audition number seven.

[AUDITION 7]

[00:28:44] SPEAKER 7: Hi, and welcome to our on-demand video series from Pitch to Close. Designed to help you win new business, this course provides you with real world selling strategies right across the sales cycle. Equipped with video modules, including C level objection handling, qualifying opportunities, negotiating best practices and more, this is the perfect training program for anyone selling business to business products or services.

[00:29:10] KF: Let's pass it over to you, Rachel.

[00:29:11] RA: What I love about this voice is it is a diverse category. There's a lot more interest here for — there’s probably less competition for this voice, meaning less people in the same sound trying to land this job. So, I really love that about her voice and I love that she's articulate, she's well spoken. She's connected with her story and I like all of that. I will say something that's distracting and I have had this experience happened with another talent that I've worked with, is sibilance. There is an issue with over articulation as well as the S’s. I can't define it exactly other than to say, it may be something that is — she might need to speak with a dialect coach for those S’s. I'm not sure if it's a bridge issue or if the tongue is going too much on the edge of the teeth there. But there's something in that.

Also, another idea that she could do on those S’s, if she wanted to, after she records, go into post production and reduce them just a little bit. They're just kind of heavy, and they're hitting very hard. Another suggestion that I would make to this person is working on articulation. She has lovely articulation, but she's over articulating. So, she might want to spend some time everyday doing articulation exercises. I think sometimes when people do voiceovers, they want it to be very articulate, so they start over articulating like this. That can be a little bit distracting, versus trying to be able to get your lips used to moving quickly all the time. That way, when you come to your auditions, you don't have to over articulate because you naturally articulate, anyway.

[00:30:55] KF: Do you have any home tips or any practices that you put in place with students that have sibilance issues?

[00:31:01] RA: Well, with sibilance issues such as that, I actually would refer them to a dialect coach who specializes in it. It may just have been her recording. If it was just her recording, and it happened to be that one, and sometimes that is the case. She can do exercises like, “She sells seashells by the seashore”, that kind of thing. And really making sure, checking out where her tongue is placed with her teeth, making sure “she sells”, on that sells, are her teeth place together well enough to make sure that that S is back?

The other idea that I would ask her to consider is softening. When she's speaking of those S's, softening on them just a little bit, so that there's less air coming through. Because if you notice, if I were to say, “She sells seashells”, it's hard. But if I soften, “She sells seashells”, it's got a little bit less of a hit. I know that's a hard one because they're little tiny sentences or words. But that would be my best suggestion for her.

I think it's a placement of the way her mouth is, or something going on there. Not quite sure, but it's a fixable thing. It just takes a little bit of practice. The other thing to mention is I have worked with a talent with this exact issue, and there is a place in the market, even if it's not fixable. There are a lot of people, and this might not be the job for that, but are looking for interesting real people sounding people, all the time. So, something like this, she does not sound like a slick voiceover talent. She sounds like an interesting voice with a unique kind of sound in that way. There's always room for somebody like this, because you just need to have diversity, and you never know what the client is looking for. So, I will say that about that.

[00:32:45] JJ: Absolutely. I love that comment, Rachel. You can't fix what you don't know is broken. So, thank you for bringing that up. Wonderful. Alright, let's keep this party rolling and move on to audition number eight.

[AUDITION 8]

[00:32:58] SPEAKER 8: Hi, and welcome to our on-demand video series from Pitch to Close. Designed to help you win new business, this course provides you with real world selling strategies right across the sales cycle. Equipped with video modules, including C level objection handling, qualifying opportunities, negotiating best practices and more, this is the perfect training program for anyone selling business to business products or services.

[00:33:28] KF: Alright, Rachel. I'd love to hear your take here.

[00:33:31] RA: Yes, so I know this might sound insane. But I've worked with a number of people with voices similar to this and they can end up with the most beautiful quality recordings, if they can get their studio set up right. Because this gentleman has something that many people don't have. He's got this warm, rich, deep quality to his voice, that's more of a niche quality when they're looking for that specific voice. But he could do very well at audio book narration, especially if he develops his skill, because he's got just such a nice, dreamy, easy to listen to voice.

But that being said, there's quite a bit of room for some updates that need to happen. For example, the studio quality is not where it should be. So right out of the gate there that's really going to not give him the opportunities that he's going to want to have, regardless of how beautiful his voice is. There's too much room tone. We hear some kind of noise buzzing or something in the background. His energy is also a little bit too low. One thing to always keep in mind, you don't want to like be like over the top and blasting people. But energy is heard in the voice, but it's also heard and physicality. Again, there's somebody on the other end, and we want to move them emotionally. I don't care what kind of voiceover, it’s from animation to audiobooks, doesn't matter. E-learnings especially, there's somebody on the other end who may be bored and having to take that class. Energetically, you need to keep the energy up, do the whole thing so that you're keeping that person interested.

So, I would say that the breaths need to be minimized. For sure, you can't send in an audition with breaths, unless for some reason they want RAW files. But that doesn't normally happen. It cuts off at the end. Again, a sign that we're not really listening back and don't know exactly what we're doing with that equipment. So, those are some ideas that I have for this gentleman. I would encourage him to button those things up, because he's got a really beautiful voice.

[00:35:20] JJ: Lovely. His energy seemed a little bit different than what we've typically been hearing in these auditions. Is this an audition that you would consider for this job? Is this something where you might say, “I don't know if this is the job for you.” What kind of advice which you give someone in that situation where maybe their natural tendencies don't match up to exactly what the casting is asking for?

[00:35:44] RA: Excellent question. It depends on how much time and energy you want to put into your skill level. Because personally, this type of voice, if he's able to bring his energy and his studio quality up, he may be great for these kinds of jobs. That's the first thing that I will say. If that is not in his wheelhouse, and not something that's the natural, you know, not his jam of where he thinks he should be, then he may be better served to not audition for this type of thing, and spend his energy more on something like audiobook narration, or something where the energy goes.

But the one thing I will say is that, if you think about it, what kind of jobs would handle a lower energy? That's the question. Because commercial work wouldn't, animation wouldn't, maybe audiobooks might be a place. Trainings would be where I would love to put this gentleman if he was able to increase his energy.

[00:36:38] JJ: Gotcha. How did you find your niche voice?

[00:36:42] RA: Well, I have to think back about this. So, I've been doing voiceovers for so long. My first voiceover was an on-hold message when I was young, young, young. I was not comfortable doing commercial work for a very long time. I was, like a lot of people, very comfortable doing the trainings, because I had worked on the other side of things, providing materials at one point in time for an HR company. So, I was comfortable there. But for me, I wanted to grow myself as a voice actor, so I did E-learnings, but I kept going and growing my skill set in everything.

At this point, I can do pretty much anything. But as time went on, and I always say this to my coaching students, find where you're comfortable. For example, this gentleman, he might be comfortable with the audiobooks, he might be even comfortable with E-learnings. So, if he can bring that energy up, and sit there, and that might be the lane that he sits in. I think that's great. If you want to make it more of a full-time thing where it's your job is to be a voice actor, then I would challenge you to go after things you're not so comfortable with. Once you get the foundation, you understand how to work with pitch, you understand how to work with rhythm, you understand where you are, you master your own thing, then you can find other niche voices.

I have a very unique perspective on niche compared to a lot of people. My perspective on niche is a lot of people say, “Where is my niche and where should I be?” I 100% believe you should spend your time where you believe. But I will tell you that like for me, the first job I did for Delta Dental was an enrollment manual, eons ago, and I did one for them this year. That's an E-learning type of industrial style thing. Then I did a commercial for them and they hired me for some commercials, which I still do all the time. Then I got to be the grouchy rabbit in the tooth fairy because I could do animation. The point of that story is, not that I'm so great, the point is, is that I started with a training manual for them and developed a relationship with my client. So, that I had the opportunity to then bring in some commercial work, and then the opportunity to bring in something — the animation is not my strongest, but I can do it. So, bring that in, and I encourage people to develop relationships and really, with their niche, however they find that, where you're the most comfortable, where it feels yummy, where you're landing the most likes, or back, that's where your niche is. And then from there, develop your skill so that you can develop and become a part of they keep bringing you back for things and giving you high ratings on voices.com.

[00:39:15] JJ: Well, I love that. Such excellent, real-world advice that you can take hold of and do something about in your own life. You said something important too, is take a look at the jobs you're booking and the shortlist that you're getting, and your demos that are getting the most listens. Take note of the styles and the roles and the categories, that is real world feedback, that's clients telling you what you're good at. And if you're looking for a safe space to start, that's an excellent one to go and look through your own work.

[00:39:42] RA: Absolutely, 110%. Yes.

[00:39:46] KF: I completely agree. That's something actually still to this day with the top bookers on the site and our platinum tier, I still work with going through. Okay, what if you booked? Where are your strong suits lately? And that information is, like Julianna said, direct customer feedback that is so valuable. I think something that's really cool and worth mentioning is how many people come into the industry thinking their niche is going to be X? And then develop this career and success in an area that they never thought they would go into. So, I think it's important to early on not to block yourself into what you think your niche might be, and to allow yourself the room to grow as a voiceover actor, because it works out that way for so many people that they thought niche would be here, and it turns out to be the exact opposite end of the spectrum.

[00:40:32] RA: I 100% agree with that. I would say that that's a life thing. In general, careers as actors, as singers, as voiceover talent, you can shoot a target. I'm going to hit that target. And often, your arrow goes a little bit left. I say, like you had said earlier, pick something that feels right, where you're getting that feedback, where it feels like it's in your wheelhouse, and listen to that. But also, try things that just stretch you just a little bit, because you don't know where it's going to go. I can't say enough how I think in my own career, that has been the case. And I would say, it's just the case to be open to where the river takes. Hop on the boat, and then go where the river takes you.

[00:41:18] JJ: Absolutely. I think another piece of advice that I personally like is don't be afraid to be bad at something the first couple times you do it, right? Because the only way to go from maybe not the greatest to amazing is to keep going is to not give up, is to continue down that path. Just because it doesn't sound great the first time you do it, doesn't mean it's not going to sound great the 50th and even better, the hundredth, and the thousandth, and the ten thousandth. So, if you love it, keep going.

[00:41:44] KF: Especially in voiceover, I think that can be doubled down in a large way of don't — because we all know, you're not going to get every job you audition for. Starting off, it's a harder path to get to where you're wanting to be. But having that perseverance, having that comfortability and to just keep hitting it, I think is a quality that is not only much appreciated for each and every voice actor, I think it's actually necessary. Without it, it's very difficult to succeed in this industry.

[00:42:12] RA: I always think it's funny that people will say, “Oh, my gosh, you've had the successful career at what you're doing and all that.” And I look back, and I will tell you that it was so hard. I mean, I have a diary where I audition. So, I was very disciplined with my time, and that's what I will say to people. Be disciplined with the amount of time you spend auditioning, because that is going to directly equate with the amount of time that you're going to land jobs. I'm not saying that, you need to audition constantly. But if you're disciplined with it, and you start somewhere and you say, “Okay, I'm just going to do 20 auditions this week, they're going to be good matches.” You get that feedback. The next week, you go back and say, “Okay, I'm going to go in this direction.” All of us, people who have had success, you see those successes and you think, “Oh, they must know some somebody or they must have done something.” But the fact of the matter is, is most of us have just worked so hard and done so many auditions and showed up and made so many mistakes that we hope don't get to shown to too many people, but sometimes they do. You're 100% right. That is the name of the game in this business. Nothing happens here unless you share your voice and take some risks, and move yourself forward. So, 100%.

[00:43:27] JJ: Absolutely. Consider the three of us your cheerleaders to be resilient to keep going. Absolutely.

[00:43:33] KF: Love that.

[00:43:36] JJ: Alright, let's queue up audition number nine.

[AUDITION 9]

[00:43:39] SPEAKER 9: Hi, and welcome to our on-demand video series from Pitch to Close. Designed to help you win new business, this course provides you with real world selling strategies right across the sales cycle. Equipped with video modules, including C level objection handling, qualifying opportunities, negotiating best practices and more, this is the perfect training program for anyone selling business to business products or services.

[00:44:03] JJ: Wow, she was pretty easy to listen to.

[00:44:06] RA: She sure is. Really, really, really nice read there. If the client is looking for that kind of voice, it's very casual. She's very real person, which I think is easy to listen to. Here's the catch with this, and I know that this — I don't know exactly what this particular client would want because it's all over the mat deciding, but her voice is very casual and very real person. But that being said, it may not have enough of the business energy to it that the client is looking for. I'm not sure, but you have to remember they said this is a high stakes sales training. And while she's very friendly, it may not be the professionalism.

