VoiceWorld Toronto, It’s a Voice Conference

You may or may not be a professional voice person but you are somebody who enjoys learning about the biz, right? Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading a blog about voiceovers. Now that I have that out of the way, I would like to direct your attention the information below. You’ll find details about VoiceWorld Toronto Conference.

This will be a key opportunity for you to meet like minded people, hear from experts that have been doing the voiceover craft for decades and enjoy the beautiful city of Toronto.

VoiceWorld Toronto Conference

Date: Saturday May 4th, 2013
Time: 8:00 am – 5:30pm
Location: Toronto Hilton Hotel

Prepare to be educated, equipped and empowered

  • Audition like a pro — understand the do’s and don’ts of auditioning in person and online.
  • Learn the ins and outs of the voice acting business, and what it takes to be a successful voice-over talent.
  • Get into business — explore ways to turn your voice acting talent into a business.

About VoiceWorld Toronto

VoiceWorld, the industry’s premier conference, being held in Toronto in 2013, is an immersive experience focused on engaging voice actors from across Canada and the United States. Connect with amazing, influential people who can change your life through courses in artistic development, business and technology preparing you for success in the exciting world of voice acting. A breath of fresh air, VoiceWorld sets out to invigorate and intensify your love for the art of voice acting as never before with an action plan for you to take your business to the next level.

VoiceWorld Toronto Speakers

  • Pat Fraley – Man of Four Thousand Voices, CESD Talent Los Angeles
  • Elley-Ray Hennessy – Award-winning actress, Director and Producer
  • Deb Munro – International Voice-over Talent and Coach
  • David Ciccarelli – Co-Founder and CEO of Voices.com
  • David Goldberg – Owner of Edge Studio
  • Dan Lenard – The Home Studio Master
  • Sunday Muse – Voice-over Artist, Author and Coach
  • Dave McRae – The Voice Mann
  • Stephanie Ciccarelli – Author of Voice Acting for Dummies
  • Wayne Young – Audio Producer and Mixing Engineer

10 Reasons To Attend VoiceWorld Toronto

Early Bird Special ends February 28th!

*Tickets are limited. Purchase your full conference pass by visiting, http://voiceworldtoronto2013.eventbrite.com/

Voice World Toronto
Join us in Toronto for the voice acting conference of the year on Saturday May 4th, 2013.

Five Web-Based Tools for the Voice-Over Kind

ToolsThere was a time when I thought the only software tool worth having was one that I installed to my computer’s hard drive. Using a tool through my browser seemed lame and I always believed that they would be slow and useless. Really, how many online calculators do I need to bookmark?

At some point, I made the decision that internet centric tools were not a bad thing. I have 67 bookmarks for various tools and services that I use monthly if not weekly. I don’t know when I made the transition; I didn’t feel a thing when it happened. In celebration of interweb tools, I’m sharing 5 that might be worthy enough for you to bookmark.

Write Once, Connect with Many

One of the easiest ways to stay in touch with your clients and prospective clients is with an e-mail blast. Write one newsletter and send it to many. There are several web-based tools and services that will help you out with this, many offer free delivery to a set number of recipients. I use MailChimp because of it’s hand-holding ease of use, reporting capabilities and clean mail list maintenance. Others to consider:

One to One Connection

When yon need to send a one-off e-mail to a client it’s possible that you’ll be stumped as to what to write. You know what you want to say, but don’t know how to say it. Taking a look at letter examples is one way to crush the writing block. For example, sending a thank you note to a client is a personal way to show your appreciation for being hired for the gig. Thank You Note Examples and Tips is a great site that lists many ways to say thank you. Check out these other sites for more types of business letters.

