Mission Audition Live: Commercial Reads with Mary Van De Velde

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    Knowing how to connect with your audience is a crucial element of working in the voice over industry – a skill nobody would advocate more than this week’s guest, Mary Van De Velde. A seasoned professional who has spent years as a radio traffic and news reporter for WGN-AM Chicago, Mary joined co-hosts Stephanie and Julianna for a special live recording of the podcast at VoiceWorld Chicago (hosted by Voices.com). In this episode, they listen to a handful of commercial reads and discuss tips for delivering a message, using inflection in your voice, how to get your best read in front of a client, and why processed audio isn’t necessarily a good idea for auditions.

    About Mary Van De Velde

    Mary has 20 plus years in the voiceover business, having done work in both industrial and commercial use from eLearning applications to radio and TV commercials. As a radio traffic and news reporter on WGN-AM Chicago’s morning show, Mary has also recorded numerous commercials and promos, while also doing live reads on a daily basis.

    In May of 2018, Mary was inducted into the WGN Walk of Fame after 21 years of professional and dedicated service to one of Chicago’s top radio stations.

    She has a Broadcast Journalism degree from the University of Illinois, where she started her media career working in news at WPGU and the local PBS station. Then she traveled to the northwoods of Wisconsin and worked as a News Director at a tri-state station. Her news career continued in Madison, WI., and the Quad Cities, before she made her way back to the big market of Chicago. She has worked at a number of stations in the Chicagoland area, including the Illinois News Network, Satellite Music Network, WTMX, WSCR, and WMAQ.

    Mary lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband Steve and has three grown children and two grandchildren. When not in her home recording studio, she’s dancing in a ballroom dance studio, or sewing, running, biking or spending time in the woods of Wisconsin.

    Visit Mary’s Voices.com profile here: https://www.voices.com/actors/mvan

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Welcome to Mission Audition. I’m Stephanie Ciccarelli …

    Julianna Jones:
    And I’m Julianna Jones.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Oh my goodness. So much fun. We’re here in Chicago. We’re live. Come on everyone. Just let them know you’re here. Come on. Yeah. Yeah. Chicago. Chicago. Oh my goodness. We just love the deep dish pizza we had last night. I know my stomach is still full. And we’ve got the coolest set up. I’m telling you, as a voice major this is … I went and I touched the piano. I touched it and I was like, “I have to play this thing.” It’s behind like a gate. If anyone can see it from the stage, it’s so beautiful.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    But anyway, that is not the purpose of today’s show. Today’s show, we are going to like we do every time we do this show, we are going to adjudicate auditions from wonderful voice talents on voices.com who have decided to join in the fun. And in this case we have a job that is … it’s a commercial spot. Because we are in a commercial town. So, I know that’s something I’ve learned about Chicago. This is an ad town. So, anyway. But before we talk about that job, because if you’re a listener, you know that we do this every time, we talk a little bit about what’s going on, but then we turn it over to our guests.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So Mary Van De Velde, welcome to Mission Audition.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. Welcome to Chicago.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. Thank you. So if you wouldn’t mind, Mary, just tell us a bit about yourself and your career and just what you love about doing voice-overs and your work in broadcast.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Well, let’s see. My name is Mary Van De Velde. I’m at WGN Radio is my main job during the day. I’m a traffic reporter on the morning show. I’ve been there over 22 years. I do voice-overs work basically as my side business, but it is my fun hobby. I absolutely love it. I wish I could do it full-time. Unfortunately, I need the insurance but I will eventually do it. When I retire, I will do it full-time. But right now, it’s just something fun I love to do. And I live in the Western Suburbs. I’m married with two kids and my grandma, too.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. Two granddaughters.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. But what’s really, really cool is that you’ve been inducted into the Hall of Fame or the Walk of Fame at your radio station. I think that’s really sweet. 20 years. This woman has been in the business for 20 years. That’s amazing.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. It’s actually longer, but I’m not going to say how much longer. Since I graduated from the University of Illinois, I had a broadcast journalism degree there. So basically I’ve been in media my whole life in some form or another. Mostly news.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So you might know what you’re about to talk about.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I read commercials on a daily basis besides voice-overs work. It’s just part of my job. I record them at the radio station as well. So I do hear them every day. And kind of know what to listen.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    We are going to start listening to these auditions. Are we ready? We’re ready to do this? Come on, Chicago. Hello. All right. Perfect. Okay. Thank you. That’s great. All righty. So we’ll talk about this job here. The job is a commercial as we were saying. We are looking for a young adult, middle age voice. Could be male or female. This is retail. We’re looking for somebody who can really bring this happy-go-lucky enduring sort of feeling in a general U.S. American accent. Julianna, what else do they need to do?

    Julianna Jones:
    So the job description we posted says, “Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbook is a cookbook series looking to give parents or grandparents inspiration for activities to do with children who want to lend a hand in the kitchen. A 30 second script has been provided for an online Internet ad that will be used internationally. And the artistic direction, the right voice for this project will be a family person that can help to inspire other families with children to experiment with food preparation and cooking.” So use a happy-go-lucky style while staying warm and endearing, and avoid going over the top silly.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Okay. So there are six auditions, and we will get going with audition number one.

    Audition 1:
    Do you have a little kitchen helper that would love their own cookbooks? The Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbooks for kids are fun for every occasion. Let the kids make you breakfast from the Toast the Most breakfast book, or make lunch together from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. It’s fun for children ages three to 10. Visit littlekitchenhelper.com to order yours today.

    Julianna Jones:
    What a lovely voice. What do you think, Mary?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I totally agree. I think her voice is the perfect young adult that you’re looking for right off the bat. When I heard this, first off, the sound quality, I had an issue with that. To me, there was a strange sound quality. It was a little muffled. She has a little bit … her pausing, I didn’t like some of the pausing. But I love her tone and I love her pace. Her pace was good, except for some of the pausing that she stopped before she said the name of the … what was the name of it? Yeah. The Little Kitchen. She just kind of said cheese … she stopped. But other than that. I thought she perfectly fit the category and what you’re looking for.

    Julianna Jones:
    So do you mean that her pauses were too long or her pauses were too short?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Too long.

    Julianna Jones:
    Too long?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yes.

    Julianna Jones:
    And what kind of a pause would you have liked? Could you give us an example?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Well, she said … I’m trying to find the sentence here. From the recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. She kind of paused and really enunciated it too much. She should have just kind of … from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. She could have just kind of toned her voice a little higher and just ran through it.

    Julianna Jones:
    Smooth it out a little?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah. Smooth it out a little bit. Just a little too choppy. But otherwise, I think she’s got a great, young sound. Perfect voice.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Really was nice.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. I liked her sound too. It was really, really nice. And sometimes you just know when you hear something, yeah, that fits. That sounds like what I would expect to hear. Voices when we’re thinking about how do we listen just to voice-overs and to know which one is the right one. Brand sound does factor in as a key proponent over what is going to work. So, we’ve got more auditions to go, so I certainly want to move us along to our next one. But I think we could all agree that that was a nice read. That was a nice read.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Solid.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. Let’s roll audition number two.

    Audition 2:
    Do you have a little kitchen helper that would love their own cookbooks? The Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbooks for kids are fun for every occasion. Let the kids make you breakfast from the Toast the Most breakfast book, or make lunch together from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. It’s fun for children ages three to 10. Visit littlekitchenhelper.com to order yours today.

    Julianna Jones:
    So polished. Yeah. Really nice.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah. You can tell right away that he has got the announcer type. And that, in this read, might be his hindrance, unfortunately. I think he was a little … sounded a little too old for the category and for what you’re trying to sell Little Kitchen Cookbooks. I think his age was … other than that, I think that was his only thing that would not get him the job. He had great pace. I loved the ending, how he went up. Order yours today. Some voice-overs coaches will say, “Don’t ever end going up.” I disagree with that. I think sometimes you need to end going up. Because this gets you more excited. Order yours today, instead of order yours today. You know? Everybody like … get rid of that monotone and go up a little bit at the end. So sometimes it works, and I think it really worked with his. Unfortunately, I think his voice was a little too announcery. Otherwise …

    Julianna Jones:
    Have you ever been booked for a job and they coached you through things like that? Like if you’re-

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Oh yes.

    Julianna Jones:
    … a correct brand fit? Yeah.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    They’ll help you along. And that’s what’s good when you are. Unfortunately, sometimes when you are auditioning with voices.com, you don’t have all that direction. So, you may want to, perhaps if it’s short enough, do a couple different takes and go up on one. Go down on the other.

    Julianna Jones:
    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Mary Van De Velde:
    And say, “Not sure what you want, but try it both ways.”

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. I’d like to park here for a minute. So you said something interesting and that was too announcery. Who out here has heard that before? Oh, too announcery. Don’t sound like an announcer. Non-announcery. Yeah? Yeah. You’ve probably seen that direction. So what does that mean, Mary? Because there’s a lot of people who do actually come up through broadcast, and they’re used to saying things a certain way. You’ve got your on-air personality. Sometimes people in radio have some trouble doing voice-overs because it’s a bit of a transition where you need to move from the on-air personality into actually an acting role. Because you do a lot of narration work, you do a lot of other sorts of work take the skillset.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So what would you say someone can do to sound less announcery and to sound more like it’s a conversation or a voice-overs in this sense?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Sometimes I think that is my biggest struggle, is my number one struggle because I am an announcer. That’s what I do everyday. I announce traffic. I announce and when I read commercials on air, I do sound too announcery. But to sound a little more conversation, one coach told me this once and he said, “Pretend like you’re talking to a friend. So when you start to read the sentence, put the friend’s name in front of it.” So Steve … then start talking. And it really helps me. So a lot of times I’ll just be reading a sentence and I’ll put one of my friends who is on my good side at that time so that I’ll sound a little more bubbly. Or if it’s a script where you have to sound mean, somebody-

    Julianna Jones:
    Perfect.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    … you’re really kind of mad at the time. One of your kids or whatever and put their name at the front. And then it kind of helps you to sound more conversation.

    Julianna Jones:
    That’s a great tip. Yeah. Absolutely.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. I like that. I like the inserting the name and thinking of someone in particular, because voice-overs is very much speaking to an audience of one person. Although it’s being heard by countless who knows how many, you actually are speaking to an individual and you have to reach them on that level. Right on the heart level. So good comments there, Mary. That’s awesome. All right. Are we ready to move to audition number three? Yeah? Okay. Well, let’s do it.

    Audition 3:
    Do you have a little kitchen helper that would love their own cookbooks? The Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbooks for kids are fun for every occasion. Let the kids make you breakfast from the Toast the Most breakfast book, or make lunch together from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. It’s fun for children ages three to 10. Visit littlekitchenhelper.com to order yours today.

    Audition 3:
    Take two.

    Audition 3:
    Do you have a little kitchen helper that would love their own cookbooks? The Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbooks for kids are fun for every occasion. Let the kids make you breakfast from the Toast the Most breakfast book, or make lunch together from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. It’s fun for children ages three to 10. Visit littlekitchenhelper.com to order yours today.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    We have a read with two takes. I don’t know. I think this is something and we’re going to bring this up on the panel later with our client guest. But what do you think, Mary? Is this something people should do? In your experience has it been effective?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Well, sometimes they ask for a couple different takes. This one they didn’t. But it was only 23 seconds long. To me, under 30 is okay for two takes. If it’s anything more than that, I think you should watch it. But because this read and her reads were a little bit different, I think it was a good idea to do that in this. But always explain it in your proposal. Say, “Attached, you will find two different reads or two takes”, just so that they, like Stephanie said, they won’t cut you off right away before you hear take two.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Well, and I don’t know if you noticed, but as soon as the first take ended, I looked back to you because I was ready to start talking about it. And so many times when a client is … Dan can talk about this, but when a client is listening, they make up their mind very quickly about whether they like your voice or not. So if you don’t let them know up front that you have two takes, you’re not going to get the chance to be listened to, to the second one. So definitely you can add it into your proposal, but I would, in addition to that, slate two takes or how ever many at the very beginning of your audition so you prepare the client so they know to listen through to the whole thing. Because if you don’t, they might miss that really good second take that you did.

    Julianna Jones:
    So it’s very easy an actual tip. Just remember it. Usually, this just applies to commercial or animation reads. Generally for a business read or like a medical narration read, you really don’t need two takes because it’s such straightforward direction. But if you have something that’s more in the commercial animation, something fun, you want to give it your own little spin, let them know two takes up front.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So if you are going to do it, make sure you let someone know it’s there, because otherwise they’d be like, “Oh.” Or it’s a waste of your time, frankly, if you don’t tell them because they won’t know to listen for it. And that’s another point I want to talk about is just how long it takes to listen, right? When someone is listening to a voice-overs audition, it really doesn’t take long to know if you’re actually going to keep listening, right? So people will listen but they will only listen for so long until they know. So, I don’t want to say half a second or a second, but sometimes that’s all it takes. If it’s about brand sound, can I see this voice as being the one that’s in my head? Is that the one that’s reading to me right now? If it isn’t, then they have every right to say, “Okay. I’m moving on to the next audition.”

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So absolutely. If you’re going to two, let them know right up front. But just know that when people are listening, sometimes they just want that consistency where they’re like they know what to expect, because they’re just listening for exactly what they think. Because if they listen to a bunch of auditions all in a row, then they might expect that they are similar in some way. So just keep that in mind. Proposal, absolutely, Mary. A great place to pop that into. But yeah. If you don’t put it in audibly they may never know as well. Because they may not actually get to the proposal. It depends.

    Julianna Jones:
    She really enunciated on words like love or every and I really thought that she did a good job kind of going through the script and pulling out those power words. Like those words that mean something. Is that something that you do? Do you mark up your script for things like that when you’re sitting down to do an audition?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Sometimes.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I just seem to find the power words. But I really don’t mark them up like that. And I think her read, she has more of a sultry type of delivery. I liked her voice because it was different than the happy-go-lucky young girl chipper voice. She was a little more sultry. She still sounded young, though. I thought sometimes in the first read she sounded a little bored and was just reading. But that was just my take. But the second take was definitely better.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. I would say, you know what I would say, is she should have put the second read first. Honestly. Like for this kind of thing, if I had known that was on the other side of that read, I would have booked the other read. I would have stopped listening the first one. I tell you, you listen for-

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Cut and paste. Move them.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    … half a second and you’re done. But I mean … and I want to make sure that everyone in the room knows because we did not say this, before we begin, is that everything that we say on this podcast is meant to build people up. It’s to be edifying. This is no way to tear anyone down. This is to celebrate what people have brought forward and to help them to learn what they can do. Basically speaking the truth and love. So, yeah. There are some hard lessons in here, but they are coming from the absolute best place. So I want everyone to know that.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    And everybody has good qualities and then sometimes they’re-

    Julianna Jones:
    Totally. You don’t know what you don’t know.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    … not for the job. It’s just they’re not right for the job. Their voice. That’s it.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. You can’t take that personally.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    No.

    Julianna Jones:
    And I mean, I know we’ve heard so many times that there is a lot of rejection in this industry, but I mean there’s a lot of rejection in life. So, it’s good to get used to. Right? That’s true.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    That’s funny. It’s funny. You can laugh.

    Julianna Jones:
    Just because you’re not right for one role, doesn’t mean you’re not going to be right for another role. So-

    Mary Van De Velde:
    And it’s totally subjective with everybody who listens.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Oh my goodness. Even if we’re listening to three of them, there have been so many times where I’m like, “I liked this person.” Stephanie likes this person. It’s so personal preference so you can’t take it personally at all. I mean, there are things that you can do that are more right or wrong when it comes to taking a part of script. But when it comes to the tone of your voice, the more you audition, the more jobs you realize are out there and the more different styles you realize that are out there. And there really is a job for every voice. Yeah. We kind of noticed. Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So we have our fourth audition playing right now.

    Audition 4:
    Do you have a little kitchen helper that would love their own cookbooks? The Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbooks for kids are fun for every occasion. Let the kids make you breakfast from the Toast the Most breakfast book, or make lunch together from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. It’s fun for children ages three to 10. Visit littlekitchenhelper.com to order yours today.

    Julianna Jones:
    I thought she did a great job being really clear when she was saying visit littlekitchenhelper.com. That’s like the main call to action from the script, and it’s something and well with any call to action you have to be super clear about it, but I thought that that was really well done. Not too over enunciated. Just really nice. What about you? What do you think, Mary?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah. I thought she had a really good, good pace. Once again, a good age bracket sound. She did a lot of, like I talked about before, going down in her sentences and she ended it down. And that is something that can be fixed very easily, if you just give her a little … if she got the job or whatever you could just say, “Hey, could you rise up a little bit here.” Just a little bit of direction. But yeah. I thought she had really good pace, otherwise like you said, too.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. She was really lovely to listen to. You could hear the smile in her voice, and that’s so important. I remember on an episode we just did that hasn’t been released, but the coach was saying we are very empathetic people. So whatever we’re feeling, the audience will feel. So you got to check whatever’s at the door going into your studio. Kind of like we were joking about before. But smiling is so important. I mean, I know a voice talent who would put rubber ducks on top of their screen because it made them smile. Or they’ll even put a mirror in front of them, so they make sure they’re smiling as they’re reading. And this is totally the type of script where you want to make sure, like happy-go-lucky. You want to … my cheeks hurt by the end of it. Like you’ve got a permagrin on. Because that way, even if you do end like up or down or just in the middle on a sentence, it still gives that happy feeling to it.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah. Another way if you want to get a little more energy, stand up instead of sitting down. I know I sit all day at my job, and I wish I could had a mic that was up so I could stand, because that helps a lot. And using your arms, you know? Just do what you got to do. I mean, who’s watching you? You know?

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Exactly.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Unless you have the mirror in there.

    Julianna Jones:
    I mean, besides your dog.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I don’t want to look at myself. So I’m not doing that. But I definitely think that anything you can do to make yourself more animated and a smile is really good. Whenever you got something, a script like this, you have to be smiling.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Absolutely.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Or it’s not going to come out.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Who here smiles when they read voice-overs auditions? Got some hands. Oh. Look at that. Three quarters of you. That’s great. And who here stands when they audition? Wow. Wow. That’s really awesome. Because it does give you all that breath support. It’s a lot easier to come by when you can stand. The diaphragmatic support. But also it’s just more freeing, as you said, Mary. Because if you need to move … okay. One more question. Who here cannot voice unless they use their hands? Like you honestly cannot use your voice as well?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Try it some time. It’s hard.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. It’s hard. I know. For those of us who talk with our hands, it’s second nature. You need to. If you couldn’t use your hands, you’re kind of like constricted in a way, right? So all good points. I know that this is a weird thing for me to do. I’m holding my hands behind my back for those of you who cannot see. But if you do have to sit, though, you need to find ways to still feel energized and to have that same momentum that you would have but also the same access to the breath. That’s very important. So you don’t end up with vocal fry or something like that.

    Julianna Jones:
    Well, I’ve even remember some of our other coaches have said things like you use your hands to enunciate each point. So like little kitchen helper. Right? And it’s just a little mental … I know like me, I come from just hearing this all the time. So I picked up a lot of beginner tips. And I think that that’s probably one of my favorites. And I remember if I’m on the phone, I actually have to use a headset because I talk with my hands so much. And when you don’t have your body to rely on to convey what emotion you’re feeling, your voice becomes so important and that expressiveness is so important getting any kind of message across.

    Julianna Jones:
    And if you’re someone’s brand voice, you’re being paid to get a message across. Yeah. Do what you got to do.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Right. And again, no one can see you. Right?

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Thank goodness.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    No one can see you. But if you were on camera, if you’re in the stage, people can obviously see you. So maybe you have to be a little more careful with how you gesticulate or move. And movement is very important for any voice professional. Any actor. Any anything. But what’s really awesome is that, as Mary said, no one can see you. You can even choose not to see yourself, frankly. But whatever you need to do that gets you to that place where your voice just feels free, then that’s a great thing to do.

    Julianna Jones:
    Mary, did you ever record voice-overs in your sweatpants at home?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    You don’t want to know what I wear. Usually my pajamas. It’s usually bedtime.

    Julianna Jones:
    Oh, I mean, that’s a pretty good life. So you get to be paid to do work in your pajamas.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Oh yeah. Oh definitely.

    Julianna Jones:
    It’s not bad. It’s not bad.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    No makeup. You don’t have to curl your hair.

    Julianna Jones:
    Right?

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    No 4:30 AM drives into town.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    That’s right. Yeah. That’s what voice-overs can do for you all.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Any time of the day you can do it.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Absolutely. It’s like a three step walk to your studio in some cases depending on where your studio is. It could be that home … the closet in your bedroom.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Actually, what’s your studio at home like?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    It’s my daughter’s old bedroom.

    Julianna Jones:
    Nice.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    After she moved out. And it’s just a corner that I have soundproof. And it works. My only dilemma is the house is very close, so the guy next door, when he is mowing the lawn, I have to be very careful because it’s kind of loud. So I have stuff over the window. It works. I mean, you know.

    Julianna Jones:
    Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely.

    Julianna Jones:
    It doesn’t have to be pretty. It just has to sound good.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    No. No.

    Julianna Jones:
    Absolutely.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    And I like to wear headphones. I know some people don’t. But I really need to wear headphones. I like to hear myself. My whole self. Not anything extraneous. So …

    Julianna Jones:
    So you are both ears then? Because I know some talent like to do one ear on and the other off.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Oh no. I do both.

    Julianna Jones:
    And you like both ears?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    At work, I have one. Usually one off. Because if I need to hear somebody else cue me for something. But no. Otherwise, I … Big old headphones.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Do you do a lot of post-production? And would you do any post-production on a script like this, like adding music or anything like that for your audition?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I do not do post-production. No. I’ve been in … I’m not that technically good.

    Julianna Jones:
    I mean, you don’t have to be. That is why there are producers-

    Mary Van De Velde:
    It’s just something I don’t like to do. And I stay away from those jobs that ask you to do it. Some people love to do it. So by all means, it’s fun. It is interesting. But I have friends that can help me with that if I really need to.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Right. And the script didn’t call for it either, right?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    No.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So that’s something to remember is that if you aren’t following instructions, then you can also be a quick and easy person to not hire. If you’re not being true to what the author’s intent is, what the direction is, what that creative producer is wanting you to do, then they frankly have every right to move to the next audition. So always keep that in mind.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    The only thing I wanted to say about that, a lot of narrative reads, if they’re coming from a foreign country, a different place, sometimes they are not grammatically correct. I have taken it upon myself to change that grammar. And I think they do appreciate it when you do do that. Some jobs I don’t. I’m like, “Oh boy. This is really … ” Plus I was a journalism major, so I see these things and I just want to cringe. Or sentences that go on and on and on. And that’s another thing. You really have to practice the breathing when you see a medical read or whatever that it’s just going on and on and on.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    So, yeah. I would go ahead and change some of the grammatically incorrect copy in that way, but not anything like this. A quick commercial read, no.

    Julianna Jones:
    I can tell you to give you a little insight into maybe sometimes why those poorly translated audition scripts happen is a lot of the times, if a client comes to us with a bigger project like I have an English script and it needs to be translated into 12 different languages. So we need to cast for each of the languages, while the scripts are being professionally translated by whatever company we’re using. We’ll just quick and easy use Google Translate to get the script into the talent’s native language. And so even though it looks like it’s … well, it is poorly translated. The final project won’t be poorly translated. It’s just so that we can give the auditions to the clients so they can choose them. We can keep everything moving along at a good clip.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Good point.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. But I really do want to tap into your skillset here for a second. So if anyone comes from a writing background or they have some kind of a journalistic background and you’re like, “Oh, this script. Man. Yuck.” You could say to the client, in your proposal, “I also do a copy editing. Or I have this other skillset. And my quote reflects that. So if you need this, this is what it would cost.” And so on, so on. So a lot of you have amazing talents and gifts that are really great for supplementary work around the voice-overs itself, be it copywriting, music production. I don’t know what else. It could be editing of some kind. Translation, possibly, even depending on what your proficiency of course is.

    Julianna Jones:
    Singing.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    I know that we have a-

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah. Singing.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    … I won’t name her, but we’ve got someone in here who can do that in Spanish to English. But this is really, really exciting area because you can develop more of your business. And we have to think of this as being a business. And so it’s not so much about just doing the read and getting it over with. This is like your … this is what should make you happy and give you that motivation to continue doing voice-overs, because you love it and because you can add value to it. So we are going to move on to audition number five.

    Audition 5:
    Do you have a little kitchen helper that would love their own cookbooks? The Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbooks for kids are fun for every occasion. Let the kids make you breakfast from the Toast the Most breakfast book, or make lunch together from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. It’s fun for children ages three to 10. Visit littlekitchenhelper.com to order yours today.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    What a nice voice.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah.

    Julianna Jones:
    The tone was just lovely.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Beautiful voice.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    He sounds like a guy who can sound old or young. I can’t figure out how old he is. I was trying to listen and I’m like, “Hmm, this guy could be in his 20s or he could be in his 50s.” Which is a very … when you have that kind of talent, you have that kind of voice that you can use it all over the place. So that’s what I really liked about him. The only thing I noticed, he must have done some sound mixing in there. Some effects. And I don’t like to add a lot of effects to my voice, and I know a lot of clients don’t like that either. So that’s what I would stay away from. Just adding too many effects. And his maybe was a little … did you guys notice that? I don’t know. I just-

    Julianna Jones:
    A little heavy on the post-production?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yes. Yes. But I loved his voice otherwise. It was just …

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. To be honest, I didn’t notice. I didn’t notice because I’m not an audio engineer, and I’m not someone who produces anything. But I think one of the main reasons why I didn’t notice is because I just liked it so much. And that I wasn’t distracted. And I thought he did a good job. And that’s one thing about voice-overs is that if the audience doesn’t believe you, if they’re not with you on the ride, if you can’t capture them in the palm of your hand, then there’s like a suspension of their disbelief and they’re like, “I don’t get it.” But with him, I wasn’t concerned with that. Maybe it’s in there, but I didn’t know, and I think the average client wouldn’t know either.

    Julianna Jones:
    Well, okay. So I have two things. I wrote them down to make sure I talk about. One, we talked about being authentic in your reads. What if you’re just not feeling the script? How do you make it authentic? How do you make it so that you sound like you’re just totally this is great for ages three to 10? How do you make that sound good?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Well, I think you have to envision yourself in that character and hopefully they will give you a description. But a lot of jobs don’t. So you kind of have to really think. And a lot of them will just say, “Mom.” Or whatever. And if it’s a mom read, which I tend to do a lot of because I’m a mom, and so I go, “Oh, I can do this. I’m a mom.” Well, just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean I’m going to sound good doing it. Everybody is … a lot of people are moms. So I kind of think of what the product is and then kind of think of one of my kids. Or, a situation with somebody. Character with my kids in the house or how I would talk to them about it or something like that. You just got to put yourself in that character and that’s where the acting comes in. You know?

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So would you say that’s more method acting for you, Mary? Because other people build these really elaborate back stories and they’ve got, oh, and this is their favorite sports team. And this is a time they eat breakfast and blah, blah, blah.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    No.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    No? You don’t go there? No.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    No. I mean, you don’t want to spend that much time. If you’re doing, I don’t know how many auditions you guys do a day. I do an average of probably 10 to 20. I don’t know if that’s a lot.

    Julianna Jones:
    No. That’s perfect.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I don’t know … It’s probably average I would say. But you don’t want to sit there and spend 15 minutes on each audition because you would drive yourself bonkers. You know, every five minutes. Maybe three or four is … So you got to put yourself in character really quick. So you don’t want to think about it, all the characteristics of one person and what they do and what eat for breakfast. It would take you forever.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    I think in audiobooks, that might be a … may be more of a common thing. Or character development.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yes. Oh, definitely.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    But when you’re reading just a commercial, like as you’re saying, then it really doesn’t take that much. You just have to get yourself in the right frame of mind. So some talent have like these archetypes that they’ll pull out. Here’s my soccer mom read. Here’s my, I don’t know, my teacher read. Or here’s my whatever it might be. My coach read. And they just go there. So do you have like a little inventory of voices in your head that you can say, “Oh, here’s a job that would call on this one. I’m just going to use it”?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I think I’m starting to establish that. All of a sudden I find myself doing the same voice again and I’m like, oh. I want to change this a little bit or go softer or go … I don’t know. And then you get into a rut and you start doing the same thing all the time. So don’t get in a rut. Change it up. And just before you read it, say, “Am I sounding like I just sounded yesterday in this exact type of read?” Or do two takes, then. That’s the perfect time to do two takes, if it’s under 20 seconds.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. And if you’ve been recording and keeping all your auditions, of course you can go back and listen to them over time, right? So you can obviously like, “Oh, all my auditions in the last two weeks have really sounded angry. What’s the deal with me?” Right?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    You might have to look inside yourself and be like, “What?” Because I think you kind of hinted at this earlier, Julianna, but if there’s something that’s weighing on you or you’re going through something in your own personal life, that will get into your read. You may not think it will, but if you’re dealing with a loss. If you’re ill and you’re trying to talk through something. Just little things and little intricate things, right? Like your instrument, it not only conveys tone and phonemes and all these other things. It actually … part of you comes out every time you read.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    But sometimes it helps as well, if you’re grieving for a reason and you’re reading a sympathetic thing. I remember my mom passed away a year ago and it really … it was awful for me. But I had some reads that were that and I just thought of my mom. And I think she really helped me with those auditions. So-

    Julianna Jones:
    That’s authentic.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    So bring it on. You know?

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Absolutely.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Use … That works too.

    Julianna Jones:
    Well, I even remember it somebody else told me that they were doing a … it was also a pretty sad spot. And I think that they went and watched some really sad war scene, which just brought them to tears. And then they went straight to the microphone. And so sometimes even if you don’t personally have an experience to draw from, there are lots of resources online where you can watch something that’ll help to put you in that mindset if your imagination, maybe, is failing you at the moment. Yeah. And actually, the second point, post-production. So if you edit your voice in your audition so that it doesn’t sound like you and then once you get hired, they ask you to do a live session, can you imagine how embarrassing that would be if you couldn’t replicate that sound when they had hired you to do it? Or how ticked the client would be? You would lose that client right away. They’re not going to hire you again. So when you’re doing any post-production, you want to sound like yourself, but just the best version of yourself, right?

    Julianna Jones:
    So don’t go crazy on the post-production. You want to make sure that you leave room for the editor to do their thing, not take over their job. Your job is to do the voice-overs. So just little edits here and there so that there’s not the sound of a microphone because you’re tapping or your lips are smacking together. Just little things like that and let them take care of the rest.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    If you go and get someone to make your demo, make sure that you can develop some skills to get to the same level that that demo was made at, so you can at least match the demo. Because years ago, this happened on our platform where someone was hired literally off their demo. The demo was not produced in their studio by them. It was produced by someone else who was obviously trying to make them sound as best as they can. And that’s the whole purpose of a demo is to illustrate the artistic abilities of a talent. But in this day and age, the talent is not just the talent. The talent is audio engineer. The talent is booth director. The talent is, in some cases, any number of things under the sun that you might need to do as the voice artist.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So just keep that in mind that when you go in and you think, “Oh, I’m going to do this voice-overs thing”, it isn’t just the voice that matters. It’s also your technical skills. So there’s all kinds of different tutorials online. You can even take lessons, I would expect. You go to any kind of music studio or a place that sells instruments, and they may very well be able to teach you a thing or two. They might have lessons or sessions that they run on how to do Audacity. How to work in GarageBand. Whatever it might be that you’re using. Adobe Audition for that matter.

    Julianna Jones:
    So speaking of demos, how many demos do you have, Mary?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    On voices.com? I have about 11, I think, at this time. So some of them might be my old demos. I have commercial, narrative, obviously. Then I have various commercials that I’ve done on the radio station. I threw those on. Might as well. Or like a read about a sarcastic mom or something like that. So I just … Yeah. I have about 11.

    Julianna Jones:
    How often do you refresh them?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Not often enough.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah? Yeah?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I really should be working on that, too. And that’s another thing. You should be refreshing your profile. And I should talk because I got to work on that.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yep.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Definitely. That’s something I have to do.

    Julianna Jones:
    Good motivation to go back home.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Or your templates. I don’t know if you guys use templates. I use the templates. It’s great to have those. It saves you so much time. But change of word here and there sometimes in your templates every once in a while.

    Julianna Jones:
    I guess for your situation it would be a little bit different because you’ve been doing this for so long that you probably were pretty comfortable in front of the mic in getting your demos done. But there are a lot of talent and when you get your professional demo done, it’s a very personal decision. I know talent who have gotten their demo done right away and it sounds just fabulous and they can replicate it.

    Julianna Jones:
    And I know talent that have decided to work with their coach for a year before they do their demo because it’s such an investment. And you want to make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward. And some people have the natural ability to put their best foot forward right off the bat. And some people need to practice for a year and then get to know what kind of styles clients like to hire about their voice. And then they’ll use those like jobs that they’ve booked as like, okay. These are the styles that I want to replicate in my demo. So then they’ll go and find their producer and say, “Hey. Here’s kind of what I’m thinking.”

    Julianna Jones:
    And then their producer will work with them to put together their demo around those things that have made them successful. So there’s just a couple of different styles, and I know that Donovan on the panel afterwards is a great demo producer. And maybe he’s someone that can answer a couple of more questions along those lines.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    And I always say, when you do get your first demo done before you finish it, and before you accept it, have at least 10 people listen to it. And they’ll all give you different opinions, of course. But you can take a couple different cues from each one of them and that really helps too.

    Julianna Jones:
    Oh, cool.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I did that and people really had different … take that one out. Oh, that’s terrible. Put that one back in. So you never know. You end up doing what you want to do, because you should. You’re spending the money. So do what you want to do to make yourself sound the best. But take the other people’s opinions as well.

    Julianna Jones:
    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Fantastic.

    Julianna Jones:
    Crowd source.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Wow. That’s great. Quick show of hands. Who here has a professionally produced demo already?

    Julianna Jones:
    Oh wow. That’s awesome.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    All right. Cool. Who has made some of their own at home?

    Julianna Jones:
    Nice.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Cool.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yep.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    That’s awesome. All right. So, we’ve got one more audition, every one. I know you’ve been sitting patiently. We are almost at the part where we are going to ask Mary to pick the winner, but obviously-

    Mary Van De Velde:
    It’s so hard.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    … we got to listen to one more. I know. The task. The burden on her shoulders. Amazing. So, anyway. We will listen to our last audition. This is audition number six.

    Audition 6:
    Do you have a little kitchen helper that would love their own cookbooks? The Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbooks for kids are fun for every occasion. Let the kids make you breakfast from the Toast the Most breakfast book, or make lunch together from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. It’s fun for children ages three to 10. Visit littlekitchenhelper.com to order yours today.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Okay. So as you’ve noticed, she did not finish the audition. I love this girl. I mean, she sounds great. She’s the right sound. She was enunciating properly. I just thought she just sounded great. And then I’m like, “Where’s the dot com?” I was waiting for the line. And then I realized she didn’t finish it. And in something like this, which like I said is 23 seconds long, you really need to finish it. Especially when there’s a website.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Totally.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    People love to hear what their website is going to sound like. Because a lot of people whip through the websites. Like you said before, they need to be enunciated a little better. Or a phone number. You know? You really need to get the … If the phone number is said four times, like it is when I read phone numbers, then you got to read fast. Then you can … three, one, one, zero. Get out of there. But the first couple times you read the phone numbers, you need to say them. It’s like when you do FDIC in the end of a bank commercial. Whip, whip, whip.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    My goodness. So Mary, I mean, obviously this isn’t part of our script, but how do you read fast? This is a skill that I’m sure others are curious.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Well, I do traffic reports for a living, so I read very fast.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Practice makes perfect.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    No. I’ve always been a fast reader. And that’s another struggle I have to slow down and really concentrate. So everybody has their struggles. But reading fast, I think it’s a skill, too, and it works for you and against you. But when you have like a lawyer commercial or a mortgage person, when you have the MLS numbers, that kind of thing, and … then it helps to have that fast skill. And sometimes they can, of course, engineers can quicken them up for you as well. But you know …

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yesterday in an Uber,

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. We had just had this discussion. Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Because it sounded like part of it was like a natural read. And then all of a sudden the guy did …

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Oh. Totally edited.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    It went on for like a 20 seconds of how is he doing this? Either he was sped up and-

    Mary Van De Velde:
    He was sped up.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    … what have you. But it’s like how do you maintain that kind of speed talking? Because there’s professional speed talkers, right? Guinness Book of World Records.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Auctioneers.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Auctioneers.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah. That’s a skill.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Oh my gosh. We’re actually going to get this done on time. Okay. It is 7:49 Central Time. So beautiful. I can’t believe we did it. So Mary, it’s time. Can we get a drum roll, please?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I can’t have a tie?

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Drum roll. No, no, no. There must only be one.

    Julianna Jones:
    Well, that being said, you can totally tell us who your runner up is and then who your winner is.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah.

    Julianna Jones:
    Absolutely.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Oh, fun.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Who would be the winner though.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Who do I go with first?

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah.

    Julianna Jones:
    Runner up and then winner.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Okay. Runner up would be number six. Some people might have chosen her and say, “Finish it for me.” But on voices.com, sometimes you don’t have that opportunity.

    Julianna Jones:
    Absolutely.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    So, sorry. I wish she would have finished it. So I’m going to go with number four.

    Julianna Jones:
    Whew.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Whew. All right.

    Julianna Jones:
    Nice.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Anybody else go with number four?

    Audience:
    Yes.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yep. Keeping score at home. Yep.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    All right. Now, if you don’t remember, she was the girl who sounded like number one. I mean, a lot of them do sound kind of similar. But she had really great pace and her age was proper. I did say I wanted her to do more with her endings. Because she was doing down a lot. But that can be-

    Julianna Jones:
    You can coach that.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    … coached out.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    All right.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    So I would go with number four.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Number four. Well, let’s listen to number four. We’ll remember together.

    Audition 4:
    Do you have a little kitchen helper that would love their own cookbooks? The Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbooks for kids are fun for every occasion. Let the kids make you breakfast from the Toast the Most breakfast book, or make lunch together from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. It’s fun for children ages three to 10. Visit littlekitchenhelper.com to order yours today.

    Julianna Jones:
    Lovely.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Wow. That is fantastic. Let’s give that talent a hand. It’s good. All right, Mary. I know you’ve got an early morning. You’re going to be back at it. 4:30 in the morning. Ouch.

    Julianna Jones:
    What time do you wake up?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    3:30.

    Julianna Jones:
    I’m in REM sleep. That’s incredible.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    It’s not bad. Not too many people on the road. Except-

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    That’s true. My goodness. Yep.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    … people who drink too much and a lot of semis.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So Mary, if we are going to hear a traffic report by you, what radio station do we tune in to into Chicago?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    WGN AM 720.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Awesome.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Well, thank you so much for joining us. Mary, it was a great pleasure to having you.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Thank you for having me.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Thanks so much.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Thank you.

    Step

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Welcome to Mission Audition. I’m Stephanie Ciccarelli …

    Julianna Jones:
    And I’m Julianna Jones.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Oh my goodness. So much fun. We’re here in Chicago. We’re live. Come on everyone. Just let them know you’re here. Come on. Yeah. Yeah. Chicago. Chicago. Oh my goodness. We just love the deep dish pizza we had last night. I know my stomach is still full. And we’ve got the coolest set up. I’m telling you, as a voice major this is … I went and I touched the piano. I touched it and I was like, “I have to play this thing.” It’s behind like a gate. If anyone can see it from the stage, it’s so beautiful.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    But anyway, that is not the purpose of today’s show. Today’s show, we are going to like we do every time we do this show, we are going to adjudicate auditions from wonderful voice talents on voices.com who have decided to join in the fun. And in this case we have a job that is … it’s a commercial spot. Because we are in a commercial town. So, I know that’s something I’ve learned about Chicago. This is an ad town. So, anyway. But before we talk about that job, because if you’re a listener, you know that we do this every time, we talk a little bit about what’s going on, but then we turn it over to our guests.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So Mary Van De Velde, welcome to Mission Audition.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. Welcome to Chicago.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. Thank you. So if you wouldn’t mind, Mary, just tell us a bit about yourself and your career and just what you love about doing voice-overs and your work in broadcast.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Well, let’s see. My name is Mary Van De Velde. I’m at WGN Radio is my main job during the day. I’m a traffic reporter on the morning show. I’ve been there over 22 years. I do voice-overs work basically as my side business, but it is my fun hobby. I absolutely love it. I wish I could do it full-time. Unfortunately, I need the insurance but I will eventually do it. When I retire, I will do it full-time. But right now, it’s just something fun I love to do. And I live in the Western Suburbs. I’m married with two kids and my grandma, too.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. Two granddaughters.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. But what’s really, really cool is that you’ve been inducted into the Hall of Fame or the Walk of Fame at your radio station. I think that’s really sweet. 20 years. This woman has been in the business for 20 years. That’s amazing.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. It’s actually longer, but I’m not going to say how much longer. Since I graduated from the University of Illinois, I had a broadcast journalism degree there. So basically I’ve been in media my whole life in some form or another. Mostly news.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So you might know what you’re about to talk about.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I read commercials on a daily basis besides voice-overs work. It’s just part of my job. I record them at the radio station as well. So I do hear them every day. And kind of know what to listen.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    We are going to start listening to these auditions. Are we ready? We’re ready to do this? Come on, Chicago. Hello. All right. Perfect. Okay. Thank you. That’s great. All righty. So we’ll talk about this job here. The job is a commercial as we were saying. We are looking for a young adult, middle age voice. Could be male or female. This is retail. We’re looking for somebody who can really bring this happy-go-lucky enduring sort of feeling in a general U.S. American accent. Julianna, what else do they need to do?

    Julianna Jones:
    So the job description we posted says, “Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbook is a cookbook series looking to give parents or grandparents inspiration for activities to do with children who want to lend a hand in the kitchen. A 30 second script has been provided for an online Internet ad that will be used internationally. And the artistic direction, the right voice for this project will be a family person that can help to inspire other families with children to experiment with food preparation and cooking.” So use a happy-go-lucky style while staying warm and endearing, and avoid going over the top silly.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Okay. So there are six auditions, and we will get going with audition number one.

    Audition 1:
    Do you have a little kitchen helper that would love their own cookbooks? The Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbooks for kids are fun for every occasion. Let the kids make you breakfast from the Toast the Most breakfast book, or make lunch together from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. It’s fun for children ages three to 10. Visit littlekitchenhelper.com to order yours today.

    Julianna Jones:
    What a lovely voice. What do you think, Mary?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I totally agree. I think her voice is the perfect young adult that you’re looking for right off the bat. When I heard this, first off, the sound quality, I had an issue with that. To me, there was a strange sound quality. It was a little muffled. She has a little bit … her pausing, I didn’t like some of the pausing. But I love her tone and I love her pace. Her pace was good, except for some of the pausing that she stopped before she said the name of the … what was the name of it? Yeah. The Little Kitchen. She just kind of said cheese … she stopped. But other than that. I thought she perfectly fit the category and what you’re looking for.

    Julianna Jones:
    So do you mean that her pauses were too long or her pauses were too short?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Too long.

    Julianna Jones:
    Too long?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yes.

    Julianna Jones:
    And what kind of a pause would you have liked? Could you give us an example?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Well, she said … I’m trying to find the sentence here. From the recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. She kind of paused and really enunciated it too much. She should have just kind of … from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. She could have just kind of toned her voice a little higher and just ran through it.

    Julianna Jones:
    Smooth it out a little?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah. Smooth it out a little bit. Just a little too choppy. But otherwise, I think she’s got a great, young sound. Perfect voice.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Really was nice.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. I liked her sound too. It was really, really nice. And sometimes you just know when you hear something, yeah, that fits. That sounds like what I would expect to hear. Voices when we’re thinking about how do we listen just to voice-overs and to know which one is the right one. Brand sound does factor in as a key proponent over what is going to work. So, we’ve got more auditions to go, so I certainly want to move us along to our next one. But I think we could all agree that that was a nice read. That was a nice read.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Solid.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. Let’s roll audition number two.

    Audition 2:
    Do you have a little kitchen helper that would love their own cookbooks? The Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbooks for kids are fun for every occasion. Let the kids make you breakfast from the Toast the Most breakfast book, or make lunch together from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. It’s fun for children ages three to 10. Visit littlekitchenhelper.com to order yours today.

    Julianna Jones:
    So polished. Yeah. Really nice.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah. You can tell right away that he has got the announcer type. And that, in this read, might be his hindrance, unfortunately. I think he was a little … sounded a little too old for the category and for what you’re trying to sell Little Kitchen Cookbooks. I think his age was … other than that, I think that was his only thing that would not get him the job. He had great pace. I loved the ending, how he went up. Order yours today. Some voice-overs coaches will say, “Don’t ever end going up.” I disagree with that. I think sometimes you need to end going up. Because this gets you more excited. Order yours today, instead of order yours today. You know? Everybody like … get rid of that monotone and go up a little bit at the end. So sometimes it works, and I think it really worked with his. Unfortunately, I think his voice was a little too announcery. Otherwise …

    Julianna Jones:
    Have you ever been booked for a job and they coached you through things like that? Like if you’re-

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Oh yes.

    Julianna Jones:
    … a correct brand fit? Yeah.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    They’ll help you along. And that’s what’s good when you are. Unfortunately, sometimes when you are auditioning with voices.com, you don’t have all that direction. So, you may want to, perhaps if it’s short enough, do a couple different takes and go up on one. Go down on the other.

    Julianna Jones:
    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Mary Van De Velde:
    And say, “Not sure what you want, but try it both ways.”

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. I’d like to park here for a minute. So you said something interesting and that was too announcery. Who out here has heard that before? Oh, too announcery. Don’t sound like an announcer. Non-announcery. Yeah? Yeah. You’ve probably seen that direction. So what does that mean, Mary? Because there’s a lot of people who do actually come up through broadcast, and they’re used to saying things a certain way. You’ve got your on-air personality. Sometimes people in radio have some trouble doing voice-overs because it’s a bit of a transition where you need to move from the on-air personality into actually an acting role. Because you do a lot of narration work, you do a lot of other sorts of work take the skillset.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So what would you say someone can do to sound less announcery and to sound more like it’s a conversation or a voice-overs in this sense?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Sometimes I think that is my biggest struggle, is my number one struggle because I am an announcer. That’s what I do everyday. I announce traffic. I announce and when I read commercials on air, I do sound too announcery. But to sound a little more conversation, one coach told me this once and he said, “Pretend like you’re talking to a friend. So when you start to read the sentence, put the friend’s name in front of it.” So Steve … then start talking. And it really helps me. So a lot of times I’ll just be reading a sentence and I’ll put one of my friends who is on my good side at that time so that I’ll sound a little more bubbly. Or if it’s a script where you have to sound mean, somebody-

    Julianna Jones:
    Perfect.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    … you’re really kind of mad at the time. One of your kids or whatever and put their name at the front. And then it kind of helps you to sound more conversation.

    Julianna Jones:
    That’s a great tip. Yeah. Absolutely.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. I like that. I like the inserting the name and thinking of someone in particular, because voice-overs is very much speaking to an audience of one person. Although it’s being heard by countless who knows how many, you actually are speaking to an individual and you have to reach them on that level. Right on the heart level. So good comments there, Mary. That’s awesome. All right. Are we ready to move to audition number three? Yeah? Okay. Well, let’s do it.

    Audition 3:
    Do you have a little kitchen helper that would love their own cookbooks? The Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbooks for kids are fun for every occasion. Let the kids make you breakfast from the Toast the Most breakfast book, or make lunch together from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. It’s fun for children ages three to 10. Visit littlekitchenhelper.com to order yours today.

    Audition 3:
    Take two.

