Podcasts Mission Audition Tips to Booking Commercial Retail Voice Over Jobs
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Tips to Booking Commercial Retail Voice Over Jobs

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Stephanie Ciccarelli
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Yes, there IS a voice over project for every voice. However, the difference between voice over audition success and failure often rests on your ability to bring your individual style to the script. But how? In this episode we review commercial voice over auditions for the retail industry. Learn about maximizing the potential of your voice print, how to play with voice age range and even extend it, what to do to manage your energy levels, and how to interpret those tricky project briefs.

Hosts: Stephanie Ciccarelli, Julianna Lantz, with guest Eric Wibbelsmann. Eric is a full-time professional voice actor with over ten years of experience across many facets of VO including commercial, promo, animation, video game and much more.  He’s also a 25+ year musician/songwriter who plays guitar for the Los Angeles based rock band ROCKET. Contact Eric: ericvo.com

Inspired? Get your practice on with Retail Commercial Sample Scripts: https://www.voices.com/blog/retail-commercial-sample-scripts/

Mission Audition is presented by Voices.com. Produced by Marc Raffa; Scripting by Niki Clark; Engineering by Shelley Bulmer.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Hi there. Welcome to another episode of Mission Audition. I’m Stephanie Ciccarelli, co-founder of voices.com and I’m joined by Julianna Lantz.

Julianna Lantz:
Hi everyone.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
And today we’re going to be talking about commercials. This is an area that I know everybody’s super interested in. Commercials are ruling out all over the place, be it broadcast on radio, or television, or even online. There’s so much going on, such a rich area for us to talk about today. But what is even more fun is that we have got Eric Wibbelsmann on the line. Eric, welcome to the show.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Hey guys, thanks so much for having me. Glad to be here.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
That is awesome. We know you a bit here, Eric, but of course our audience may not yet know you. Do you mind just telling us a little bit more about your background and how you got into commercial voiceover?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Sure. First the earth cooled and then the dinosaurs came. Oh wait, that’s probably too much backstory.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Fast forward a couple of years.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
I started about 11 years ago and it was one of those situations where I just heard about a million times, “You’ve got a great voice, you should do voiceover.” And I never really considered it, but once I started taking instruction and met a lot of people in the business, I was really just hooked right away. And I’ve been doing it ever since. And I love every minute of my work.

Julianna Lantz:
I hear that story so often from talent where they’re like, “I had somebody telling me I had a good voice. I never thought of that before. And now I’m working full time as a voiceover actor from my home in my pajamas.” What? That’s amazing.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yeah. At some point in your life you probably realized commercials were your thing. But that said, I know you’ve studied with a lot of heavyweights, do you mind telling us a bit about the people who’ve been coaching you over time and how that has helped you in this field?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Oh, absolutely. When I first started out, I started with Lee Gilbert out here in Los Angeles. She used to be an agent at ICM and William Morris back in the day. She really had that background to bring to coaching from the agent side, which was crucial. And then Rick Wasserman, amazing guy from Bookable VO. He until very recently was the voice of the AMC Network. And with commercial he was just invaluable. Mary Lynn Wissner here in Los Angeles also from Voices Voicecasting. They all have their own flavor and way of bringing their process and their idea to your voice. It really makes it personal.

Julianna Lantz:
Do you have any standard advice that you got that really helped you in your career from your coaches?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Yeah. Be yourself. First and foremost, people try to put on some little something extra, and nobody can sound exactly like you. We all have unique individual voices. If you’re just different versions of yourself, I think that’s where you really dial in your reads. I can be more empathetic in my own voice. I don’t have to be empathetic sounding like the guy on the insurance commercials. If you find your own voice and your own adjustments within your own voice, I think that’s the most valuable thing you can use. Your tool is your own, and nobody else can do it the way you do it.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah. There’s a project for every voice out there, for sure.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Absolutely. Too many times I hear people want to hear that Morgan Freeman sound or Sam Elliott, and it’s not that you’re trying to emulate them or do an impression, you’re just trying to do your style of that style. I always try to take that with a grain of salt and just do it the way I would do it in that style.

Julianna Lantz:
And if they like you, they’ll book you.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
And if they like you, then you can recreate that. I can’t recreate an impression of somebody else. And if they want that person, they should just hire them in the first place.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah exactly.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Wonderful. Well, today we’re going to be listening to a bunch of auditions from people reading in commercial style. As you have noted here, I think it’s really important that the voice that people are going to hire is one that they can relate to. One that does not sound like Morgan Freeman. And that person clearly isn’t Morgan Freeman. We want to be listening for that in these auditions. As we do every week, we’re going to listen to a number of auditions. We’re going to take time in between. We’re going to see what was really awesome about this one and what might someone want to try in a future audition if they could do a take two. We’ll be listening to lots of auditions and they will be all kinds of different reads. And every time on this show, every single time, what we want to do is just give you the best feedback possible.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
We come from this in a position of wanting to help you to grow as an artist, but also wanting you to hear those things that you won’t normally hear, from your family, friends, those you don’t want to tell you the truth. We are here to help you make your next read really awesome. And that’s really what this podcast is about, isn’t it Julianna?

Julianna Lantz:
There’s nothing wrong with not knowing, and we’re here to help you understand so you can improve and book those projects.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Because we care about you.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah. We want you to succeed.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Let’s talk about the audition that we’re going to listen to. First of all, this is in a really neat market. If you have a dog, you’re going to love this one. Essentially what this spot is, it’s Nature’s Special Menu, all natural dog food. Essentially a new doggy food to the market that appeals to those who consider their pets to be more like children, I would say. And anyway, the dog lovers will spare no expense for the wellbeing of these pets and they consider high-end food a must have, not a should have or maybe could have, for those pets to ensure their longevity and enjoyment of their lives. Anyway, that’s what we’re looking at. That’s what the town’s got to step into. Julianna, do you mind sharing a bit more but what the vocal direction is and what we’re looking for in this specific job?

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah, of course. The right voice for this campaign is one that will help dog food lovers feel open to introducing a new dog food into their pet’s diet. The voice should be girl, guy, next door that can convince these pet lovers to switch foods for the sake of their pets’ health. The voice should feel like a friendly testimonial about an awesome new alternative. We want somebody who’s upbeat and energetic.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yeah. And this is for radio. We’re looking at a radio spot, a general US American accent, if one could say there was such a thing, it was that general sound. But yeah, let’s see what we’ve got. Can we roll the first one please.

Audition 1:
We feed our Rufus Nature’s Special Menu, all natural dog food with no artificial colors or flavors. I know that we’re treating him as well as he treats us. Nature’s Special Menu, all natural dog food found in your major department store.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
All right. Eric, what do you think?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Well, first of all he’s got a nice voice for the product. I would say the first thing that caught me is that it felt a bit like he was yelling at me instead of telling me about the product. I think a lot of times people feel like they need to push and overdo it on radio spots. Although we don’t have picture… where the voice is just supporting the picture, like in a TV or internet spot, we know we need to give a little more on a radio audition. But if you go too far, it feels like if I was driving in the car listening to that and all of a sudden somebody is yelling at me about pet products, it would be a little jarring.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yeah. Kind of like when you’re watching TV online and then an internet commercial comes up and it’s five times louder than the rest of it and you’re like, “Oh goodness, what is this?” And you don’t even want to listen to it anymore.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
A little normalization here. Bringing the audio down overall would really help us read. It would also be nice to have just a little bit more inflection, a little more change in the read. It felt like it stuck in one field all the way through.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Are there any things that you do when you’re recording to help you stay out of that kind of repetition?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Absolutely. Great question. My main thing is I’m trying to talk to somebody. Whenever you’re doing a spot, or at least whenever I am, I’m trying to picture one person that I’m talking to about this product, especially something like this that you could be talking to your buddy about, or your coworker, or a family member and telling them how great this product is. By doing that you are able to connect with that… any listener, that consumer, a lot better.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
I believe that that takes the… it puts the personality into it. With that being said, I would just say to not read the copy off the sheet, but talk to somebody. One trick I like to use is, we’re not ever trying to sell something. We are at the end of the day, but one of my coaches taught me that you’re trying to sell the feeling that the product or the show is going to give you. If I was reading for a luxury car, it’s not really about selling that luxury car. It’s about selling the feeling you’re going to get when you’re driving that luxury car. And I think if you’re the listener in your car listening to this radio spot or watching a TV spot, any commercial spot, you want to feel like you’re being connected with by that person who is trying to sell you that emotion, not just try to sell you on a product, or a TV show, or whatever it may be. That emotion is what we want to connect with as humans. At least that’s what I think.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
All right, Eric. You come across a lot of commercial copy, no doubt brand names are peppered in all over the place. In this particular spot we’ve got the brand name is mentioned twice. Given that we have two mentions and they’re at opposite ends of the script, it appears, how should a talent approach that? Do you have any best practices for how to say the brand name, if it’s mentioned a number of times, how to differentiate?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Yes, I do. And I think it’s smart that they give it to you at the beginning and the end. You’re setting it up and then you’re solidifying it at the end. If I were reading that spot, I would be more concerned about how I was reading the first line, first reading, and not so much about hitting that brand name so hard. I want to catch the listener’s ear and they’re going to know it’s some sort of dog food, but when we get to the end, that’s where we need to remind them. Okay, what have I been listening to? It’s, I heard about dog food. What dog food? Oh, there it is.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
They’re not necessarily going to remember that very first thing they heard. They just need that to hook them into the commercial. Then it’s like the tag at the end of a car commercial on TV or on the radio, they’re going to put that logo at the end and go, “Oh, that’s what this great car is. It’s such and such a brand.” I would say don’t throw it away at the beginning, but you don’t need to hit it so hard. At the end, you want to put it in air quotes or what I call billboarding, where you put your hands up in the air and say product name.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Oh, that’s awesome. Thank you for that. We all see that, it’s in lights. It’s all in lights now. That’s great.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
That’s a good way to look at it. It’s all in lights.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Great. Let’s move on to our second audition.

