The Adventure of Finding Missing Clients

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Fellowship of the Ring”

adventure-forest-nature-1024x683_webA challenge I have maintaining my client list happens when contacts are no longer reachable. Personnel changes occur all the time; most people move from one job to another every two years. After they transition to their next job, my contact information for them is useless.

When a contact goes missing, my business with the company they left behind could potentially come to an unnecessary halt. I work hard to build relationships with clients, so I diligently attempt to get plugged back in to my client’s consciousness.

Think of it as going on an adventure with two positive outcomes in mind.

  1. Getting a New Client
  2. Meeting a New Contact

The Adventure Begins

Here’s the method I use to reconnect with a contact who has moved to another company, and to introduce myself to the person who replaced them.

Previous Contact: the Gateway to a New Client

When you find that a contact has gone wandering (moved to another company or seemed to have dropped off the face of the planet!) do the following.

  1. Locate where your contact landed. LinkedIn is probably the best resource for tracking professional status. Search for the contact’s name and the name of the last known company they worked for.
  2. When you find the name, send them a LinkedIn connection request, if you’re not already connected. Should you not find them, search their name with Google.
  3. Once you’ve established a connection, congratulate them on their move to a new job then ask for their new e-mail address. Offer to follow up with your complete contact details.

Previous Client: Say Hello to a New Contact

When a contact leaves a client company, there’s a hole to fill. Make a point of getting acquainted with the new person.

  1. After you reconnect with your contact who moved to a new company, ask them if they know the name of the person who replaced them at their previous company or the best contact for getting the information.
  2. If you were not able to reconnect with the contact or after reconnecting they didn’t know the name of the new person at their old company, make a call to the company you’re trying to reconnect with.
  3. Ask to talk with the person you want to reach by their title. “Hi, could you connect me to the Marketing Director?” Use whatever title your previous company contact had. Then, explain that you’re a voiceover talent who worked on projects for their company in the past. You’re calling to establish a connection with the new Marketing Director.
  4. Since the new person doesn’t know you, introductions are necessary. Once connected, let the new contact know you worked with their company before and are calling to exchange contact information. Ask for their e-mail address and offer to follow up with your complete contact details.

Adventure’s End

When you send the introductory e-mail with your contact details, ask the recipient to respond with a confirmation that they received your message and ask them to include their contact information in the reply.

If they don’t reply the same day, wait a few days and send them a follow up e-mail, “I’m following up to make sure you received my intro e-mail and contact information. I’d like to have up to date info for you, so please feel free to send your contact details.”

Rest After Your Adventure

It’s some work but the payoff is in the details, and it could be huge. I know from personal experience that the work is worth the time.

Do you have a different process? I’d like to hear about it. I’m looking for ways to improve mine.

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

Other posts you might find interesting:
6 Questions to Ask Mr. Google!
Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away
Are You Available?

Session Improvement Tips for Producers from Voice Talents

Tips-and-ToolsFill in the blank: “During my last session, I wished the producer would have ________________________.”

Or, if you’re a producer, “During my last session with a voice talent, I wished I would have ________________________.”

The job of a producer is not an easy one. They are part psychologist, part friend and part conductor. One minute, hand-holding a talent through a tricky script read.  The next minute, driving to keep the session from going off the rails.

Good producers want you to perform well and will do what it takes to bring out your best.

At the end of one of my sessions, I was asked by the producer if I had time to chat about working with voice talent. I was the first he’d directed and he felt unsure of his working method.

He was asking about what to do and know before the session begins and how to direct during the session.  I came up with a handful of suggestions, which I shared with the producer.

It Got Me Thinking

Afterwards, I wondered if I may have missed something so I asked the Voice-Over Pros group on Facebook for their thoughts and suggestions.

Their responses were brilliant and clearly came from the perspective of having worked with many producers over several years.

Another producer recently asked me for similar feedback so maybe there are others who would like the same. I think it’s good idea to make the info available to a wider audience.  So, I’ve compiled the best responses from Facebook and removed contributor names since the group is closed.

From The Mouths Of VO Pros

If you’re a producer, consider the things you may be missing. If you’re a voice talent, here’s some useful insight to remember during your next session.