    Audition 3:
    Do you have a little kitchen helper that would love their own cookbooks? The Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbooks for kids are fun for every occasion. Let the kids make you breakfast from the Toast the Most breakfast book, or make lunch together from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. It’s fun for children ages three to 10. Visit littlekitchenhelper.com to order yours today.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    We have a read with two takes. I don’t know. I think this is something and we’re going to bring this up on the panel later with our client guest. But what do you think, Mary? Is this something people should do? In your experience has it been effective?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Well, sometimes they ask for a couple different takes. This one they didn’t. But it was only 23 seconds long. To me, under 30 is okay for two takes. If it’s anything more than that, I think you should watch it. But because this read and her reads were a little bit different, I think it was a good idea to do that in this. But always explain it in your proposal. Say, “Attached, you will find two different reads or two takes”, just so that they, like Stephanie said, they won’t cut you off right away before you hear take two.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Well, and I don’t know if you noticed, but as soon as the first take ended, I looked back to you because I was ready to start talking about it. And so many times when a client is … Dan can talk about this, but when a client is listening, they make up their mind very quickly about whether they like your voice or not. So if you don’t let them know up front that you have two takes, you’re not going to get the chance to be listened to, to the second one. So definitely you can add it into your proposal, but I would, in addition to that, slate two takes or how ever many at the very beginning of your audition so you prepare the client so they know to listen through to the whole thing. Because if you don’t, they might miss that really good second take that you did.

    Julianna Jones:
    So it’s very easy an actual tip. Just remember it. Usually, this just applies to commercial or animation reads. Generally for a business read or like a medical narration read, you really don’t need two takes because it’s such straightforward direction. But if you have something that’s more in the commercial animation, something fun, you want to give it your own little spin, let them know two takes up front.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So if you are going to do it, make sure you let someone know it’s there, because otherwise they’d be like, “Oh.” Or it’s a waste of your time, frankly, if you don’t tell them because they won’t know to listen for it. And that’s another point I want to talk about is just how long it takes to listen, right? When someone is listening to a voice-overs audition, it really doesn’t take long to know if you’re actually going to keep listening, right? So people will listen but they will only listen for so long until they know. So, I don’t want to say half a second or a second, but sometimes that’s all it takes. If it’s about brand sound, can I see this voice as being the one that’s in my head? Is that the one that’s reading to me right now? If it isn’t, then they have every right to say, “Okay. I’m moving on to the next audition.”

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So absolutely. If you’re going to two, let them know right up front. But just know that when people are listening, sometimes they just want that consistency where they’re like they know what to expect, because they’re just listening for exactly what they think. Because if they listen to a bunch of auditions all in a row, then they might expect that they are similar in some way. So just keep that in mind. Proposal, absolutely, Mary. A great place to pop that into. But yeah. If you don’t put it in audibly they may never know as well. Because they may not actually get to the proposal. It depends.

    Julianna Jones:
    She really enunciated on words like love or every and I really thought that she did a good job kind of going through the script and pulling out those power words. Like those words that mean something. Is that something that you do? Do you mark up your script for things like that when you’re sitting down to do an audition?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Sometimes.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I just seem to find the power words. But I really don’t mark them up like that. And I think her read, she has more of a sultry type of delivery. I liked her voice because it was different than the happy-go-lucky young girl chipper voice. She was a little more sultry. She still sounded young, though. I thought sometimes in the first read she sounded a little bored and was just reading. But that was just my take. But the second take was definitely better.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. I would say, you know what I would say, is she should have put the second read first. Honestly. Like for this kind of thing, if I had known that was on the other side of that read, I would have booked the other read. I would have stopped listening the first one. I tell you, you listen for-

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Cut and paste. Move them.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    … half a second and you’re done. But I mean … and I want to make sure that everyone in the room knows because we did not say this, before we begin, is that everything that we say on this podcast is meant to build people up. It’s to be edifying. This is no way to tear anyone down. This is to celebrate what people have brought forward and to help them to learn what they can do. Basically speaking the truth and love. So, yeah. There are some hard lessons in here, but they are coming from the absolute best place. So I want everyone to know that.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    And everybody has good qualities and then sometimes they’re-

    Julianna Jones:
    Totally. You don’t know what you don’t know.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    … not for the job. It’s just they’re not right for the job. Their voice. That’s it.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. You can’t take that personally.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    No.

    Julianna Jones:
    And I mean, I know we’ve heard so many times that there is a lot of rejection in this industry, but I mean there’s a lot of rejection in life. So, it’s good to get used to. Right? That’s true.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    That’s funny. It’s funny. You can laugh.

    Julianna Jones:
    Just because you’re not right for one role, doesn’t mean you’re not going to be right for another role. So-

    Mary Van De Velde:
    And it’s totally subjective with everybody who listens.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Oh my goodness. Even if we’re listening to three of them, there have been so many times where I’m like, “I liked this person.” Stephanie likes this person. It’s so personal preference so you can’t take it personally at all. I mean, there are things that you can do that are more right or wrong when it comes to taking a part of script. But when it comes to the tone of your voice, the more you audition, the more jobs you realize are out there and the more different styles you realize that are out there. And there really is a job for every voice. Yeah. We kind of noticed. Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So we have our fourth audition playing right now.

    Audition 4:
    Do you have a little kitchen helper that would love their own cookbooks? The Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbooks for kids are fun for every occasion. Let the kids make you breakfast from the Toast the Most breakfast book, or make lunch together from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. It’s fun for children ages three to 10. Visit littlekitchenhelper.com to order yours today.

    Julianna Jones:
    I thought she did a great job being really clear when she was saying visit littlekitchenhelper.com. That’s like the main call to action from the script, and it’s something and well with any call to action you have to be super clear about it, but I thought that that was really well done. Not too over enunciated. Just really nice. What about you? What do you think, Mary?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah. I thought she had a really good, good pace. Once again, a good age bracket sound. She did a lot of, like I talked about before, going down in her sentences and she ended it down. And that is something that can be fixed very easily, if you just give her a little … if she got the job or whatever you could just say, “Hey, could you rise up a little bit here.” Just a little bit of direction. But yeah. I thought she had really good pace, otherwise like you said, too.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. She was really lovely to listen to. You could hear the smile in her voice, and that’s so important. I remember on an episode we just did that hasn’t been released, but the coach was saying we are very empathetic people. So whatever we’re feeling, the audience will feel. So you got to check whatever’s at the door going into your studio. Kind of like we were joking about before. But smiling is so important. I mean, I know a voice talent who would put rubber ducks on top of their screen because it made them smile. Or they’ll even put a mirror in front of them, so they make sure they’re smiling as they’re reading. And this is totally the type of script where you want to make sure, like happy-go-lucky. You want to … my cheeks hurt by the end of it. Like you’ve got a permagrin on. Because that way, even if you do end like up or down or just in the middle on a sentence, it still gives that happy feeling to it.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah. Another way if you want to get a little more energy, stand up instead of sitting down. I know I sit all day at my job, and I wish I could had a mic that was up so I could stand, because that helps a lot. And using your arms, you know? Just do what you got to do. I mean, who’s watching you? You know?

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Exactly.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Unless you have the mirror in there.

    Julianna Jones:
    I mean, besides your dog.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I don’t want to look at myself. So I’m not doing that. But I definitely think that anything you can do to make yourself more animated and a smile is really good. Whenever you got something, a script like this, you have to be smiling.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Absolutely.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Or it’s not going to come out.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Who here smiles when they read voice-overs auditions? Got some hands. Oh. Look at that. Three quarters of you. That’s great. And who here stands when they audition? Wow. Wow. That’s really awesome. Because it does give you all that breath support. It’s a lot easier to come by when you can stand. The diaphragmatic support. But also it’s just more freeing, as you said, Mary. Because if you need to move … okay. One more question. Who here cannot voice unless they use their hands? Like you honestly cannot use your voice as well?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Try it some time. It’s hard.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. It’s hard. I know. For those of us who talk with our hands, it’s second nature. You need to. If you couldn’t use your hands, you’re kind of like constricted in a way, right? So all good points. I know that this is a weird thing for me to do. I’m holding my hands behind my back for those of you who cannot see. But if you do have to sit, though, you need to find ways to still feel energized and to have that same momentum that you would have but also the same access to the breath. That’s very important. So you don’t end up with vocal fry or something like that.

    Julianna Jones:
    Well, I’ve even remember some of our other coaches have said things like you use your hands to enunciate each point. So like little kitchen helper. Right? And it’s just a little mental … I know like me, I come from just hearing this all the time. So I picked up a lot of beginner tips. And I think that that’s probably one of my favorites. And I remember if I’m on the phone, I actually have to use a headset because I talk with my hands so much. And when you don’t have your body to rely on to convey what emotion you’re feeling, your voice becomes so important and that expressiveness is so important getting any kind of message across.

    Julianna Jones:
    And if you’re someone’s brand voice, you’re being paid to get a message across. Yeah. Do what you got to do.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Right. And again, no one can see you. Right?

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Thank goodness.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    No one can see you. But if you were on camera, if you’re in the stage, people can obviously see you. So maybe you have to be a little more careful with how you gesticulate or move. And movement is very important for any voice professional. Any actor. Any anything. But what’s really awesome is that, as Mary said, no one can see you. You can even choose not to see yourself, frankly. But whatever you need to do that gets you to that place where your voice just feels free, then that’s a great thing to do.

    Julianna Jones:
    Mary, did you ever record voice-overs in your sweatpants at home?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    You don’t want to know what I wear. Usually my pajamas. It’s usually bedtime.

    Julianna Jones:
    Oh, I mean, that’s a pretty good life. So you get to be paid to do work in your pajamas.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Oh yeah. Oh definitely.

    Julianna Jones:
    It’s not bad. It’s not bad.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    No makeup. You don’t have to curl your hair.