Audition 2:
Nature’s Special Menu all natural dog food is a new to market pet food that appeals to those who consider their pet to be one of their family. These dog lovers will spare no expense for the wellbeing of their pet and consider high-end food a must have, to ensure the health and longevity of their beloved dog.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
I think that is interesting because that wasn’t the script. No, it wasn’t the script and this is the description. Yes. Sorry, go ahead.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
That happened to me once early in my career, the copy and the specs. I was a newbie and I’ll admit it, I did that same thing. Make sure you’re not reading the specs. You should be able to tell that that isn’t the copy. It happens, but really be sure you’re reading the product copy.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Right.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
I’d love to have heard his actual audition because this voice print is really good. His voice, age, and style is really good for the product and I think for the demographic, for the audience that he be reaching out to. It might’ve been a little overdone, but he was on the right track, I think. His audio quality was really good. Maybe just try a little less and just again, like you’re talking to a friend. I know we hear that all the time in the business, but it’s so true. You just want to have that conversational style to it.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yeah, I really did like his read and when I realized, “Oh my, that’s not the script.” it was kind of like, “Oh no, of course we want to hear what that is.” But something aside, all the artistic stuff aside, if you don’t follow the instructions in someone’s job posting, then that gives them permission to say, “Next.” Even if you’re really great, they have a mandate. They’ve got to find someone who can do exactly what they’ve asked for. And in this case, unfortunately as wonderful as that voice artist is, someone may not have the time to go back and ask him to try again.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Exactly. And on that point, I know casting directors that I’ve worked with, they will show you how quickly they go through auditions, and it could be two or three seconds. And if they don’t hear something they like, it’s great if you wow them 20 seconds into the audition, but it’s no good if they never get to it. In this case, the guy sounded great, but they’re going to hear right off the bat that he didn’t read the copy. They’re going to throw that out. And it’s too bad because he might’ve been competitive.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah, that’s a piece of advice we find ourselves giving quite often to talent that you need to hit with lots of energy right out of the gate. Because if you wait to give it to them 20 seconds in, like you said, you’ve already lost them. And when people realize that you’ve only got three seconds it, “Oh, okay, no problem. I can do that.”

Eric Wibbelsmann:
And it could be as simple as changing the cadence to something that somebody might not normally do. You take those first few words of that very important first line. The first line of any spot is the most crucial. And then the second most is the end tag, or the product tag. We want to make sure that we catch them from the very beginning. And you can do that in subtle ways. You don’t have to yell, you don’t have to be overly excited if the copy doesn’t call for it, but something that just makes you stand out a little bit, but it’s still you. It’s tough to do.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Let’s say the first sentence is, “This is the greatest dog food I’ve ever had. This is the greatest dog food my dog has ever had.” You could just change small things like, “This is the best dog food my dog has ever had. This is the best dog food my dog has ever had.” Slight subtle things like that, because 99 out of 100 people are probably going to look at that copy and read it roughly the same way. If you pause in a place that somebody else might not pause in, it’ll catch the ear of the casting director or the client.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
To add to that, it’s about making choices. What you described there, Eric, is about making a choice. This isn’t just something that happens, like you can be strategic about a pause or you can be strategic about the inflection that you’re using as well.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Oh, it’s well thought out in advance. You don’t want to just go and pick that copy up and cold read it. If you have to and there’s a particular situation that calls for it, if you’re a professional you can handle it. But all of these ideas are thought out. You take a look at the copy, you break it down. We could do several podcast episodes on just how to break down the copy. But yeah, those little things are all worked on in advance.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Do you print your script out and Mark it up, or do you just go through in your head and know where you want to pause?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
It depends. In my booth, I have a second screen that I read off of and I’m able to mark my copy electronically. So yes. Depending on the script, if I really need to mark it up or I’m doing a live session where I might need to mark it up on the go, then I will print it out and get my markers ready and adjust. But you can do that with pretty much any copy on your screen now.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Wow. You said markers, plural, do you have different colors? What are you doing different?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
I got a whole color palette. If I’m doing a commercial spot that has various people reading at the same time, I’m going to highlight mine in a certain color. Some of the other characters in different colors, all lines in a different color. It just helps my eyes go where they need to go and not have to navigate that on the fly. Especially if you’re on the live session.

Julianna Lantz:
Organization is key.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Oh, it’s maybe the biggest key.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Well, that’s a takeaway. I hope you’re all writing it down. Perfect. Well, get your markers on and write it down now. Now we’re going to move on to our next audition. Let’s hear it.

Audition 3:
We feed our Rufus Nature’s Special Menu, all natural dog food with no artificial colors or flavors. I know that we’re treating him as well as he treats us. Nature’s Special Menu, all natural dog food found in your major department stores.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Okay, so this dog, his name is Rufus-

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Not Ruffles.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
I was getting hungry. I wanted potato chips. I’m sorry. But it was just like that’s what stuck out to me immediately. And I know that sometimes people will do this strategically to say, “Oh, well, I’m going to change up the name. I’m going to do this in case someone steals my audio.” But I’m not thinking about that dog food anymore guys. I’m going to go get a bag of chips after work.

Julianna Lantz:
Mistakes in the copy make a client think that you won’t follow the instructions and they hire them. It’s a poor choice.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Yeah, it’s a poor choice. If he made the mistake, he should have just gone back and fixed it. If he did it on purpose. There’s one thing about changing copy. You just never do that, unless they say, “We want you to ad lib.” Most of the time they don’t. And writers have really worked a long time on these scripts and they don’t want you messing with them. Every once in a while, I have heard that some clients do lead-ins if they’re very short and to the point because it can catch the ear of the casting director. But that really is on a case by case basis. In this case, the audio quality wasn’t very good. He could really improve that.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah. And that’s a killer on online casting. If you don’t have professional quality audio, a client’s going to move on to the next person who’s easier to work with.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
And you know, these days it’s not that hard. There are so many good set ups you can put together, great mics. In my old days, I converted my walking closet into a sound booth. And you don’t have to be a studio engineer to do it. You just dampen things a little bit. There are online resources that will help you. There’s just ways to get that audio quality much better. And you have to, to become competitive.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Eric, you mentioned that in some cases, and of course a case by case basis, that a lead-in may be acceptable. Can you describe what a lead-in is?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
It’s just a very short front tag that… it gives you a little bit of a running start. And what it does is if you know or think that the casting director is okay with those, it sets your audition apart. In other words, they keep hearing, “My dog Rufus, my dog Rufus,” again and again, 300, 400 times. And if you say, “I remember the time my dog Rufus…” there it’s just going to have to stop and hear that because they’re not hearing the same thing over, and over, and over again. You’re not changing their copy, you’re just adding a very, very small lead-in to the beginning. A lot of times it could be something as simple as, for instance, just something real simple to get you in.

Julianna Lantz:
When it comes to lead-ins, you have to know your audience. And a lot of the times these auditions aren’t just being listened to by the client who’s on voices.com they’re being listened to by clients outside of voices.com. So you’re taking a risk, and sometimes it’s a risk that will pay off. Sometimes it’s a risk that will not get your audition passed along. And there’s that, but then there’s also, did you set it up properly? Did your lead-in set the tone the way that the client would have wanted you to set the tone? Again, if it’s something where you know what you’re doing and you’re good at it, I totally agree with Eric, it can be a great way to set yourself apart. Maybe if you’re a little bit newer, hold off until you have that kind of experience under your belt. But definitely something to aim for when you’ve been doing this for as long and as well as Eric has.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Yeah, you have to be very selective. It’s not for every time, but I’ll tell you it does work quite a bit. Again, it has to be very to the point and like you just mentioned, it does have to fit with the copy.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Eric, just one question because I’m sure that you’re doing in person auditions as well as the online. Would you say that that tactic, the lead-in, is more effective in the in person? I’m in the studio, a casting director is right beside me would than it is online?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
No, it’s more important online.

Julianna Lantz:
Ooh. Why would you say that?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Because in person, the casting director is already getting a little bit more of a feel of your personality. They can have you do it different ways. Online, you’re getting one shot, maybe a couple of seconds. Like I just did an in person audition and they had me run it a few different ways. I was able to run it with a couple of different directions. And then on my third one they let me do a lead-in, and I chose to take a nice small lead-in and do that and it worked great. But online it’s a little tougher. You just really have to feel it out. That only comes with experience.

Julianna Lantz:
Now, we at the beginning mentioned audio quality. What did you hear in his audio?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Hello. The two biggest problem, well the three biggest problems are microphone quality, reflection, and the box sound or what we call the hollow sound. Just going into your walk in closet and recording in there isn’t good enough because you need dampening material. You need things in there to soak up the sound, get that room very dead so you don’t have any hollow sound or reflection. If you’re reading up against a wall, that sound is going to hit that wall and come back to your microphone and it’s going to sound a little bit like you’re reading in a bathroom. It’s crucial to get rid of the reflection and those hollow boxy sounds. And again, you can go online, lots of resources on how to DIY your closet or your space using egg crate foam. You can be a professional foam, things like moving blankets. There’s lots of different things you could do.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah, I forgot lots of clothes like myself. They also work well.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
That’s a great point. All that helps.

Julianna Lantz:
We’re minimizing hard surfaces. That’s what we’re trying to say.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Yeah, exactly. You don’t have to run out and buy a several thousand dollar booth to begin with. It really helps later on down the line when you’re doing voiceover 10 hours a day. But it’s not something you have to have.

Julianna Lantz:
All right, cool. Do you want to listen to the next one?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Yeah.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Of course.

Audition 4:
We feed our Rufus Nature’s Special Menu, all natural dog food. With no artificials or flavors, I know that we are treating him as well as he treats us. Nature’s Special Menu, all natural dog food, found in your major department store.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
That’s very nice.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
He was nice and relaxed. Audio quality was good. He connected pretty well with the listeners, I think. He’s got the right voice style, the right voice print for the product. He didn’t sound like he was pushing too hard and it is radio. We do want a little more than if you’re just reading to support picture for TV or internet. This is really good. He stumbled just a little bit on the copy. If I were going to be picky, I would have gone back and fixed that because he said I think artificials and it wasn’t quite right to the actual copy. But other than that it felt really smooth. Really good.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah. I think I’d say it feels like a good example. A previous audition we had said he took it a little bit too far over the line and it feels like this gentleman was perfect on the line.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Yeah. He didn’t underdo it. He didn’t sound bored. That was nice and pleasant, like he was talking to his buddy.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Talking to a friend here.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
And that’s how that works.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah. If I could, Eric, can you explain to us what a voiceprint is? You’ve said it a number of times and for some of us that may not know what that is, it could… use a little elaboration. Is it more than just what a voice sounds like? Is it the physical properties or the tone? Help us out here.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
I think it’s tone and resonance. It’s just your natural voice. It’s not something you’re going to want to go and play with. But a voiceprint I just mean his particular voice falls within a range that sounds like he’s probably 20s to 30s in like your next door neighbor buddy. That particular sound, just his voiceprint meaning his voice quality versus somebody who’s got a real rough, gritty whiskey voice that would read for a truck commercial, that’s a different voiceprint. For this product, that truck commercial guy would seem out of place. His voiceprint, his natural voice sound meaning his age, the grit or cleanliness or just how his cadence is, wouldn’t fit. This guy’s voice wouldn’t be great for a monster truck spot. That’s what I mean by voiceprint. It’s just your natural voice style cadence, age, and how well you fit the product you’re reading for.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Is that something that a listener here could figure out on their own, or how does someone map out what their voiceprint is?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Yeah, it helps when you get coaches pointing in that right direction. For commercial, I always thought I had a deeper voice and I do have some deep tambour but I also sound younger when I just read naturally. I sound younger than I am, which is a good thing. It gives you longevity in the business. But one thing I didn’t know is that I also read much younger, better than I thought I did. And it took a coach telling me, it was for promo work actually, and I was able to read things for Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, and really sell that 18 to 22 range, even a little younger that they use on those stations. It helped getting guidance from my coaches.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Wow. Well, I don’t want to put you on the spot or anything, but can you show us what that sounds like? Because we’re hearing you now throughout the duration of the show at regular Eric age voice, what does 18 to 22 year old Eric sound like? Because obviously your voiceprint can afford that. Just give us a taste of what our listeners might be able to do if they can tap into that same way of finding the younger voice in their own head.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Well, for me it’s a little more excitability. Everything from the animated pieces that I’ve done to products that are kids’ products, you just get a little more excited. You go up a little more into your head voice and that excitability really makes it come out. I did a spot for… what was it for? It was for Fisher-Price. You get up there and do something like this, “The all new Thomas the Train shark set.”

