5 things NOT to say to a voice actor

Are you looking to hire a voice talent? Are you the friend or family member or random temporary acquaintance of a voice actress? Or do you want to BE a voiceover artist? Here are a few ways NOT to start a conversation with them…

ONE: “Did you… forget… to get dressed today?”

Nope. I work from home. In a small booth, surrounded by padding and soft furnishings; sometimes actual blankets are involved. Why should I get dressed? It’s just like being in bed. Except for the microphones, I guess most beds don’t have those – unless… no, I’m not that kind of actor!

I’m comfy, okay?

When I’m booked for a studio voiceover session I definitely wear nice clothes, I promise.

TWO: “Do your ‘Happy Christmas’ voice!”

This one was actually said to me by a relative while I was giving out some Christmas cards. It was kinda perplexing. Because… what IS a Happy Christmas voice? Isn’t that just… my voice? Saying Happy Christmas? Or do you think I’m Santa Claus now and I should throw in a little jolly low-pitch ho-ho-ho-ing?

Hang on, I could totally do that. But not on demand! Sorry, Uncle David.

THREE: “This is a really easy job, it’ll only take a few minutes.”

Um… so?

Guess what, it’s not that easy. I’ve just had a bit of practice. I mean, I suppose it was pretty easy to take acting lessons for years, and attend voiceover workshops half a dozen times, and practice, well, all the time… and save up the money to pay for the coaching and equipment and website and friends – woah, wait – I mean… you know what I mean. And I suppose doing hundreds of auditions every month is a walk in the park, and contacting clients and agents and media companies is totally simple, but, come ON, not eating milk chocolate or ice cream, to keep my voice healthy, IS HARD.

So no, you ain’t getting out of paying me properly for my voice over work. 😊

FOUR: “Do it about twice as fast, but without sounding rushed.”

Dude. How about you just drive from Canberra to Sydney in an hour, without rushing?

Voice actors are good at speaking, sure, but that doesn’t mean we’re magicians. Or Time Lords. I’m pretty sure even the Doctor would struggle to fit that 120-word script into the 30 seconds you’re after. Sounds like a fun challenge!

Bonus tips: don’t say “make it cheerful but very serious”, or “breathy and sultry, but not at all sexual”. (If you do, though… we’ll try. I promise we’ll try! Interpreting client directions is fun… in a maddening, Alice in Wonderland kind of way….)

FIVE: “Where did you get that job? Can I have their contact details?”

Woah. No.

Okay, I get that you’d also like to be in touch with that person – maybe you’d like to work for them too or maybe you have some other interest in their work, cool. But have you ever heard of a business giving out their clients’ contact information? Like… how much do you like it when a business you’ve dealt with hands out YOUR contact information?

I’ve heard of fellow voice actors being asked for their entire client contact list. Please don’t do this. This is bad business. And obviously it applies to any businessperson, not just voiceover artists.

I’m afraid you’re going to have to do your own research, just like all of us have had to when starting out, and build yourself up a network. You can do it! It takes time but it’s not impossible. Google is your friend. Social Media is your friend. Networking groups are fab – just be friendly, be kind, remember we’re all humans doing our thing and making our way. 😊

Finally – one thing you SHOULD say to a voice actor:

“Thank you.”

That’s it. Easy.

Anyone you do business with, in fact – anyone who provides you a service or gives you their time or helps you out. Who doesn’t like to hear a friendly “thank you” as much as possible?

Go forth, my lovelies, and say kind, helpful, sensible, professional things to the voice actors in your life.

Images by @happy_arucik, @brachostudio and @linesacros via Twenty20

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