    Julianna Jones:
    Right?

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    No 4:30 AM drives into town.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    That’s right. Yeah. That’s what voice-overs can do for you all.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Any time of the day you can do it.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Absolutely. It’s like a three step walk to your studio in some cases depending on where your studio is. It could be that home … the closet in your bedroom.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Actually, what’s your studio at home like?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    It’s my daughter’s old bedroom.

    Julianna Jones:
    Nice.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    After she moved out. And it’s just a corner that I have soundproof. And it works. My only dilemma is the house is very close, so the guy next door, when he is mowing the lawn, I have to be very careful because it’s kind of loud. So I have stuff over the window. It works. I mean, you know.

    Julianna Jones:
    Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely.

    Julianna Jones:
    It doesn’t have to be pretty. It just has to sound good.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    No. No.

    Julianna Jones:
    Absolutely.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    And I like to wear headphones. I know some people don’t. But I really need to wear headphones. I like to hear myself. My whole self. Not anything extraneous. So …

    Julianna Jones:
    So you are both ears then? Because I know some talent like to do one ear on and the other off.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Oh no. I do both.

    Julianna Jones:
    And you like both ears?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    At work, I have one. Usually one off. Because if I need to hear somebody else cue me for something. But no. Otherwise, I … Big old headphones.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Do you do a lot of post-production? And would you do any post-production on a script like this, like adding music or anything like that for your audition?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I do not do post-production. No. I’ve been in … I’m not that technically good.

    Julianna Jones:
    I mean, you don’t have to be. That is why there are producers-

    Mary Van De Velde:
    It’s just something I don’t like to do. And I stay away from those jobs that ask you to do it. Some people love to do it. So by all means, it’s fun. It is interesting. But I have friends that can help me with that if I really need to.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Right. And the script didn’t call for it either, right?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    No.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So that’s something to remember is that if you aren’t following instructions, then you can also be a quick and easy person to not hire. If you’re not being true to what the author’s intent is, what the direction is, what that creative producer is wanting you to do, then they frankly have every right to move to the next audition. So always keep that in mind.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    The only thing I wanted to say about that, a lot of narrative reads, if they’re coming from a foreign country, a different place, sometimes they are not grammatically correct. I have taken it upon myself to change that grammar. And I think they do appreciate it when you do do that. Some jobs I don’t. I’m like, “Oh boy. This is really … ” Plus I was a journalism major, so I see these things and I just want to cringe. Or sentences that go on and on and on. And that’s another thing. You really have to practice the breathing when you see a medical read or whatever that it’s just going on and on and on.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    So, yeah. I would go ahead and change some of the grammatically incorrect copy in that way, but not anything like this. A quick commercial read, no.

    Julianna Jones:
    I can tell you to give you a little insight into maybe sometimes why those poorly translated audition scripts happen is a lot of the times, if a client comes to us with a bigger project like I have an English script and it needs to be translated into 12 different languages. So we need to cast for each of the languages, while the scripts are being professionally translated by whatever company we’re using. We’ll just quick and easy use Google Translate to get the script into the talent’s native language. And so even though it looks like it’s … well, it is poorly translated. The final project won’t be poorly translated. It’s just so that we can give the auditions to the clients so they can choose them. We can keep everything moving along at a good clip.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Good point.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. But I really do want to tap into your skillset here for a second. So if anyone comes from a writing background or they have some kind of a journalistic background and you’re like, “Oh, this script. Man. Yuck.” You could say to the client, in your proposal, “I also do a copy editing. Or I have this other skillset. And my quote reflects that. So if you need this, this is what it would cost.” And so on, so on. So a lot of you have amazing talents and gifts that are really great for supplementary work around the voice-overs itself, be it copywriting, music production. I don’t know what else. It could be editing of some kind. Translation, possibly, even depending on what your proficiency of course is.

    Julianna Jones:
    Singing.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    I know that we have a-

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah. Singing.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    … I won’t name her, but we’ve got someone in here who can do that in Spanish to English. But this is really, really exciting area because you can develop more of your business. And we have to think of this as being a business. And so it’s not so much about just doing the read and getting it over with. This is like your … this is what should make you happy and give you that motivation to continue doing voice-overs, because you love it and because you can add value to it. So we are going to move on to audition number five.

    Audition 5:
    Do you have a little kitchen helper that would love their own cookbooks? The Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbooks for kids are fun for every occasion. Let the kids make you breakfast from the Toast the Most breakfast book, or make lunch together from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. It’s fun for children ages three to 10. Visit littlekitchenhelper.com to order yours today.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    What a nice voice.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah.

    Julianna Jones:
    The tone was just lovely.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Beautiful voice.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    He sounds like a guy who can sound old or young. I can’t figure out how old he is. I was trying to listen and I’m like, “Hmm, this guy could be in his 20s or he could be in his 50s.” Which is a very … when you have that kind of talent, you have that kind of voice that you can use it all over the place. So that’s what I really liked about him. The only thing I noticed, he must have done some sound mixing in there. Some effects. And I don’t like to add a lot of effects to my voice, and I know a lot of clients don’t like that either. So that’s what I would stay away from. Just adding too many effects. And his maybe was a little … did you guys notice that? I don’t know. I just-

    Julianna Jones:
    A little heavy on the post-production?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yes. Yes. But I loved his voice otherwise. It was just …

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. To be honest, I didn’t notice. I didn’t notice because I’m not an audio engineer, and I’m not someone who produces anything. But I think one of the main reasons why I didn’t notice is because I just liked it so much. And that I wasn’t distracted. And I thought he did a good job. And that’s one thing about voice-overs is that if the audience doesn’t believe you, if they’re not with you on the ride, if you can’t capture them in the palm of your hand, then there’s like a suspension of their disbelief and they’re like, “I don’t get it.” But with him, I wasn’t concerned with that. Maybe it’s in there, but I didn’t know, and I think the average client wouldn’t know either.

    Julianna Jones:
    Well, okay. So I have two things. I wrote them down to make sure I talk about. One, we talked about being authentic in your reads. What if you’re just not feeling the script? How do you make it authentic? How do you make it so that you sound like you’re just totally this is great for ages three to 10? How do you make that sound good?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Well, I think you have to envision yourself in that character and hopefully they will give you a description. But a lot of jobs don’t. So you kind of have to really think. And a lot of them will just say, “Mom.” Or whatever. And if it’s a mom read, which I tend to do a lot of because I’m a mom, and so I go, “Oh, I can do this. I’m a mom.” Well, just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean I’m going to sound good doing it. Everybody is … a lot of people are moms. So I kind of think of what the product is and then kind of think of one of my kids. Or, a situation with somebody. Character with my kids in the house or how I would talk to them about it or something like that. You just got to put yourself in that character and that’s where the acting comes in. You know?

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So would you say that’s more method acting for you, Mary? Because other people build these really elaborate back stories and they’ve got, oh, and this is their favorite sports team. And this is a time they eat breakfast and blah, blah, blah.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    No.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    No? You don’t go there? No.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    No. I mean, you don’t want to spend that much time. If you’re doing, I don’t know how many auditions you guys do a day. I do an average of probably 10 to 20. I don’t know if that’s a lot.

    Julianna Jones:
    No. That’s perfect.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I don’t know … It’s probably average I would say. But you don’t want to sit there and spend 15 minutes on each audition because you would drive yourself bonkers. You know, every five minutes. Maybe three or four is … So you got to put yourself in character really quick. So you don’t want to think about it, all the characteristics of one person and what they do and what eat for breakfast. It would take you forever.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    I think in audiobooks, that might be a … may be more of a common thing. Or character development.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yes. Oh, definitely.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    But when you’re reading just a commercial, like as you’re saying, then it really doesn’t take that much. You just have to get yourself in the right frame of mind. So some talent have like these archetypes that they’ll pull out. Here’s my soccer mom read. Here’s my, I don’t know, my teacher read. Or here’s my whatever it might be. My coach read. And they just go there. So do you have like a little inventory of voices in your head that you can say, “Oh, here’s a job that would call on this one. I’m just going to use it”?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I think I’m starting to establish that. All of a sudden I find myself doing the same voice again and I’m like, oh. I want to change this a little bit or go softer or go … I don’t know. And then you get into a rut and you start doing the same thing all the time. So don’t get in a rut. Change it up. And just before you read it, say, “Am I sounding like I just sounded yesterday in this exact type of read?” Or do two takes, then. That’s the perfect time to do two takes, if it’s under 20 seconds.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah. And if you’ve been recording and keeping all your auditions, of course you can go back and listen to them over time, right? So you can obviously like, “Oh, all my auditions in the last two weeks have really sounded angry. What’s the deal with me?” Right?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    You might have to look inside yourself and be like, “What?” Because I think you kind of hinted at this earlier, Julianna, but if there’s something that’s weighing on you or you’re going through something in your own personal life, that will get into your read. You may not think it will, but if you’re dealing with a loss. If you’re ill and you’re trying to talk through something. Just little things and little intricate things, right? Like your instrument, it not only conveys tone and phonemes and all these other things. It actually … part of you comes out every time you read.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    But sometimes it helps as well, if you’re grieving for a reason and you’re reading a sympathetic thing. I remember my mom passed away a year ago and it really … it was awful for me. But I had some reads that were that and I just thought of my mom. And I think she really helped me with those auditions. So-

    Julianna Jones:
    That’s authentic.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    So bring it on. You know?

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Absolutely.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Use … That works too.

    Julianna Jones:
    Well, I even remember it somebody else told me that they were doing a … it was also a pretty sad spot. And I think that they went and watched some really sad war scene, which just brought them to tears. And then they went straight to the microphone. And so sometimes even if you don’t personally have an experience to draw from, there are lots of resources online where you can watch something that’ll help to put you in that mindset if your imagination, maybe, is failing you at the moment. Yeah. And actually, the second point, post-production. So if you edit your voice in your audition so that it doesn’t sound like you and then once you get hired, they ask you to do a live session, can you imagine how embarrassing that would be if you couldn’t replicate that sound when they had hired you to do it? Or how ticked the client would be? You would lose that client right away. They’re not going to hire you again. So when you’re doing any post-production, you want to sound like yourself, but just the best version of yourself, right?

    Julianna Jones:
    So don’t go crazy on the post-production. You want to make sure that you leave room for the editor to do their thing, not take over their job. Your job is to do the voice-overs. So just little edits here and there so that there’s not the sound of a microphone because you’re tapping or your lips are smacking together. Just little things like that and let them take care of the rest.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    If you go and get someone to make your demo, make sure that you can develop some skills to get to the same level that that demo was made at, so you can at least match the demo. Because years ago, this happened on our platform where someone was hired literally off their demo. The demo was not produced in their studio by them. It was produced by someone else who was obviously trying to make them sound as best as they can. And that’s the whole purpose of a demo is to illustrate the artistic abilities of a talent. But in this day and age, the talent is not just the talent. The talent is audio engineer. The talent is booth director. The talent is, in some cases, any number of things under the sun that you might need to do as the voice artist.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So just keep that in mind that when you go in and you think, “Oh, I’m going to do this voice-overs thing”, it isn’t just the voice that matters. It’s also your technical skills. So there’s all kinds of different tutorials online. You can even take lessons, I would expect. You go to any kind of music studio or a place that sells instruments, and they may very well be able to teach you a thing or two. They might have lessons or sessions that they run on how to do Audacity. How to work in GarageBand. Whatever it might be that you’re using. Adobe Audition for that matter.

    Julianna Jones:
    So speaking of demos, how many demos do you have, Mary?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    On voices.com? I have about 11, I think, at this time. So some of them might be my old demos. I have commercial, narrative, obviously. Then I have various commercials that I’ve done on the radio station. I threw those on. Might as well. Or like a read about a sarcastic mom or something like that. So I just … Yeah. I have about 11.

    Julianna Jones:
    How often do you refresh them?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Not often enough.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah? Yeah?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I really should be working on that, too. And that’s another thing. You should be refreshing your profile. And I should talk because I got to work on that.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yep.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Definitely. That’s something I have to do.

    Julianna Jones:
    Good motivation to go back home.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Or your templates. I don’t know if you guys use templates. I use the templates. It’s great to have those. It saves you so much time. But change of word here and there sometimes in your templates every once in a while.

    Julianna Jones:
    I guess for your situation it would be a little bit different because you’ve been doing this for so long that you probably were pretty comfortable in front of the mic in getting your demos done. But there are a lot of talent and when you get your professional demo done, it’s a very personal decision. I know talent who have gotten their demo done right away and it sounds just fabulous and they can replicate it.

    Julianna Jones:
    And I know talent that have decided to work with their coach for a year before they do their demo because it’s such an investment. And you want to make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward. And some people have the natural ability to put their best foot forward right off the bat. And some people need to practice for a year and then get to know what kind of styles clients like to hire about their voice. And then they’ll use those like jobs that they’ve booked as like, okay. These are the styles that I want to replicate in my demo. So then they’ll go and find their producer and say, “Hey. Here’s kind of what I’m thinking.”

    Julianna Jones:
    And then their producer will work with them to put together their demo around those things that have made them successful. So there’s just a couple of different styles, and I know that Donovan on the panel afterwards is a great demo producer. And maybe he’s someone that can answer a couple of more questions along those lines.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    And I always say, when you do get your first demo done before you finish it, and before you accept it, have at least 10 people listen to it. And they’ll all give you different opinions, of course. But you can take a couple different cues from each one of them and that really helps too.

    Julianna Jones:
    Oh, cool.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I did that and people really had different … take that one out. Oh, that’s terrible. Put that one back in. So you never know. You end up doing what you want to do, because you should. You’re spending the money. So do what you want to do to make yourself sound the best. But take the other people’s opinions as well.

    Julianna Jones:
    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Fantastic.

    Julianna Jones:
    Crowd source.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Wow. That’s great. Quick show of hands. Who here has a professionally produced demo already?

    Julianna Jones:
    Oh wow. That’s awesome.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    All right. Cool. Who has made some of their own at home?

    Julianna Jones:
    Nice.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Cool.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yep.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    That’s awesome. All right. So, we’ve got one more audition, every one. I know you’ve been sitting patiently. We are almost at the part where we are going to ask Mary to pick the winner, but obviously-

    Mary Van De Velde:
    It’s so hard.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    … we got to listen to one more. I know. The task. The burden on her shoulders. Amazing. So, anyway. We will listen to our last audition. This is audition number six.

    Audition 6:
    Do you have a little kitchen helper that would love their own cookbooks? The Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbooks for kids are fun for every occasion. Let the kids make you breakfast from the Toast the Most breakfast book, or make lunch together from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. It’s fun for children ages three to 10. Visit littlekitchenhelper.com to order yours today.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Okay. So as you’ve noticed, she did not finish the audition. I love this girl. I mean, she sounds great. She’s the right sound. She was enunciating properly. I just thought she just sounded great. And then I’m like, “Where’s the dot com?” I was waiting for the line. And then I realized she didn’t finish it. And in something like this, which like I said is 23 seconds long, you really need to finish it. Especially when there’s a website.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. Totally.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    People love to hear what their website is going to sound like. Because a lot of people whip through the websites. Like you said before, they need to be enunciated a little better. Or a phone number. You know? You really need to get the … If the phone number is said four times, like it is when I read phone numbers, then you got to read fast. Then you can … three, one, one, zero. Get out of there. But the first couple times you read the phone numbers, you need to say them. It’s like when you do FDIC in the end of a bank commercial. Whip, whip, whip.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    My goodness. So Mary, I mean, obviously this isn’t part of our script, but how do you read fast? This is a skill that I’m sure others are curious.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Well, I do traffic reports for a living, so I read very fast.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Practice makes perfect.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    No. I’ve always been a fast reader. And that’s another struggle I have to slow down and really concentrate. So everybody has their struggles. But reading fast, I think it’s a skill, too, and it works for you and against you. But when you have like a lawyer commercial or a mortgage person, when you have the MLS numbers, that kind of thing, and … then it helps to have that fast skill. And sometimes they can, of course, engineers can quicken them up for you as well. But you know …

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yesterday in an Uber,

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah. We had just had this discussion. Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Because it sounded like part of it was like a natural read. And then all of a sudden the guy did …

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Oh. Totally edited.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    It went on for like a 20 seconds of how is he doing this? Either he was sped up and-

    Mary Van De Velde:
    He was sped up.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    … what have you. But it’s like how do you maintain that kind of speed talking? Because there’s professional speed talkers, right? Guinness Book of World Records.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Auctioneers.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Auctioneers.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Yeah. That’s a skill.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Oh my gosh. We’re actually going to get this done on time. Okay. It is 7:49 Central Time. So beautiful. I can’t believe we did it. So Mary, it’s time. Can we get a drum roll, please?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    I can’t have a tie?

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Drum roll. No, no, no. There must only be one.

    Julianna Jones:
    Well, that being said, you can totally tell us who your runner up is and then who your winner is.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah.

    Julianna Jones:
    Absolutely.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Oh, fun.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Who would be the winner though.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Who do I go with first?

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yeah.

    Julianna Jones:
    Runner up and then winner.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Okay. Runner up would be number six. Some people might have chosen her and say, “Finish it for me.” But on voices.com, sometimes you don’t have that opportunity.

    Julianna Jones:
    Absolutely.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    So, sorry. I wish she would have finished it. So I’m going to go with number four.

    Julianna Jones:
    Whew.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Whew. All right.

    Julianna Jones:
    Nice.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Anybody else go with number four?

    Audience:
    Yes.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Yep. Keeping score at home. Yep.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    All right. Now, if you don’t remember, she was the girl who sounded like number one. I mean, a lot of them do sound kind of similar. But she had really great pace and her age was proper. I did say I wanted her to do more with her endings. Because she was doing down a lot. But that can be-

    Julianna Jones:
    You can coach that.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    … coached out.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    All right.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    So I would go with number four.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Number four. Well, let’s listen to number four. We’ll remember together.

    Audition 4:
    Do you have a little kitchen helper that would love their own cookbooks? The Little Kitchen Helpers Cookbooks for kids are fun for every occasion. Let the kids make you breakfast from the Toast the Most breakfast book, or make lunch together from a recipe in the Cheese, Please lunch book. It’s fun for children ages three to 10. Visit littlekitchenhelper.com to order yours today.

    Julianna Jones:
    Lovely.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Wow. That is fantastic. Let’s give that talent a hand. It’s good. All right, Mary. I know you’ve got an early morning. You’re going to be back at it. 4:30 in the morning. Ouch.

    Julianna Jones:
    What time do you wake up?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    3:30.

    Julianna Jones:
    I’m in REM sleep. That’s incredible.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    It’s not bad. Not too many people on the road. Except-

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    That’s true. My goodness. Yep.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    … people who drink too much and a lot of semis.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So Mary, if we are going to hear a traffic report by you, what radio station do we tune in to into Chicago?

    Mary Van De Velde:
    WGN AM 720.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Awesome.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Well, thank you so much for joining us. Mary, it was a great pleasure to having you.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Thank you for having me.

    Julianna Jones:
    Yeah.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    Thanks so much.

    Mary Van De Velde:
    Thank you.

    Stephanie Ciccarelli:
    So good.

    hanie Ciccarelli:
    So good.

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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®.

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