So, there's a fine line here that they're looking for. She definitely has this wonderful coach and easy thing to listen to, but I would be a little concerned with bringing in new reps, the refreshing experience reps. When you do an E-learning, you are the voice of that company. Even if it's just one single E-learning that you're doing for them, they are hiring you for whatever the topic is. The topic here is sales training for sales reps, B2B. But more than that, no matter what the topic is, you are a part of that company and you are representing that company. This may be the read that they want. But based on the topic, I'm guessing they may want more of a model employee who sounds casual. It could be wrong. But that's my feeling on that.

Also, her recording quality wasn't fantastic. It was okay. But it wasn't fantastic. So, that's what I will say about that voice, really, really strong read, and that voice could do well at a lot of things. I'm just not sure if this product is the right match that voice. That's all,

[00:45:54] KF: I think you do a really good job highlighting there in your feedback, and you've mentioned this, about a very sellable voice. I think she knocks it out of the park for what a lot of clients are looking for. I would probably lean more so away from E-learning, and I think that's where that distinction in your feedback comes from E-learning, and that very marketable voice that she has, is that distinction between E-learning and other spots out there. I think you do a great job highlighting the difference there.

[00:46:21] RA: Well, I would qualify that, because like I did trainings for Old Navy, Banana Republic and the Gap in 2016, her voice might be perfect for that. Because we were training the ages of employees who might be putting — stocking shelves and those sorts of things, and she might be coming from a manager's perspective. So, it depends on, she might not be that type of style, might not be good for CEOs, or it might not be good for high sales, just depends. But there are, I think, E-learnings out there that are good for her voice. So, I think she just needs to be a little more choosy with the end user.

[00:46:53] JJ: And why looking at the audience field on the job posting is huge, absolutely. Yeah. That's anything that we added in the last 12 months.

[00:47:07] KF: Yeah, even least year.

[00:47:08] JJ: Getting clients, used to adding an audience field because we understand from these kinds of discussions why it's so important to know exactly who your audience is.

[00:47:16] RA: Yeah. So, when I do continuing ed with my students, a lot of them work with you. They're on voices.com. They send me their auditions and want some feedback as to how to improve them. I really can't even give them feedback unless I can hear who the end audience is. What are the director's notes? Because without that, it's really like, who knows? That could be perfect. You sound great. You just don't know. It starts to become very specific. And that just takes some time and practice to do. But 100%, that audience thing is, understanding that is huge.

[00:47:52] JJ: Absolutely. Alright, guys, we're almost at the end. Let's listen to audition number 10.

[AUDITION 10]

[00:47:59] CHRISTOPHER: Christopher Nelson, two takes.

Hi, and welcome to our on-demand video series from Pitch to Close. Designed to help you win new business, this course provides you with real world selling strategies right across the sales cycle. Equipped with video modules, including C level objection handling, qualifying opportunities, negotiating best practices and more.

Hi, and welcome to our on-demand video series from Pitch to Close. Designed to help you win new business, this course provides you with real world selling strategies right across the sales cycle. Equipped with video modules, including C level objection handling, qualifying opportunities, negotiating best practices and more, this is the perfect training program for anyone selling business to business products or services.

[00:48:59] KF: Alright, we'll let you take the reins on that one, Rachel.

[00:49:02] JJ: I hear this all the time. People do this all the time. Nice, deep resonant voice, and this person is possibly has done some acting before. That's a possibility. I don't know. But sometimes theater actors will start to overact because there's a different connection with voiceovers than there is with theatre, or even like on camera commercial work, where your emphasis is it's a little different.

I would say if you were doing theater, or if you're just a person who is expressive, which is awesome, you have your hand gestures, you have your facial expressions, and you have your voice. In this case, we only have our voice. So, it depends on how you look at it, but you, a little can go a long way in this scenario here. Overacting does not suit you in voiceover. I say that carefully because there are people who are always underacting. And so, for those people, they need to go bigger.

