My Top 10 Biggest Voiceover Pet Peeves

  1. Announce-y announcers. I hate being yelled at, don’t you? Especially when I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m convinced that endless loop of infomercials playing in the middle of the night on cable are designed to irritate you into staying up. To add insult to injury, they’re poorly produced. And while I don’t begrudge anyone honest work, I do take issue with the poor performance conditioning and lousy production values these “hard sell” deliveries develop into unsuspecting, novice voice talent. There I’ve said it. (I feel better already.)
  2. Please include your last name in your branding logo, web address, email and/or signature. Unless you’re Cher or Madonna, or changing your name so not to be confused with a well-known serial killer, using only your first name followed perhaps by the word ‘voice’, so that not even your Mom knows who you are, will only further seal your anonymity. I know dozens of Daves, Bobs, Susans and Dianes. WHO the heck are you, already? It’s the worst branding ever to be so dodgy and secretive, especially when you’re trying the establish familiarity. The objective from the start is ‘name recognition’. Your actual, full name! It’ll make it easier to look you up online should we care to learn more, and infinitely easier for you to cash the checks when you get paid. No one needs an added speed bump on that road.
  3. Going DIY overboard is a real deal breaker, too. Every small business owner needs to know when to leave it to the professionals. When it comes to voiceover, this means professional training and demo production. And homemade web sites, especially those that can’t be seen or found on mobile devices, consisting of homely graphics that only you like only add to the degree of difficulty when considering you as an addition to the creative team. There’s no excuse for having a massive cheap attack. Cheap is very expensive and can cost you your career. Learn to delegate, or you’ll disintegrate.
  4. Getting cutesy with titles by “naming” your demo distracts rather than elevates your brand. Avoid it.
  5. There are some terms that never sit right with me, such as, “Explainer Videos”, “Sizzles”, and “Spec”. To me they’re all code for “We don’t want to pay you.” To add to that, a “custom-demo” is an audition, not a demo. Again, cheap is very expensive. It can cost the client their reputation, and ultimately yours too if you follow their lead. Stand up for your true worth.
  6. Emphasis is sub-product, but should never be the only tool in your performance toolbox. I was lucky enough to work to with some very lofty commercial producers and Creatives when I was just starting out, and one of the greatest lessons passed on to me was, “If everything has weight, nothing has meaning.” In other words, if the only modification you can offer, from one take to the next is emphasis then everything you say will sound overstated and sell-y. By and large I’ve found that to be true. The point you’re attempting to get across with the text will likely be lost in a bomb blast of over-emphasis. It’s obvious and ultimately repels the listener. Less is most certainly more, especially in commercial work. You’re expected to impart the concept, never sell anything. Undue emphasis is the voiceover equivalent of “indicating” on stage or screen.
  7. Pushing conjunctions and pronouns can also result in a sell-y delivery and are often over used, especially in auditions. If you hope to stand out from the legions of auditions submitted every day, try placing less stress on “YOU” “THEY” “US” “THEM”, as well as, “AND” “OR” “BUT” “IF”… ease off placing so much emphasis on the pronouns and the conjunctions! I’d venture to guess 75-85% of all those auditioning will be hitting those items over the head with a Louisville Slugger—and losing their listener/viewers in the process.
  8. Relying solely on “experience” and side-stepping professional training will ultimately backfire on you. Just like great athletes need a coach, the same is also true of talent. There’s always something valuable to be learned.
  9. Voiceover demos are NOT held to the same criteria as radio “air-check” tapes. Neither is continually changing up your demos. Create well-produced, competitive demo tracks from the start so you don’t have to continually backtrack just to save face.
  10. The world won’t come to you simply because you’re talented, and you have a great demo. You have to go to the world. You may have a Maserati for a voiceover demo, but if you leave it parked in the garage it won’t get you anywhere. Proper marketing and promotion is imperative if you hope to have a career, and ultimately your responsibility.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved.