What Makes You Stand Out As A Voice Over, by Kate McClanaghan

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At first blush, you might think voiceover is all about the ability to parrot famous stars, create cartoony characters at a moment’s notice, and authentically mimic any accent under the sun. And while these skills are certainly useful to us as actors and might be asked of us from time to time, it may surprise you to learn that they’re not the primary skills necessary to keep you steadily employed as a voice talent.

It’s ironic most of us spend a solid six years or more training to “become someone else” as actors, and the primary thing asked of us is to just be ourselves.

Or maybe you thought being a voiceover was solely dependent on having an exceptionally mellifluous voice that cooed each commercial, narration and announcement.

Well, it wouldn’t hurt, but to be honest, there are at least 7 things that make you stand out as a voiceover.

#1. The ability to be yourself. You being you is the most desirable thing you can be. You’re the only one of YOU! Bring it! Everything on the page should sound like it just occurred to you, rather than the client putting words in your mouth. Certainly your ability to assume a believable point-of-view that may be a dramatic departure from your own is the job of every professional actor. Most often with all affectations, accents, dialects, and heightened realities aside.

#2. Proper training. You’re expected to consistently deliver dynamic choices. If you’re not working your performance muscle, it’s going to atrophy, which means you won’t be ready at a moment’s notice. Training consists of proper conditioning. It’s imperative you maintain a steady diet of supportive, honest, challenging training. Work with people that are better than you. A LOT better than you. People you admire and trust. You must learn to self-direct.  This is a keystone to our training at SOUND ADVICE, because it’s unlikely you’ll get much direction at all, especially considering so many voiceover auditions are done from home on your own. Besides, no one can direct you if you can’t direct yourself.

#3. The ability to offer options. You’re capable of a limitless number of amazing takes. If you sound like a broken record on every project, no amount of direction will be able to chip you out of marble. No one is interested in hiring a robot. You’re paid to have a pulse! Master Improvisation to build your ability to think on your feet and stoke your imagination.

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What To Do When You’re Under The Weather, By Kate McClanaghan, www.voiceoverinfo.com

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As a voice talent, as an actor, maintaining your health can be a real challenge, especially when a variety of stronger than average cold and flu strains are circulating. We’re all susceptible to catching something that can put your voice and overall health at risk for up to two months or more after a simple trip to the local Supermarket, or an afternoon at the movie theatre. If you’re in contact with the public, you’re exposed.

If you feel you’re coming down with something, please don’t hesitate to see your doctor to ensure you’re not putting others at risk. We often think we have a cold, when in fact we have the flu. Whether you have a cold or the flu you’re generally only contagious within the first 24 to 48 hours. Here’s a link to help you distinguish the difference between the two ailments: http://goo.gl/GnWi08. A cold generally lasts only a week or two, while the flu can lasts 6 to 8 weeks or more.

Voice actors are most concerned with losing their voice by coming down with laryngitis, which seldom, if ever, is contagious. However, if your laryngitis is coupled with bronchitis, it can be contagious, so again-see your doctor as soon as possible to spare others, to save your voice, and to shorten the duration of your illness.

If you do have the flu, a dry, unproductive cough typically accompanies the chills, body aches, and a fever that turns on and off a few days at a time. The flu comes on very quickly and without warning. You can probably narrow it down to the very moment you got sick, but a cold can be a bit more gradual.

Beyond getting more rest, managing your symptoms with natural remedies can help avert added downtime that may keep you from bookings and performing at your best. I’ve found the following natural remedies to be particularly successful in lessen the discomfort of colds, allergies, and the flu alike.

Emergen-C is half the solution I refer to as my “flu bomb.” If you find yourself coming down with something, empty your favorite flavor Emergen-C (I prefer Tropical or Raspberry) and an orange Airborne into the same glass. Add water, hot or cold. Allow the ingredients to dissolve completely, then drink the entire contents. It tastes great and, if you caught the illness within the first 48 hours of your initial symptoms, you could very well prevent coming down with a cold. (At the very least, the duration of whatever is trying to take over will run its course in a fraction of the time you might ever expect.)

Follow-up is key. Be sure to repeat this “flu bomb” formula at least once more before you go to bed, and continue this regimen twice a day for two to three days. Then follow with one “flu bomb” a day for the remainder of a solid week-EVEN if you feel better. This tends to work well for allergies as well in many people.

If you find you have a cough, as simple as it sounds, at least 3 to 4 tablespoons of honey in a mug of hot water suppresses and soothes what ails you. Add a slice of lemon as you see fit. (Personally, I found the honey alone did the most good for me, but to each his own.)

Zinc dries you up when you need it, while vitamin C has the opposite effect. C allows your sinuses to open up and self-moisturize when your eyes, throat, and sinuses are too dry. If your eyes and/or nose are runny, try 50 to 60 mgs of zinc. In most (minor) cases, this will help you to get through an hour-long recording session, for example, without incident. Nothing shy of miraculous here. Again, if you have allergies, zinc can handle a world of woes.

In a nutshell, if you honestly don’t feel well, and you’re convinced you won’t be able to recreate what you did from your initial audition, or your auditions aren’t up to your standard professional abilities, then do the responsible thing, and book out with your agents. If you start to feel under the weather, pay close attention to your symptoms and see a doctor. Take care of yourself, get lots of rest, and do your best to stay healthy. It’s the professional thing to do.

Copyright © 2016 by Kate McClanaghan, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

Twitter Truths, by Dave Courvoisier

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Still don’t get Twitter?  Lotsa people don’t.  You’re not alone.

Sometimes days go by and I don’t post or even read posts…and that’s probably bad policy. Twitter should not be ignored, so don’t be frustrated by this social network.  Next to Facebook, it is the most influential social network to see and be seen.

Don’t take my word for it…search Gary Vaynerchuk in YouTube, and listen to ANY of his motivational talks about social media (just be ready for plenty of profanity).  He’ll make you a believer. Not only does it help raise your profile on the internet, but Twitter is actually a great prospecting tool.

That’s right.  With Twitter, you can find new clients. The formula is not hard, you just have to bend Twitter to YOUR rules.

The key is smart searching with the right keywords, then engaging prospects with your usual charming self.

Here’s the generally-accepted 3-fold formula:

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Agents – Part 1: The low-down, by Rachel Fulginiti

Today kicks off the first in a new three part series, inspired by one of my readers (thank you Britt Dyer!). Over the next several weeks I’ll be talking about agents: what they do, how to get one and how to work with one once you’re in partnership. It’s a subject that can often feel mysterious or frustrating. Sometimes it’s a challenging part of getting “to the next level” in your career, but it doesn’t have to be confusing!

What exactly does an Agent do? Well, the short and sweet is: they negotiate contracts. Legend has it, there was once a day when they sought out budding young talent with potential and cultivated it…but that doesn’t happen much anymore. Basically, you and your agent are part of a team. You come to the table a completely formed product, and then your agent (hopefully) helps to sell it. Ideally, they find lots of opportunities for you, they talk you up, push for you and go to bat for you, and when you book jobs, they get you the very best deal they can, which will be mutually beneficial for both of you, as they earn 10% of what you make. With union jobs, that 10% is typically added to the top of your rate, so the agent’s cut doesn’t actually take away from what you’re making on the gig.

Wait, how are Agents different from Managers? Technically, to call themselves an agent (at least in the state of California), they have to have a license, adhere to certain guidelines and practices, and they can only take 10%. There are no requirements for someone calling themselves a “Manager”. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some great managers out there, and typically they get more involved in the day to day career of the talent (or at least, they used to), but beware, there are tons of unscrupulous ones out there, as well. Most managers take between 15- 20%. A lot of times they will add an additional percentage onto the client’s bill and still (also) take 15-20% out of your cut. That being said, if they are getting you work that you wouldn’t have had otherwise, then it’s probably still worth it.

So, do I need one?

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9 Insider Tips for Creating a Killer Explainer Video, by Andrew Follett

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Are you considering investing in an explainer video this year? You know; the videos that explain your product or service in 60-90 seconds?

Explainer videos are a great way to engage potential customers and familiarize them with your business. The hard part is to get them right.

Since an explainer video may be smack dab on your homepage, and the first thing your visitors experience, it’s essential to nail it the first time. Here are 9 insider tips for creating a killer explainer video that clearly describes your business and drives more sales.

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20 Examples of Fabulous Explainer Videos, by Lisa Isbell @googleeeyes

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Feel intimidated by the notion of creating an explainer video? There’s no need to be — they just represent another excellent way to get your content out to your target audience. Besides the really big brands that we are all familiar with, a lot of lesser-known companies and even small startups are using them.

Even if you believe your product isn’t “cool” enough to become a cute, cuddly explainer video, someone out there who has a problem that can be solved by what you have to offer would likely see it in a much different light. Sometimes a quick, easy, explanation is just what someone needs to help clearly understand how your product solves a problem.

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Top 10 eLearning Content Development Companies For 2015, by Christopher Pappas

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As “top” can mean many things, we created this year’s list by following the same process that we used for the top 10 eLearning content development companies for 2014 list. Taking a closer look at the companies that are leading the line when it comes to eLearning, we selected the top 10 based on the following 7 criteria:

  1. eLearning Content Development Quality. 
  2. eLearning Expertise. 
  3. eLearning Industry Innovation. 
  4. eLearning Company’s Economical Growth Potential. 
  5. Customer Retention. 
  6. Employee Turnover. 
  7. Company’s Social Responsibility. 

As you can guess, the companies on the following list are the eLearning content development crème de la crème. Don’t hesitate to review their official websites and contact them to know more about how they can help you align your organization’s learning and performance goals with its business objectives. If you are looking for the best eLearning content development companies that create high impact and super engaging and immersive eLearning courses, here you are:

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Why PLAY Matters To Your Performance, by Kate McClanaghan

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As an artist you need to give yourself plenty of room to play. You need room to create and discover, often under time constraints and the pressure to deliver your very best on the fly. At SOUND ADVICE, we refer to this technique as ‘stretching the canvas’.

We call it that simply because far too many talent attempt to ‘ramp up into their performance’ anticipating a longer runway than we are typically given, especially at an audition, where we‘re often given only a single take or two (if we’re given the luxury as voice talent of auditioning in front of those most likely to hire us). By giving yourself a broader playing field right off the bat you’ll more than likely deliver a far more impactful, desirable performance rather than revving up into it and, ultimately, offering only a mere passable take.

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The ‘Conversational’ Voice Over Read: Five Ways To Please Your Clients, by Pam Turow, Voice Actor

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I mean, really, come on.

Can we all just decide what constitutes a conversational v.o. read already, for once and for all?

I’m determined to define this type of read so there are no mistakes, no questions, so it’s 100% clear.

But alas, I fear that it’s not just implausible but completely, thoroughly impossible. Impossible like asking Charlie Sheen to be thoughtful, magnanimous and reflective. Impossible like seeing Lady GaGa on TLN. Because it’s just way too subjective.

Are You Suffering From Mic Fright? by Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

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While listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Radiolab, I discovered an interesting fact.

Before legendary producer Allen Funt created Candid Camera, he experimented with a different show based on the same premise.

It was called The Candid Microphone, and it first aired on June 28th, 1947 on ABC Radio. Funt came up with the idea while producing radio shows for the armed forces at Camp Gruber.

One of the shows he worked on was called “The Gripe Booth.” Funt asked soldiers to come into his studio and talk about things that bothered them. Here’s what he found out.

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