Julianna Lantz:
Wow.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
It was so long ago. But yeah, it was a good one.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yeah, no, that’s great. Actually, I have heard your work.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Yeah. It’s just those subtle things, but you learn how to play with your voice. You learn how to get a little deeper but still sound like you, where you get a little higher or younger, but still sound like you. Now that sounds a little more put on, but for the product that made sense.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
That was awesome. I can totally see why you would have booked Fisher-Price with that. Again, it’s so much fun watching voice actors put on their face.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Yeah, you have to switch gears really fast sometimes. And it’s just practice. You do it over and over and over again, and you try different styles. It’s just exposure. Just like if you were learning how to play piano, it’s just going to take time doing it over and over again and trying different styles of music to be able to play rock, and pop, and R&B just like it is with a voice actor trying to read commercial but read the lower tone or the higher tone.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah, I could see that taking some muscle memory too.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
When I pick up any script, I’m picking a physical, actual person that I know that I’m talking to. In this case, when I’m reading something like Thomas the Train, I’m talking to my niece and nephew therefore and to. This is the type of thing I’m going to talk to them in a particular way versus if I was talking to a teenager or an adult. I want to get them excited. I’m like, “Oh the all new Thomas the Train shark escape set.” I’m not going to talk to an adult like that. The audience for that is also partly the mothers and fathers of the kids, but the kids want to get excited about. You do need to connect with them.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah, the authenticity. It’s important.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Yes, that’s a good word.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Okay, I think we have one more audition to go, two more. Prime your ears, everybody. Here we go.

Audition 4:
We feed our Rufus Nature’s Special Menu, all natural dog food, with no artificial colors or flavors. I know that we’re treating him as well as he treats us. Nature’s Special Menu, all natural dog food, found in your major department store.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Yep. I’ve heard that read before.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
What does it feel like or smell like? What does that read?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
It’s just too much. A lot of new voice actors and actresses fall into this. They try to overdo it. They try to really massage the copy when it doesn’t need it. This was just a little too much what I call a roller coaster. It’s that, once upon a time, up and down, it just keeps moving up and down. And it doesn’t need to be that way. Again, conversational would do a lot better for a spot like this. The quality too was a little bit hollow so we’re back to that, adjust your space or booth to really make sure that quality is the best it can be. I would just say this actress has a good voice. It’s just a matter of how it was delivered. This sounds like it was really being delivered in a overly commercial manner, that announcer manner. And we just want it to be a little less.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yeah. I was going to say, if you were that director in the booth, you would ask her to pull back, but what does that look like though? Because we know that a performance that has gone overboard is a lot easier to finesse and refine than someone who isn’t quite giving you very much at all to work with. How could you help someone who is eager and new to the business to know if they’ve stepped over that line and how they can pull themselves back?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
It’s really telling him to take it back a notch. It’s great that they have the energy and they’re trying to infuse their ideas about the product or the show. It sounded like she really was into the product, but it comes across as a little fake when you put it on. When you put on too much. All of a sudden, as the listener, I’m not sold. I would rather have it be that kind of connection that’s just a friendly connection. To tell somebody to dial it down, it’s just, “Okay, that’s great. Now give me something where you’re coming back to it again. Just talking to a friend.”

Julianna Lantz:
Do you have a process for when you’ve recorded an online casting audition? Do you listen to it? Do you listen to it twice, you walk away, then come back? What do you do to make sure that you’re giving authentic reads?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Well, I do a process before I read. I will take a look at all the specs, make sure I fit the specs, and that’s a whole nother story too. But I will go through reading the copy out loud to make sure I’m not going to trip over anything. There aren’t any words I don’t know. I want to get it out of my mouth once before I ever go and think about recording it. And then I break it down into, there’s always a beginning, middle, and an end to copy, especially commercial copy. You want to hook them with the first information in the middle and then billboard and finish it off at the end. I always find my A, B and C are my beginning, middle and end.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
And then I very simply figure out who am I talking to, who am I in this particular instance? It’s always me, but it might be me, the dog owner, talking to my friend. Even if I don’t own a dog, I want to put myself in that position. And then I try to add a descriptor to that. How am I trying to get this across to my friend when I’m talking to them? Am I trying to entice them, or calm them, or reassure them, or excite them? Whatever that may be, I want to put that descriptor on there and try to get that emotion through to them. Again, we’re not selling dog food, we’re selling this dog food is going to make her dog happy and then I’m going to play with my dog and it brings joy. We’re selling happiness.

Julianna Lantz:
That’s an awesome formula.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
It works.