Imagine being at the local pub or coffee joint and overhearing this conversation…

“Keep the sessions light, relaxed and fun where possible. Nobody’s life is on the line.”

“The thing about voice talent, as apposed to actors doing VO, is that we are generally affable and have a desire to fulfill the vision of the producer rather than have the producer conform to our artistic vision…”

“Always compliment them first.”

“Clear communication… From my time in the producer’s chair I found that open clear communication and friendliness got what I needed every time…it’s recording, not rocket science…”

“Keep their confidence high.”

“One safety is appropriate. When a producer asks for SEVERAL safeties then I’ve either not hit the magic spot or I’m totally clueless to what I’m being directed to do. In either situation, those extra takes are really not for safety, it’s more like the director saying, “what else ya got?” Yeah, there are times what a director says and what a talent hears is a mismatch.”

“…cant tell you how many sessions have been saved because of safety takes. Some times there are micro issues in your “good” take that you don’t hear until final processing of the vocals….and many times, the safety take can be even better than the “good” one….because the “pressure” is off the talent. I used that as a technique to get the delivery I wanted on numerous occasions…”

“In a commercial session, time your script before the session starts, and if it’s in danger of being long, have some edits in mind beforehand.”

“Always have the check cut so you can pay the talent when they leave!”

“Be positive, encouraging, and be mindful of the fact you both want the same thing and by working together you’ll accomplish it.”

“Trust the talent to tell the story. Don’t microdirect!”

“I’d never say this to a producer but: Know what you’re looking for before you hear it.”

“Sometimes the talent is not seeing the story the way the producer is hearing the story in their minds. I remember working with a talent once a long time ago in a galaxy far away where I was directing something that I had written. I could not get the talent to inflect the words I wanted inflected. I do this to myself in self-directed sessions. I record, and then during the edit I hear that I inflected the second word in a two-word grouping and send myself back into the booth to redo it. Sometimes by the time I get into the booth and find the script and record it again, I end up doing the same thing.”

“My advice to producers is, don’t settle. If you haven’t gotten exactly what you wanted, explain what you want done differently and go again. And once you do get what you want, say so.

“The moment a Producer makes the vo perp feel welcome, and at home, he/she can lead you a million miles in any direction.”

“It’s challenging working with anyone who isn’t sure what they’re looking for and it seems a bit time consuming coaching a client or producer on how to coach us. In the friendliest way possible, I would tell them to call me when they have a good idea on how they want the script read. Or, if the rate is good and the script is short, I don’t mind doing multiple takes for them and avoiding the live directed session altogether.”

“Know what you want! Be open to possibilities…but know what you want before the talent steps in front of the mic.”

“… remember why you hired this particular talent in the first place. They are trying to essentially interpret what is in your head and give their own spin on it.”

“…be clear in your communication on what you are listening for…. and if you don’t know, let the talent know that you would like to try a few different approaches to the project and even ask for suggestions. Creating a comfortable atmosphere is also a big help…”

“I agree with everyone else and would add: have another person look over your script and make sure it’s at least assumed to be the ‘final’ before you bring in the talent.”

This virtual conversion was priceless and full of suggestions that would help make most sessions a breeze to get through.

My Advice

Adding to what was said by other VO Pros, this is what I shared with my producer:

  1. Make sure the script is final and has been approved by the client.
  2. Keep the session relaxed and offer input when necessary.
  3. Allow the talent some creative freedom.
  4. Keep the momentum of the session moving forward.
  5. Take breaks during long-from narration sessions.
  6. When hearing mouth noises, suggest a water break.
  7. For short sessions with commercial scripts, allow the talent to make it through the script once before taking them in a different direction.

I’m sure there are more that haven’t been mentioned. So, I ask you, what would be the single best thing you would share with a producer or director that would improve their workflow during sessions?

Please leave your comments below.

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

Other posts you might find interesting:
Five Tips for Better Client/Talent Workflow
Unplugged and Loved It!
The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

How do I become a voice talent? (An Easy-to-Use Answer)

  • 6632470867_ba032a9bf2_o“How does one get started getting work as a person doing voiceovers?”
  • “I have received comments throughout my life about my voice and how it would be great on the radio or TV.”
  • “I’m curious to find out more about what doing voiceovers actually entails.”
  • “Any words of wisdom about voice work for one such as myself?”
  • “I am a theater actress interested in pursuing a career in voice over and was impressed by your credentials and education and thought I’d shoot you an email.”

