15 Unfortunate VO Mistakes to Avoid

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There are a number of voiceover successes I’m very proud about from this past year. I don’t want to gush about anything specific, lest I trigger your sensitivity to bragging.

No, instead, I’m going to share a handful of things that made me smack my head in disbelief. These are my “Oh, yeah… I probably shouldn’t do that” moments, those little slices of time that remind me that I’m human, and not above making bonehead mistakes that make my peers say, “You did what!?”

  1. Using an iPad for script reading in place of paper is a smart, efficient move. Attempting to markup text with a pencil on an iPad is neither smart nor efficient.
  2. Listening to the always entertaining “NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour” while reviewing scripts will distract me from catching even the most obvious mistakes.
  3. Rehearsing an audition script while participating in a webinar is a fabulous way to multitask. Note to self: Make sure to mute the microphone when not interacting with the host or other participants. Nobody is interested to hear my practice runs broadcast across the web over the top of a live webinar.
  4. Listening to classical music empowers me to have uber-focus and smooths occasional pre-session jitters. Rocking out to AC/DC or Nazareth before a recording session is great for getting my pulse pounding; nerves rattling; and ends up being the opening act for multiple takes.
  5. Tis a bummer to record an award worthy session only to find out no sound was captured. Headphones are useful to verify that my audio gear is in record mode and not playback.
  6. High winds on Whidbey Island create a bellows effect in my house while recording and treats the diaphragm of my trusty Bluebird like a brown paper bag used for hyperventilation.
  7. Deep cleaning the house gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Vacuuming, de-cluttering and dusting. I like a clean house. The dusting part is great for setting histamines in motion, giving my voice a nasally, plugged up tone, suitable only for decongestant commercials.
  8. A thick, all cotton sweatshirt is not only necessary to keep me warm but also acts as an extra sound absorber in my booth, a former wine cellar. The same cannot be said for shirts made of corduroy.
  9. Contrary to the wishes of one overseas client, no matter how hard I try, I cannot sound “un-American”. My auditions sound like me, and I sound like my auditions.
  10. Comfortable shoes are important for long periods of standing behind the mic. Wearing shoes of various sole or heel heights from one day to the next causes my voice to take on inconsistent characteristics because mic proximity and sweet spot target became victims of my shoe fetish.
  11. Corks from wine bottles are useful in improving articulation for a lazy mouth. Wine that is aged in the bottle can be delicious. Wine aged on the cork is disgusting. A washed cork is a more agreeable experience.
  12. Staying hydrated is super important for me. It ensures that dry mouth is significantly reduced and all the parts inside my mouth are well lubed. My keyboard and mouse are not in need of the same attention. A water bottle left in their proximity is a setup for desktop disaster.
  13. Eating a yummy ham sandwich an hour before a patched session will make me drink 48 ounces of water during the session and cause SEVERE mouth noises. (Sorry Matt!)
  14. Chewing gum assists in getting rid of cotton mouth. However, while building well defined jaw muscles, it has an adverse affect on fluid mouth movement, making most speaking less articulate.
  15. Altoids are a great substitute for gum chewing. Chewing one before entering the booth creates minty fresh breath. It also provides my tongue an opportunity for calisthenics as I attempt to remove the crushed Altoid bits from my teeth. Suck, don’t chew!

You know you have them. Don’t be afraid to share them. What were your “Oh, yeah… I probably shouldn’t do that” moments in 2013?

Other posts you might find interesting:

Your Next Client Could be a Return Call Away
Task Manage the Goldilocks Way
Five Tips for Better Client/Talent Workflow

22 thoughts on “15 Unfortunate VO Mistakes to Avoid

  1. LoveThat Rebecca January 24, 2014 / 9:50 am

    Great list! I have absolutely had the altoid and shoe fetish problem!! Thanks for giving a lift on Friday! 🙂

    Like

    • J. Christopher Dunn January 24, 2014 / 11:45 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Rebecca! Happy to lift your Friday to a whole new level.

      Like

  2. Don Holbrook January 25, 2014 / 11:46 am

    Great tips and certainly brought a smile to my face! Thank you!

    Like

  3. Moe Rock January 27, 2014 / 1:18 pm

    The ham sandwich made me laugh… and want a ham sandwich!

    Like

  4. John Saunders January 30, 2014 / 7:58 am

    Very good list! Glad to see we all do these things time to time. The one that made me laugh the most, as it happened to me very recently, listening to AC/DC as well as pounding 3 cups of coffee, and within the hour ‘trying’ to record a daily ski report. Five or six times to get that recording done right!

    Like

    • J. Christopher Dunn January 30, 2014 / 11:10 am

      Oh, yeah… the coffee thing. Not only does it dehydrate me but, like you, winds me up.

      Like

  5. Shane Watkins January 31, 2014 / 9:18 am

    Tis a bummer to record an award worthy session only to find out no sound was captured. Headphones are useful to verify that my audio gear is in record mode and not playback.

    I have done this so many times in my life its unimaginable. My little running joke has always been, “the best takes are never heard”. Cheers mate!! 🙂

    Like

    • J. Christopher Dunn January 31, 2014 / 10:56 am

      Yes… after 30-minutes of an audiobook session and finding that to be the case, is a heartbreaker. I know I’m not alone and you’re the proof. 🙂

      Thanks for checking out my blog!

      Like

  6. Michelle February 2, 2014 / 1:29 pm

    You forgot: Listen, listen, listen to yourself!! I say this because only yesterday on a final runthrough before uploading, I realized I had read “she crossed her arms on the desk” as “she crossed her eyes on the desk.” I’m sure we could start a sub-thread of Best Bloopers; anyone?

    Like

    • J. Christopher Dunn February 3, 2014 / 12:02 pm

      Yes. Being over confident about one’s abilities is often an ingredient for an interesting conversation with a client. I’ve done it at least once. Read – Edit – Proof. Thanks for stopping by, Michelle!

      Like

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