Julianna Lantz:
I can definitely see that being helpful to our listeners, for sure.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
And it makes it fun.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
It does, and it gives you purpose.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
It does.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
You’re not just reading for the sake of reading. You have a goal and obviously the people who wrote this copy, they’ve got a goal. And the people who want to produce this commercial, the brand has a goal. And at the end of the day it is happiness, it would seem. A long life of happiness for your dog.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
I feel like if you’re reading to sell something, if I was doing that every day, dozens and dozens of times a day, every day, I would feel really… I don’t know… just fake and put on. But when I’m reading to elicit an emotion or a feeling, it just goes a lot further. You really feel like you’re connecting with people. And in a lot of cases it’s of something great like a product like this.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Awesome. We’ve got one more audition. Let’s play that. And then at the end, as we always do, we will pick a winner, and in fact Eric will pick the winner. Without further ado, here’s the last audition in this episode of Mission Audition.

Audition 5:
We feed our Rufus Nature’s Special Menu, all natural dog food. With no artificial colors or flavors, I know that we’re treating him as well as he treats us. Nature’s Special Menu, all natural dog food, found in your major department store.

Julianna Lantz:
The styles and the job posting descriptions are upbeat and energetic.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Which that was not. I’m going to start with the positives. Again, a very good voiceprint, voice style. It fits. It sounds like she could be a mom or a dog owner that has that kind of youngest feel. The voiceprint is really good, but what I felt was she was just reading that off the page. Coaches will tell you this all the time, it’s voice acting. You do have to make that connection again. Here, there was really no connection being made. It was just, here’s the information and do with it what you will. It felt stiff. It just needed to be more connected back again to that same simple thing, “Hey, I’m talking to my friend about this.” And the audio quality could have been better too. Again, that hollow sound, it’s a killer.

Julianna Lantz:
It really is. And how many auditions that we listened to? Five, and three of them have had poor audio quality and I hate to say it, but that ratio is pretty normal on the auditions that clients and account managers are listening to. If you find yourself auditioning a lot and not booking a lot of work, it’s very likely that it’s an audio quality issue and it’s so easy to fix, YouTube or ask for help from a coach.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Absolutely.

Julianna Lantz:
And both places can really help you to make your efforts go farther and bookwork once you’ve nailed down that.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
It may feel like, “Okay, I can be a voiceover actor or actress, but I don’t know the technical side. It scares me when it comes to working with my recording equipment, or a sound booth, or how I’m going to dampen the sound.” These are actually very easy things to take care of. We shouldn’t be scared by these things that we don’t know. Like you just mentioned, those resources, they’re everywhere and a lot of them, they’re very easy and inexpensive to implement. And there are some pros online that are more than happy to share their information and help you out. Coaches, engineers, and a few things go a long way in improving your audio quality.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah, they really do. So true.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
One other comment, this is different from what you were all saying it has to do with a believability. And I like you, Eric, did not feel that this talent was really tapped into what they were saying. It was more of, “I’ll read this to you and here’s the information and we’ll have a nice day.” They didn’t own a dog, I don’t think. Not that I do either. It’s not like I can relate on that level, but I would want to feel like this is coming from a place where I believe that you want what’s best for Ruffles and you… oh, Rufus. Look what has happened to me. I do need chips.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
We all know it’s getting to be that time. But I wanted to connect with somebody and that’s the verb that you’re using, to connect, to feel like the emotion, the meaning, the power, the passion has to be there. Because you’ve only got less than 30 seconds to do this and on YouTube it is a pre roll. You got six seconds. You really got to think about what you’re putting into those reads because it’s going to have to move the needle. And if your voice is not doing that, then you’re not going to get hired.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
You asked me earlier too about process. And one thing I do when I decide that I’m actually going to send in a take, I won’t do too many takes. If I do a read through and I like the first take, it goes in. But once I get to fourth, fifth, sixth take, it’s not going to get any better. You’re overthinking it, you’re overdoing it. But what I will do before I submit an audition is I will use that word that you just used. And that’s believability. I’ll listen to the audition that I did and say, “Do I believe me?” And if my answer is no, I need to rerecord that. But if I believe what I’m doing, then we’re good.

Julianna Lantz:
I think that’s a great litmus test, do I believe myself?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Yeah, do I believe myself? And the tough part about auditions these days is you’re your own director and that’s very difficult. In the old days, you would go into your agent and you would read and they had booth directors and they would adjust you because they knew what the clients wanted. They had been working with these clients for years and they could say, “Give me more of this, give me less of this,” because that will give you the best chance to book.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Now you have to interpret those specs and you have to do your best job of self-directing and I would have to say in this day and age, that is the toughest thing for any VO talent to do. Whether you’re a veteran or a newbie is being able to direct yourself and not overdo it or underdo it. Not throw in an audition like the last one we just heard that was… kind of felt like a throw away, but not go so far that you’re just trying to make it 1% better and driving yourself crazy and doing 30 takes. So directing yourself it’s an art. It just comes with time.

Julianna Lantz:
A learned skill.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yeah. Don’t read the copy more than five or six times because will only go from wherever it is to worse. Is that a fair statement?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Yeah. That’s how I feel, at least. I’ve never gone and done that sixth or seventh take and had it sound better than the second or third. I feel like a lot of times when you get better and you become more of a pro, you can nail the first read. They call it a one read. But sometimes you need the one just to warm up and then two and three were pretty solid. Maybe four you find some gold, but more often than not, four or five, six it starts going downhill. Don’t overthink it.

Julianna Lantz:
And think too, if you have trouble doing 15 seconds of copy for the audition, how hard is it going to be to book the job, and then have to read five minutes of copy like that.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
That’s a great point.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
All right. Well, I think we found ourselves at that time. We all know what time it is. It’s time to now say who the winner of Mission Audition is. Eric-

Eric Wibbelsmann:
Can I get the drum roll?

