The quality of your auditions when recording from home is as important as your performance. In fact, it’s never mattered more than it does today.
Since COVID, production demands now require every voice talent to not only be well-trained and prepared to deliver their best at a moment’s notice, but we’re also assuming the quality of your auditions recorded from home will be the quality of the audio of the final recording.
Beyond that, there are a few common mistakes to avoid to improve and increase your booking potential.
1. To slate or not to slate. Determining whether or not you should include a slate (stating your name) will vary with every audition. Traditionally, a slate is done by stating your name at the top of the audition.
Some voiceover auditions ask you to include your slate at the end of your performance, or ‘post slate’. And others require you not slate at all.
Assume that you will include a slate, unless you’re specifically instructed otherwise: “no slate”.
Your slate should match the volume of your performance as well as the “feel”, or emotional tone of the piece. So, if the audition requires a somber, more serious approach from you, your slate should mirror the same drama, as well as a comparable volume, pitch, speed, personality and the mood of the audition. Your slate should match the tone of your read.
(NOTE: Never ‘cookie-cutter’ your slate by ‘pre-recording’ and repurposing the same slate on every audition you deliver. It’s lazy and inappropriate considering one size does NOT fit all.)
2. Follow the directions. Every project has its own specific requirements, which is why they are referred to as the ‘specs’.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but its surprising how many talent neglect to read the details the agent painstakingly included in the email defining what’s needed and wanted from them with regard to the audition in question. Or, if you don’t double-check your work before you submit, you might overlook an all-too-simple instruction that can completely alter the outcome of your audition.
While your agents may or may not listen to every audition you submit, it’s really NOT up to them to proof your work. That’s YOUR job. Besides, your agent has enough to do! Should they discover you missed something important, be sure to correct the issue and re-record to resubmit your audition as soon as possible. And pay better attention on future auditions!
Never expect anyone to proof your work, or ‘tell you how to say it’. If you’re hired, that’s likely in large part because you made some clever (but appropriate) decisions with your performance. How well you follow directions, pay attention to details, including how quickly you turnaround your auditions, speaks volumes to how much your agents will come to rely on you. THAT’S how you make yourself valuable.
You’re either building your reputation with every audition, or you’re undermining yourself. It’s just a fact. And not solely with the producers most likely to hire us, but with our talent agents who’s professional reputation is so closely tethered to our own. Talent agents grant you access to work you aren’t likely to see anywhere else, and they’re your advocate—provided you give them reason to be. That’s a vital alliance you need to reinforce simply by following instructions when it’s offered.
3. Submit multiple takes with each audition, unless only one is requested. We often overlook a key opportunity: most auditions are 25 seconds long or less, which means you have the chance to offer two viable delivery options to the client on the same MP3.
Considering our job as voice actors is essentially to offer a handful of appropriate, creative options, within the context of the project, with every take, rather than attempt to craft a single-solitary delivery, we are expected to continually create with every take.
In fact, if the audition you’re voicing is only about 25 seconds long or less, it’s generally expected you’ll offer three distinct takes on the same slate/MP3. This is referred to as a ‘3-in-a-row’, aka ‘3-wild’, or an ‘a-b-c’.
Each take on a ‘3-in-a-row’ should be distinctly different in your expression however your volume, pitch and speed should remain relatively similar from one take to the next.
(NOTE: If you’re only happy with 2 takes out of the 3, then simply submit the 2 takes you’re most happy with on the same slate/MP3.)
4. Do your homework. Have you heard of the product or service? Not sure how to pronounce it, or any of the other terms used in the text you’re expected to sound like an expert discussing? Look them up! And not strictly on Merriam-Webster.com (m-w.com), but on iSpot.TV or YouTube, as well.
Determine if this audition part of an on-going, familiar campaign? Is this a dramatic departure from anything they’ve done before? How is this spot similar to those? How is it similar/different to campaigns for other products or services?
Style and context matters. Let it elevate your performance to take as much guess work out of the audition process as possible that you “get it”. A little perfunctory study lets you demonstrate you understand you’re role in forwarding the concepts.
5. Submit your auditions well before they are due. Pay attention to WHEN the audition is due. Is it a quick turnaround and due in a couple hours? Or do the specs say you have till the end of the week? Be sure to submit your audition well in advance of when it’s due. Make a habit of turning around your auditions within an hour or so of receiving it. The more your agents come to rely on you, the more they will likely include you in far more projects—even when the project might be something of stretch for you!
Auditions are opportunities. It’s YOUR job to make the most of them. Clients typically cast the project well before the designated deadline originally given. Keep in mind, their objective is to get the project produced, approved and shipped… and move on! That should be your objective as well.
6. Take the time to proof your work BEFORE submitting. This is how you instill confidence. Avoid submitting last minute, hurried, thrown together, poorly recorded/edited auditions while rationalizing, “Oh, well, it’s better than nothing”. (I beg to differ.) Take the time to consistently proof and re-do whatever needs re-doing, if necessary. Commit to delivering your very best. No one can do that for you but YOU.
7. Don’t submit a dull, flat read! It’s very likely you’ll find yourself auditioning for 3-10 auditions a day. Each audition requires an approach specific unto itself, rather than a routine based almost exclusively on muscle memory rather than creativity.
It’s imperative you continually challenge your read to avoid approaching every script with the same ‘robotic’ delivery that’s all too easy to fall in to. It doesn’t take long to create and establish a reputation. The opposite is also true. Therefore, mastering your ability to self-direct demands time and attention regardless of your experience and skill level.
If your diction is sloppy, or your performance sounds like an after thought, you will be wasting everyone’s time, including your own. Don’t be surprised if your agents gradually evaporate along with the opportunities they represent. Carefully craft each audition. Make a habit out of excellence.
Keep in mind: energy is interest. If you are interested you are interesting. You’re paid to have a pulse. Remain creative!
Copyright © 2021 by Kate McClanaghan. All Rights Reserved.
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