And so it begins.

Every week, I receive at least one request for information on how to bust into the business of voiceover. Maybe you do too.  So, what is the best way to respond?

I’ve posted my thoughts to many forums -suggesting how to proceed, so I’m pretty sure my name has come up in a Google search. I’m honored! I don’t have a problem with people contacting me for info for a couple of reasons:

  1. Many established voiceover talents received questions from me when I was investigating VO. I got some amazing, helpful answers and guidance. So, I’m paying it forward.
  2. The person asking me for guidance is willing to do some ground work before moving forward. I respect that.

Instead of handcrafting a personalized response every time I’m asked the question, I’ve written what I think is something every person considering a career in voice work should read. I’m so convinced of its usefulness, that I’m sharing it with you today.

Social media has made people who once read in to scanners and verbose content is passed over as too wordy. I deliberately kept my letter brief and to the point so the VO-curious can quickly be on their way.

Please, don’t hesitate to copy and paste verbatim what I’ve written into an e-mail or social media conduit. Or, change it as you see fit. And feel free to link back to my website, JChristopherDunn.com.

The Letter

Re: How do I become a voice talent?

Hello,

There is a well written e-book, YouTube videos and a number of blogs that cover getting (back) into voice work, which should answer a number of your questions. My top-level advice is to research the business, talk with many voice talents and keep your day job.

With that said, start with the free e-book, “Voices of Experience,” written by working unnouncer Doug Turkel.

Next, check out Peter K. O’Connell’sThe Voiceover Entrance Exam.”

Professional Voice Talent Paul Strikwerda has made a career in voiceover for over 20-years. His YouTube video, “The Troublesome Truth about a Voice-Over Career” provides educational insight for anybody considering creating voiceovers for a living.

After you’ve read and watched the above and are still set on making voiceover your choice for earning money, read Rachel Fulginiti’sThinking Of A Career In Voice Over? 10 Key Questions To Evaluate Your Potential.”

Audiobooks are a popular segment for many voice talents. If this area interests you, watch narrator Sean Pratt’s video, “So… You Want to Be an Audiobook Narrator?

And then take a look at the following posts, blogs and websites…

Finally, do a Google search on voice-overs, voiceover, “voice over”.

I’m sure you’ll have questions as you read so feel free to contact the article writers for answers or suggestions.

Good luck with your future endeavors and remember, KEEP YOUR DAY JOB!!!

All the best,
J. Christopher Dunn

Does it work?

Specific. Informational. Relevant. This will get them on their way to more research and will have them making their own choices about whether the voiceover universe has room for them.

What do you think? Is this the right message to send to hopefuls? What would you add or change? Please share your comments below.

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

Other posts you might find interesting:
6 Questions to Ask Mr. Google!
Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away
Are You Available?

Choice: The Evolution in Voiceover Rates

confused 3d character standing under direction boardHaving choices is a good thing. When I get my car washed I have a choice of three different levels. Silver, Gold, or Platinum and each level provides a bit more than its lower-priced sibling. I see the value of Platinum when compared to Silver and typically settle for Gold. I determine the value of my purchase and decide which suits my needs.

The idea of choice is something I’ve been considering for my studio. Offering three price points for professional services, each building on the services of the previous, just like the car wash. Would this give clients the perception of better control of their purchase or just confuse the process?

Currently, my rate per project includes a full range of services for one base price. This example is for non-broadcast and the size of the script and intended audience would impact the final rate.

SampleServices

Breaking things down into price point levels would look something like this:

The rate for the Green Package would be what I’d typically charge for a job. For example let’s say my current rate is $200 for up to 2-minutes of explainer video narration. With the tiered levels Green would be $200, White would be only 10% less than Green or $180. Purple would be 25% more than Green or $250.

I’m guessing I’d want the step-up between White and Green insignificant enough that clients would feel it was a good value for the small increase in price. The value proposition should still be in place between Green and Purple but maybe one that the client has to really consider before selecting it.