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
… in your vast knowledge… Oh, yes you can. Here we go again.

Julianna Lantz:
All right.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
And lucky number four.

Julianna Lantz:
Yay.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Congratulations, number four. Let’s hear it.

Audition 4:
We feed our Rufus Nature’s Special Menu, all natural dog food. With no artificials or flavors, I know that we are treating him as well as he treats us. Nature’s Special Menu, all natural dog food, found in your major department store.

Eric Wibbelsmann:
This was a guy that was nice and relaxed. His audio quality was great. I thought he connected well with the demographics, with the listener. He has the right voiceprint, the right voice style, and he was just himself. He was talking to a buddy and that’s a good solid read. That’s bookable.

Julianna Lantz:
Yep. That was awesome.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Wow. Well, again, congratulations to our fourth auditioner. That was awesome. We’d like to thank you for listening, but we know that our guests is very special and we want to make sure that you can learn more about him or find out how to connect. Eric, what is the best way for someone to learn from what you’re doing in your career? Or maybe to throw you a tweet or a question after the fact?

Eric Wibbelsmann:
You can find me online at ericvo.com. Very easy. That’s my website, ericvo.com.

Julianna Lantz:
And remember if you’re new to the industry, your voices.com profile is of great web presence. Your URL is unique to you and you can share that with clients and they can hire you through your demos. And remember, you have a hundred megabytes of space available to you, which is tons of demos. I know some people have over 50 demos on their profile. You’ve got lots of room to showcase all the amazing voices you can do.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Right. Well, that’s the episode. Thank you so much for listening and be sure to continue listening to us wherever you are streaming this podcast.

Julianna Lantz:
Yeah, we love being on this journey with you guys. Thanks for listening and happy auditioning.

Stephanie Ciccarelli
Stephanie Ciccarelli is a Co-Founder of Voices. Classically trained in voice 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. For over 25 years, Stephanie has used her voice to communicate what is most important to her through the spoken and written word. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, Stephanie has been a contributor to The Huffington Post, Backstage magazine, Stage 32 and the Voices.com blog. 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®.
Connect with Stephanie on:
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Comments

  • JOANNA RUBIO
    March 30, 2019, 8:28 pm

    Thank you Eric 😉

    taking good notes of all !

    Reply
    • Stephanie Ciccarelli
      April 1, 2019, 7:54 pm

      Hi Joanna! Wonderful to hear from you! Good to hear you were taking notes. Thank you for tuning in. I hope you are subscribed to the show to receive future episodes 🙂

      Reply
  • Dr Michael Pilon
    March 31, 2019, 11:04 pm

    As a newbie, I am a retired dentist who served in the Military and in civilian practice. I got into Voice over because some people said they “Liked my voice” It is a very wide situation with so many exciting things to learn . These Mission Audition features are great. I can see changes iln my presentations. Thanks so much. Mike in Ottawa

    Reply
    • Stephanie Ciccarelli
      April 1, 2019, 7:55 pm

      Hi Mike, so good to hear from you! Thank you for sharing how the podcast has been helpful to you. Looking forward to going on this journey together. Happy auditioning!

      Reply
  • Denise Thistlewaite
    April 1, 2019, 2:13 pm

    This was a great piece. Helpful advice and nailed the point. Thanks to all three of you.

    Reply
  • Stephanie Ciccarelli
    April 1, 2019, 7:56 pm

    Hi Denise, thank you for sharing! It’s great to hear from you. We value your kind words and are looking forward to creating more episodes of Mission Audition. If there are any topics that you’d like to see us address on the show, or skills you’d like to learn more about, please let me know. Happy to hear your thoughts!

    Reply
  • Brett
    April 4, 2019, 9:45 am

    First podcast on voice acting I have heard yet that I actually felt like I learned something. I took a whole page of notes! On the subject of audio quality in our recordings, is there some way to check it? I think the quality sounds fine, but I could easily be missing something. I’d hate to think I’m being excluded from the casting because of something I don’t even notice, but submit every time.

    Reply
    • Stephanie Ciccarelli
      April 8, 2019, 4:49 pm

      Great to hear from you, Brett! We are so excited to discover how this podcast is benefiting the voice over community and impacting voice actors and how you go about your day-to-day. Such a privilege to be on your radar. Thank you for listening to the podcast. If you haven’t already done so, subscribe to us wherever you stream your podcasts so you get episodes right away. That would be fantastic!

      Reply
  • Jeff
    April 4, 2019, 7:08 pm

    Allowed me to critically review my past auditions and learn from them.

    Reply
    • Stephanie Ciccarelli
      April 8, 2019, 4:50 pm

      Thanks for sharing your feedback with us, Jeff. That’s one of the reasons why we’re doing this. To give you tools and practical examples of what’s what with expert feedback. Thank you for tuning in.

      Reply
  • Keith Dunford
    April 4, 2019, 9:02 pm

    Great podcasts all, learned something new from each. The professional critiques of auditions were particularly interesting and informative. Thanks to all.

    Reply
    • Stephanie Ciccarelli
      April 8, 2019, 4:51 pm

      Sweet! That’s what we’re going for. Thank you for sharing how Mission Audition impacts you, Keith. We’re looking forward to getting more episodes online to continue the conversations around what it takes to book voice acting jobs online.

      Reply
  • Andre Johnson
    April 7, 2019, 7:45 am

    Well, I have to say that was one of the most informative VO sessions that I have listened to since I launched my VO career last year! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I took plenty of notes! I’ve been auditioning on voices.com and have accrued 19 ‘liked’ auditions but only booked a couple of those. Is there anyway I could get a critique of one of my ‘liked’ auditions?

    Reply
  • Stephanie Ciccarelli
    April 8, 2019, 5:03 pm

    Hi Andre, thank you for your feedback! I’m so pleased to hear it. There sure is a way for subscribing members of Voices.com to get their auditions critiqued. Any subscribing member can request a consultation with our Talent Success Specialist. This is a new offering that helps voice actors gain a greater understanding of how to leverage the Voices.com platform with the goal of achieving more success in online casting. Early feedback is that some of these talent are booking work within a couple weeks of having their consultation with our Talent Success Specialist.

    Here’s a link to an FAQ at Voices.com that shares more about what goes into the consultation, who qualifies to receive consultations as well as what you can expect.
    https://www.voices.com/help/knowledge/faq/talent-success-specialist

    One of our team members will be reaching out to you with a link to where you can book your consultation. Please keep your eye out for the email!

    Reply
  • Angie Rosecrans
    April 17, 2019, 10:24 pm

    This was great! Very informative with some take-aways I’ll be incorporating into my auditions.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Stephanie Ciccarelli
      April 24, 2019, 11:32 pm

      Great to hear you enjoyed the show! Thank you for commenting, Angie, and for sharing how you’ll be including these tips in your auditions. We’re glad you are part of our community.

      Reply
  • Mariette Slovak
    April 18, 2019, 1:43 pm

    OMG! This was sooo amazing. I am new to this industry and I am from Central Europe where there are not many possibilities how to learn this, except when one go to acting school. Questions of ladies were perfect! Exactly what I would ask! In this field are many words which are used in specific way, definitions of these words are not necessarily possible to find in dictionaries. It was really good you went through several auditions, it is quite hard to know what is really needed and wanted from us, at least at the beginning. I have build recording studio from my little closet, I know that quality of recording is not that bad but I really do not know how do I sound, what I need to improve. I must say this Mission Audition was very helpful and although I am foreigner I was able to understand and follow you all the way! I keep getting impressed with Voices.com. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Stephanie Ciccarelli
      April 24, 2019, 11:33 pm

      Mariette, what a pleasure to hear from you. Thank you for letting us know that we’re reaching you in Central Europe! That’s amazing. I read your comment aloud to the team during our weekly meeting and they were so encouraged. Keep listening! If there’s ever a topic you’d like to learn more about, be sure to let us know. One great way is to tweet to @voices on Twitter with the hashtag, #missionaudition

      Reply
  • Crystal Whitney
    April 22, 2019, 7:36 pm

    Many thanks to Julianna, Stephanie and special guest Eric Wibbelsmann! This “Mission Audition” is the first podcast that I’ve listened too. I took 2 pages worth of notes that will very helpful in my auditions. I’m a newbie and am even more excited now that I’m armed with this information! I intend to subscribe to more podcasts too! Thanks again, please keep these coming!

    Reply
    • Stephanie Ciccarelli
      April 24, 2019, 11:32 pm

      Wow! This is exceptional, Crystal. Thank you so much for listening and for being part of our community here at Voices.com. Mission Audition is really helping people, and that’s exactly the goal. I’m so pleased to hear what the podcast has done for you and what it means to you.

      Reply
  • Amanda Woodhouse
    April 24, 2019, 4:40 am

    Hi Stephanie
    I am newer I been doing this for a while I would like to know how to get my profile 100% so when I see auditions that come in they will be 100% ones. Great podcast, taking notes.

    Reply
    • Stephanie Ciccarelli
      April 25, 2019, 2:16 am

      Hi Amanda,

      Thank you for commenting! I hope all is well with you. We can definitely set up a time for someone to walk you through getting 100% profile completeness. I have asked that a member of my team reach out to you and take things from there.

      So happy that you’re tuning in!

      Take care,
      Stephanie

      Reply
  • Earl Thomas
    May 1, 2019, 5:06 pm

    Thanks for great tips. In auditioning Voices.com sugessts to voice a brief segment. The reads appear to be longer. Do you have a tip on which section of the copy to read.

    Reply
    • Stephanie Ciccarelli
      May 1, 2019, 6:14 pm

      Hi Earl,

      Thank you for your comment and question. I hope my reply finds you well.

      You’re right, the reads in this episode of Mission Audition are longer than :15 seconds or so. Commercial scripts are traditionally shorter than say an audiobook, phone system or eLearning for instance, and at times it might be in your best interest to read a bit more (like you’re auditioning for a project that a client is working directly with Voices.com on, not just a job the client posted on their own).

      One of the benefits of hearing longer auditions on the podcast is that you more of a complete picture of how a read is evaluated should someone listen from start to finish. The longer someone listens to a read, the more interested they generally are.

      At the end of the day, it’s at your discretion for exactly how long you should read for. A good rule of thumb is to read in the neighborhood of :15 to :20 seconds from a script or piece of copy.

      Take care,
      Stephanie

      Reply
  • Gaynelle Buntenbach
    August 11, 2019, 10:19 pm

    Just alluring!!

    Reply
  • Oliver Llaban
    March 27, 2020, 1:27 pm

    This is really a good help for me as an aspiring to do voice over at home. I took a lot of notes. By the way I am from the Philippines.

    Reply
    • Oliver Skinner
      June 1, 2020, 8:12 pm

      Hey Oliver,

      That’s great to hear!

      Wishing you all the best on your voice acting journey.
      Oliver

      Reply