This particular time gentleman, emphasis is putting where he, in my opinion, where he feels emotion. I understand that. He feels the emotion and therefore, he expresses that emotion. That's an acting thing. And that is something that we do naturally, when children first start acting, that's what they do. I'm going to go big on this idea, and I understand that. In voiceover, we have to think about pitch, we have to think about rhythm, we have to think about the overall rhythm of the script, and where, as we talked about earlier, we want that emphasis to be. And then to hit it in a way that matches what people are expecting to hear from a voiceover. I would suggest to this gentleman that he first starts out with what is his emotional goal for this piece. I know people say, “Well, it's an E-learning, who has an emotional goal.” But there is an emotional goal in this piece. The goal is to be a coach, it's to be a mentor, it's to be connected, but also, to represent the company in a somewhat professional way. That's what I would say the goal is, and would a coach speak in that kind of a way unless they were at some kind of an event where they were doing a drill sergeant thing or an overacting thing. That's something to always identify at the beginning of your script. And then you also need the skill and the tools to understand how to articulate it. I feel like this was just too much emphasis on words that were emotional, versus what's more in line with the content.

[00:51:17] KF: I feel like it comes back to your previous comment around audience and just knowing your audience and what fits that audience, especially through voice. Like you said, in person, you have your gestures and your body language to go along with your voice. In this, you just have your isolated voice.

[00:51:31] JJ: Well, Rachel, I have learned so much from listening to your opinion. Thank you so much for being on the show with us. We've listened to all of the auditions, which means it's time for you to pick a winner.

[00:51:43] RA: Okay. So, this is always very hard, because I do feel that it's subjective. I'm going to put on an agency hat right now, and assume that I have been talking with this client, because there are so many people here, a number of them, that could get hired for this job. So, that's what I have to say. What I'm going to do is I'm going to put my agency hat on and say, “Okay, as I said before, the emotional content, who's my end user, I am looking for professional, but coach who can connect. I'm looking for somebody who is persuasive and articulate, but authentic. Also, somebody who has good studio quality.” So, I take the whole package, and I would probably choose the very first voice that we had.

I will tell you why I would choose that, because this person had a very sellable style in the marketplace. But she skirted that line really well in professional and casual. However, I would choose her and ask her to do a dry run with some direction, and the direction for her would be, “I'd like you to take it back, probably 20% to more casual”. And I'm guessing that she, because it was a little bit rigid and a little bit of a lack of connection on some of her list items there, but that would be my choice based on the specs of this job.

[00:53:07] JJ: Wonderful. Well, let's listen to audition number one, one more time.

[AUDITION 1]

[00:53:11] SPEAKER 1: Hi, and welcome to our on-demand video series from Pitch to Close. Designed to help you win new business, this course provides you with real world selling strategies right across the sales cycle. Equipped with video modules, including C level objection handling, qualifying opportunities, negotiating best practices and more, this is the perfect training program for anyone selling business to business products or services.

[00:53:39] JJ: Excellent choice, Rachel. She did a fantastic job. I'm sure she would be happy to receive your notes. Alright, so now that we've concluded our episode of Mission Audition, how can we get in touch with you?

[00:53:52] RA: Well, my website is rachelalena.com. That's the best way to get in touch with me. My email is [email protected] So, [email protected] If you send me an email, I'm happy to chat with you and answer any questions that I can and all of that good stuff. And again, my website's rachelalena.com.

[00:54:16] JJ: Wonderful. If this has just been a taste of what people can expect to working with you personally, I think there'll be in for a treat. I know I really enjoyed hearing you speak. So, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

[00:54:26] RA: Thank you guys. It's always so much fun. Appreciate it.

[00:54:29] KF: Yes. Thank you very much for joining us. Julianna, great to have you back in the booth. Thanks for joining us today as our special guest and look forward to doing some more with you.

[00:54:39] JJ: Yeah, thanks. It's great to be back. Alright, so wrapping up here. Remember to subscribe and listen so you can check out all of our episodes. You can also find the scripts that we use today over on our blog under the scripts section. Remember that you can find all of the scripts that we use on Mission Audition over on the blog.

That's it for us today. I'm Julianna Jones.

[00:55:03] KF: I'm Kyle Flynn.

[00:55:04] JJ: Be kind to yourself, keep practicing, and happy auditioning.

[END]

Geoff Bremner

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