Another option is to create perceived value by pricing the Green and Purple identically. Numbers could be $200 for White, $250 for Green, $250 for Purple. According to a study by Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics, when a group of MIT students were presented with price points like those outlined above, Green was totally ignored and Purple was identified as the best deal.

However, when Green was removed, the students selected White because there was too much contrast between White and Purple. The students became bargain hunters and convinced themselves they didn’t need the upgrade. Hmmm…

Is there another rate method that might work better? I’d like to know your thoughts and ideas. Please share your suggestions in the comments box below.

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

Other posts you might find interesting:
6 Questions to Ask Mr. Google!
Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away
Are You Available?

A Fish Story and Your Studio

Lake Quinalt Lodge
Lake Quinalt Lodge

A few weeks ago, Cameron and I traveled to the Olympic Peninsula to spend a few days at the beautiful, historic Lake Quinault Lodge. The weather was unseasonably perfect with sunshine and comfortable temperatures. It was a perfect getaway.

Before we made it to the lodge, we took a detour to Neah Bay to enjoy the Makah Museum and grab some smoked salmon Cam read about in Yelp. The museum was spectacular with many Native Makah artifacts and loads of historical references and information about the Makahs. It was well worth the drive.

TakeHomeFish
Take Home Fish Co.

Our other destination, Take Home Fish Company, was quite a surprise. When Cameron told me about it, I imagined a well-lit store with a refrigerator case packed with smoked salmon and other delicious Pacific Northwest treats. To my shock, my imagined fish shop was nothing more than a garage, slightly modified to be used as a fish shack.

Diesel flavored smoked salmon swam through my thoughts.

We walked in feeling skeptical about the offerings. Diesel flavored smoked salmon swam through my thoughts. The guy behind the small counter presented us with a number of options, which were neatly vacuum packed and ready for immediate sale.

This was it? I admit, I hadn’t taken the time to check out Yelp to see what this place was about. I was close to walking out without spending a dime. Cameron was a more willing customer and decided on two vac-packs of smoked fish, one salmon the other deep sea black cod.

Makah Bay
Makah Bay

As we drove away from Neah Bay with our purchase, I started thinking about the many voice talents starting out who create their magic from a closet, spare bedroom and other home areas that don’t resemble a studio, even remotely. If an area can be treated and used to record and the result is flawless fidelity, what does it matter?

I’ve read studio descriptions from established talent who don’t record in a closet or bedroom but have an acoustically designed booth of some sort. I congratulate them for making the financial decision to invest in their recording area. But, it’s uncool to trash talk those who work out of something less and still deliver amazing audio.

Evidently the clients don’t care as long as it sounds good.

The deliverable is what the client is most interested about. I’m pretty sure they care 1% or less how or where their ready-to-use sound was created. They know what sounds good for their project. I’ve read about jobs being done in hotel rooms with comforters, blankets and pillows used to create a satisfactory recording environment. Evidently the clients don’t care as long as it sounds good. It they did care where it was recorded few people, if any, would record on the road.

Lake Quinault
Lake Quinault

And, as for the smoked fish? Best. Smoked. Fish. EVAR! It was tasty and the perfect first meal at the Quinault Lodge. We gobbled down the fish along with some cheddar cheese, sourdough bread and a few glasses of port. Kimm, the owner of Take Home Fish Co. didn’t need a fancy store or state of the art tools to create what will be tough to beat by anybody else smoking fish. He had talent and an understanding of how to best use his workspace.

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

Other posts you might find interesting:
6 Questions to Ask Mr. Google!
Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away
Are You Available?

Your Best Narration is Just a Breath Away

 

monkeysDo you find yourself meticulously removing every breath in recorded audio like a chimpanzee nit-picking fellow chimps? You may be afflicted.

It starts with difficult breathing brought on by nervousness and stress. It’s recorded as gasping for air or a huge sucking sound.

Common studio remedies include removal or the significant reduction of breath noises. This process can build to neurosis, where beginner to professional voice talent compulsively delete every obnoxious, normal and subtle breath recorded.

If this describes you, you may be suffering from Spiritus Aveho.

Spiritus – The Latin word for “Breath” and defined as: breath, breathing / life / spirit.

Aveho – The Latin word for “Remove” and defined as: to carry away / remove.

This OCD variant troubles many professional voice-talent and producers from beginner to expert.

Well, take a deep breath and relax.  Help is available. With treatment and self-help strategies, you can break free of the unwanted thoughts and irrational urges and take back control of your life and your breath.

Have you ever been asked not to breathe while talking? Have you experienced a conversation where you’ve been asked to repeat what you said, but to do so without taking a breath? Of course you haven’t.

Like conversation, narration is suited well for the inclusion of breath sounds. It’s OK.

Preventive Treatment

Most times, treatment is as easy as becoming familiar with your script and minimizing stress. Taking only a few minutes to prepare the words you’ll be reading with indicators to breathe will make you sound more natural and full of life. And, reduce stress by including deep breathing exercises as part of your daily warm-up routine.

Wake in the morning feeling alive and free to breathe and keep Spiritus Aveho out of your studio.

Killing the Microphone by rawmarius

Not to be confused with other oral noises such as mouth clicks, lip smacks, tongue ticking or spit bubble pops. Tummy noises may also happen during sessions, so make sure to eat ahead of recording, but avoid the foods which cause mouth clicks, ticking, smacks and pops. Staying hydrated and getting enough sleep also helps reduce stress.

Avoid Spiritus Aveho and breathe life into your scripts. Don’t become an unnatural sounding breathless voice-over zombie.

 

© 2015 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance

6 Questions to Ask Mr. Google!

MrGoogle2The Google search box begs me to type in a question whenever I pop open a browser. The code-smiths of Google have spent years creating and refining their cornerstone service. Of the search engines available, Google is by far the most robust and powerful answer retriever available.

Google made search non-geeky by allowing the use of simple phrases. That’s helpful to me when I’m working in my studio; I’d rather reserve my brain power for creativeness behind the mic. Here are a few tools I use regularly that you should try.

Say WHAT?!

Whenever I get a script that has a word I don’t know how to pronounce, my go to helper is Google. The results include entries from several sources including Forvo.com, howjsay.com and others. This comes in handy for audition scripts when the client isn’t available. And, it’s particularly helpful for audiobook production. In the search bar type in…

How do you pronounce [word I’d like pronounced]
(How do you pronounce discombobulated)

At the Tone, the Time is…

I’ve got clients all over the planet and the multiple time zones are difficult to keep straight. A quick way to check current time info is to ask Google. The current time, date, and time zone displays taking the guess work out of calling a client at an appropriate time. Type in…

What time is it in [City] [State] or [Zip Code]
(What time is it in Pie Town NM) 

City and State, Please.

When I’m crafting one-off marketing e-mail to clients, I like to check out what’s going on in their town so I can personalize my message. Google makes getting quick details a snap! I get the basics, including time and current weather, plus points of interest, upcoming events and more. Type in…

[City] [State]
(Poughkeepsie NY)

It’s How Far?

Got a gig at a studio in another town? When your travel expenses include mileage and you need a quick way to calculate the distance, Google is the undisputed source for speed. Type in…

[Starting point] to [Ending point]
(Left Hand WV to West Thumb WY)

Convert this!

With clients all over the globe, I occasionally have one that want’s to pay me in their local currency. Google has a mind for conversion and has no problem returning a value based on the current exchange rate. Type in…

[Amount] [Currency 1] to [Currency 2]
(1500 USD to GBP)

Let Me Google That for You

Could an answer be just a Google search away? You probably know somebody who asks questions that trigger you to think, “Why don’t you just Google it?” To help them see the laziness of their ways, use LMGTFY to create a search and send it for them to use.

This is my fav… http://lmgtfy.com/?q=How+do+I+become+a+voice+talent%3F

 

Those are the ones I use the most, and of course there are many more Google tips and tricks to discover. What is your favorite Google shortcut or tool—one you couldn’t get along without in your studio?

© 2014 J. Christopher Dunn

 

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away

5 Reader Recommended VO Podcasts Not to Miss

The Disturbing Voice Disappearance