It’s Not Who You Know, But How Much Money They Owe

Keeping track of invoices and accounting is not fun. Compared to doing voice-overs its like shoving ear-buds up my nose. So, I turn to what I think is the best online accounting software, QuickBooks Online. Intuit has done a great job of creating a user interface that’s friendly and the setup process is a snap. Enter business details, add client information, configure your accounts and you’re ready to start billing. Other choices to consider:

How to Say It

When I receive a script or audiobook, the first thing I do is review it for unfamiliar words. If I find any, I have the option to follow up with the client (which is preferable), or investigate it on my own by using one or two online pronunciation guides. The first one I check is Forvo, a site with voiceover talent in mind. Type in a word, click go and most times the correct pronunciation is available to hear. You can even add to the Forvo database with your own spoken word nightmares. Other word sites to check include:

Be Social with Pictures

If you’re not social, you might as well be doing one-handed claps in the forest. Social networking is big and you should be part of it. You’re probably familiar with blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter. However, it is Pinterest that’s currently getting major attention. With pictures, you pin or comment on your interests or the focus of your business. This makes a picture worth a thousand words more true than ever. Accounts are free and easy to setup.

  • Pinterest – If you’ve got an account you can easily convert it to one for your business.
  • Pingraphy – This tool allows you to upload “Pins”, schedule them to display when you want, check the traffic of your pins and who is following you.
  • Quozio – Paste your favorite quote into this tool and it transforms it into a graphic, suitable for posting to Pinterest.
  • Take your business Pinterest account to the next level with Pinfluencer, a tool for marketing and analytics.

New web-tools hit the net daily and I’m always surprised by the latest additions. What web based tools have you discovered that are indispensable in your voiceover or freelance business? Leave a comment below and tell me about your favorite finds.

Other posts that you might find interesting:

Eight-Steps to Detoxify Rude Clients

CrabypantsYou’ve completed a project that should satisfy your customer’s needs. You worked hard to keep all of their directions and desires in mind while creating their voice-over or other freelance deliverable. After you send it to him, Mr. Crankypants promptly responds either with a call or e-mail to unload his unhappiness about what he received, and he is not nice about it! What to do?

1.  Smile.

Stay focused. Read or listen for clues why they are unhappy and above all else, smile. Don’t let Crankypants bring you down to his or her level. Be determined to remain positive during your interaction. If replying in e-mail, keep the tone of your message positive. When talking with them on the phone, keep a warm, honest smile in your voice. And if you’re dealing with your client in person, keep the corners of your mouth up in a genuine smile. Difficult? Yes, but so important to do.

2.  Allow your client to do the talking and ask open ended questions to keep the conversation moving forward.

Everybody has an occasional bad day. Don’t stop Mr. Crankypants from opening up and expressing his feelings. It could be that he is unsure how to continue. Maybe a peer gave him super critical feedback and was strongly encouraged to unload on you. Maybe Mr. C. got a ticket on the way to work and your project was the first thing he saw when he sat down at his desk. When it’s your turn to speak, ask specifically what he doesn’t like. Collect as much information as possible.

3.  Apologize to the client and validate their feelings.

One of the quickest ways to defuse a perturbed client is to apologize for what they perceive as the thing making them angry. Validate their beliefs. You don’t have to agree about the complaint, but let Crankypants. know that you understand his feelings, you hear what he is saying.

4.  Continue to be neutral in tone.

Attempting to match Mr. Crankypants’ current, nasty disposition will not have a positive affect. Manage the situation so that emotions are filtered and information gathering continues. Using language that is positive or neutral rather than negative will a go a long way in getting to a resolution. Smile.

5.  Look or listen for the main issue.

While Crankypants may be venomous in general about something he believes is not right, pay attention for the one thing that has him in tantrumonious knots. When you let him talk or respond freely, he will get around to expressing the exact issue. Take notes while talking to Mr. Crankypants on the phone and take a moment to sift through his words in e-mail.

6.  Dial in your emotions.

When or if you find that dealing with Mr. Crankypants is becoming more than you can deal with, pause the interaction. Let Crankypants know that you’re looking into his issue and will need time to respond. This will likely give Crankypants time to chill and you time to gather your thoughts. Don’t become emotional because doing so will be the first step in loosing control of the situation. Remain emotionally intact.

7.  Neutralize the offensive behavior.

While Mr. C. is making you crazy with stinky behavior, don’t let your building negativity show. Regardless of what your third-grade math teacher told you, two negatives do not make a positive in this situation. Continue to let Crankypants know that you understand why he is displeased.

8.  Don’t take it personally.

As freelancers, we are very close to the work we create. We put a lot of time and creative effort into almost everything we deliver. When Mr. Crankypants is messing up your day with his indelicate attitude, try to remember it’s not about you but about the deliverable. That’s probably the hardest thing to accomplish out of this list of eight, but it’s important to compartmentalize your personality from your work. The attack is on your work, not you.

*Bonus Tip.

When you receive a scathing e-mail from a client who goes great lengths to define your skill or product as anything but valuable, the temptation may be to volley back a reply that is equally nasty. Go ahead and type out the response. That’s right. Create a new message and type away. Let that customer know you’re on to them. Make them feel diminished. Turn them to ashes with well placed inflammatory words and combustible phrases. Type until you can type no more. That’ll show ‘em! Now, the secret is that after you’re done typing, walk away and let the message simmer for ten-minutes or so.

When you come back to the message, find the key on your keyboard labeled Delete and press. The message goes to the trash along with your hurt, retaliatory feelings. You’ve gotten it off your chest and it’s time to take care of the customer with professionalism. Refer to the first step in this article and respond.

A Standard in Which to be Recognized

I take my car to a locally owned garage here in Coupeville. I get along well with the mechanics and I’ve always driven away feeling like my needs were met. When I first moved to the area, I considered a few auto repair shops. One of the things I took into account was whether a shop had Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certification. I understand what the certification stands for and know that it’s not easy to acquire. To be ASE Certified, mechanics take a number of exams, which typically only 66% pass on the first try. After passing, the mechanic provides proof of two years work experience and is then given certification. To maintain certification, the mechanic retests in five-years.

Can that model work for voice-over talent? There seems to be a divided certification camp.

On one side, the talent believes that being certified will provide them with peace of mind for having strived to meet the criteria for certification. Instead of listening to countless professionals with varying levels of experience and skill level for guidance as they grow their business, talents could refer to one organization whose goal is to improve the quality of voice-overs. I know that’s general in description but ultimately, that’s what certification is in any profession. Creating a standard by which to be measured. This helps talent seekers to weed out the crud and deal specifically with professionals who are qualified. No more wasted time with auditions that were recorded with a laptop microphone in the kitchen while dogs bark and kids scream in the background.

The argument against certification for voice-over talent is that it is simply not needed. There is nothing wrong with the state of the voice-over trade. People seeking artistic talent are not looking for anything other than somebody who can deliver the spoken word recording they need. Producers try out, through the audition process, any number of talent until they find the voice that fits their project. It’s not necessary to identify through certification that the talent can read as directed; has recording equipment and a decent, noise-free environment to record in. It will be obvious in the audition. It would not matter to voice-seekers that a talent’s web page or marketing includes a callout to their voice-over certification. It would not be clear what the certification represents or how it would benefit the results.

I’m aware of two players in the certification of voice-over talent. SaVoa.org is the first and is now going through somewhat of a reboot or reinvention of itself and appears to be close to taking applications again. The new kid in town is World-Voices.org, which has branded itself as “Voice Over’s new certifying Guild!” and is taking applications.

I’m an advocate for choice but I wonder if having two organizations that provide certification is worthwhile. Remember Blu-ray and HD or Betamax and VHF? While the competing standards had followers and each provided similar capabilities, there was only room for one ruler on each hill.

In my opinion, the best way for either to succeed is through aggressive marketing to voice-seekers paired with manageable ongoing educational guidance for certificate recipients. The first might make it apparent that considering a certified talent is more beneficial and cost-effective since the talent met an established standard. The second would encourage certified talents to continue building their skills with recognized educational paths. I’m sure there are others, but the certification should be couched as a “win/win” for seekers and talent.

I have mixed feelings about becoming certified and would like to hear your comments and opinions. What do you think? As a talent, what would be the advantage or disadvantage of being certified? As a talent seeker, could you be swayed to only work with certified talent?

To be, or not to be a CVT, that is the question.