As you ascend the ranks of the voice-over world and find yourself auditioning for increasingly prestigious opportunities, the qualifications and skill differences between you and everyone else auditioning for the same work begins to narrow. At each new rung of the proverbial ladder, the competition becomes more fierce, and it takes a different approach to stand out amongst the crowd.
Recently I had the opportunity to sit on the other side of the table in a casting capacity. This experience was incredibly eye-opening to me, and showed me that performance chops are simply one of many factors which make a memorable audition. Conversations with others who regularly cast confirm this idea.
So what else is there? I’d like to share three simple suggestions you may not have thought about which can help your audition to stick.
Following The Leader
It should go without saying that instructions are in place for a reason, but it would blow your mind to see just how many professional voice actors don’t follow instructions when answering a casting call. And it’s not always the fine print that causes us to stumble – often it’s the blatant, in-your-face directions.
For example:if a casting call asks for commercial demos, should you submit an audiobook reel? If a client is looking for a female voice, should you audition if you’re a male actor? If ISDN is required for a remote tracking session but you don’t have it or have access to a studio that does, should you still give it a whirl? These questions may seem facetious, but I promise they aren’t.
Let’s say you paid attention to the big details and did fit all of the primary criteria. Congratulations! But before you send that email, did you check and see what file type the client wanted? What about how to name the file? Do they want you to slate, or not? How many takes do they expect? Do they have questions about specific availability that need to be answered?
“The devil is in the details,” as they say. Phenomenal voice artist or not, if your audition is rife with major or minor submission errors the picture you’re painting for your prospective client is that you either can’t, or don’t care to, follow directions. Show them that you will be easy to work with; that you can be trusted. They will remember this.
How does that sound?
Another seemingly obvious suggestion is to make sure that your audio sounds great. Again, you would be surprised at just how many professional voice actors submit audition files featuring poor quality sound – files with a strong hiss in the background, lots of plosives, extreme mouth noise, dogs barking – or recordings which are either extremely quiet or peaking.
This confused me at first. Some of the audio I have received while casting came from voice actors who I knew had superb studio builds. So what gives? After speaking with others who cast often, one thought is that some voice actors don’t listen back to their audio before sending it off, allowing one-time issues during a recording session to undermine the hard work they’ve done (kids knocking on your studio door? Anyone? Just me?).
If this is true for you, you may be costing yourself work. Take the time to fine-tune your studio for the greatest audio output within your power, and always listen to your audition in full before submitting it. By doing so, you are showing the client that your recordings will take little to no effort to use on their side of things. As before, stand out by showing them you’ll be easy to work with. Many clients would rather take great audio with a good performance than a great performance with glaring audio issues.
Why hello there!
My final suggestion is to be a real person when you submit your auditions. Yes, you are running a business. But it’s a business of and for people. When you are working with a client, you aren’t working with Jane or John Doe. You aren’t working with a faceless entity. You’re working with an individual or team of individuals who are genuine human beings, each with a life of their own.
The human connection can help you win a client; and if it doesn’t help you win the first job, it will certainly help you to keep that relationship going after you secure the gig. Whenever you submit an audition which gives you a chance to directly address your client person-to-person, do so. Not every avenue allows this, but those that do must be capitalized on.
You don’t have to try and squeeze in a full bio or speed-date your prospect during the submission process. A simple “How are things over in [client’s city]?” or “This project was a lot of fun to audition for! The script reminds me of [insert personal connection]” can go a long way in breaking the hum-drum of having to listen to 25, 50 or even 100+ auditions for a project. Be genuine, but say something. Stand out as someone the client would enjoy working with.
While these suggestions won’t win you every gig, they can be the tipping point in certain situations and I hope that they will be as helpful to you as they have been to me. The big takeaway? At the end of the day business relationships aren’t just about your product. Be memorable by being attentive, being a professional, and being yourself. Oh, and kill it on the mic too.
Looking for more voice-over audition tips? Check out this article by Chelsea Vincent on the Such A Voice blog!