Live Directed Voiceover Sessions: How Both Client and Voice Actor Can Benefit
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For many voice actors, it’s one of the most dreaded things you can hear from a client: “For this project, how about we hop on a Zoom meeting so I can give you a little direction on the read?”
I remember my first live directed session quite well. Let me start by saying that the client made it very clear in the job posting that a live directed session would be required. But as I submitted my audition for the project, I figured if I do end up landing this job, “we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.” Well, I was selected for the project, and it was now time to cross that bridge.
My contact was a casting director at an ad agency. When we initially connected, he immediately wanted to schedule the session. “How’s Monday morning at 9:00 EST?” Morning sessions are not a problem for me…I usually get my day started at around 4am. “Sounds good!” I said, full of optimism that this shouldn’t be all that hard.
“We’ll have a few of my colleagues on with us, as well as the client, their legal team, Larry from HR, their receptionist, a few more of their people, and some of their people’s people.”
As a voice actor, I’m very comfortable doing my work all by myself, in my little padded room. It doesn’t matter how many takes I have to do to get it right – all the client hears are my best parts, all nicely edited, cleaned up, and ready to go. That’s the way it should be, right? Now you’re saying I have to do it with a live audience??
I figured I could handle reading the script in front of the guy who cast me for the job. But now we’re talking about having an audience of more people than there were at my local dive bar gigs back in the day. On a good night.
The “what ifs” raced through my head all weekend long. Imposter Syndrome kicked in. “What if I keep messing up? What if I can’t even make it through the script? What if I make funny faces while I’m reading it? Will they be talking about me while I’m reading? Wait, they will be muted, right?”
When it finally came time for the meeting, over half the people that were supposed to be on the Zoom weren’t even there. So immediately, half the pressure was off. And those who were there seemed to be just as interested in getting it over with as I was. It turned out they were all really friendly and encouraging people. And when it was time for me to read, something inside me kicked in. My professional instincts took over, and I made it through the first full take, way better than I imagined I could. The client had a couple of minor notes, and a small copy change, so I gave them one more full read.
“Fantastic!” someone said. “Wow, you’re a real pro! I don’t think we’ve ever had one of these go so smoothly. I think we have everything we need. Thanks for your time, AJ!”
And just like that, it was over. We had scheduled the Zoom to be an hour long, but it ended up only taking about 15 minutes total. It turned out that I got myself all worked up for nothing. I felt sweet relief, and a sense of accomplishment. I CRUSHED it!
Since then, I’ve had quite a few more live directed sessions. As you can imagine, they really do get easier every time. That’s not to say that there haven’t been a few that are, shall we say, a bit more challenging. Some clients simply have more specific needs than others…and that’s ok!
But here’s the great thing about live directed voiceover sessions – you know you’re giving your client exactly what they want. Chances are very slim they’ll be reaching out for revisions. It gives you a chance to understand their needs so much better, which makes it easier to deliver an outstanding performance.
Some voice actors dread them. Some even charge extra. I see it as an opportunity to deliver excellent customer service. It’s simple, really. Once you get over your stage fright and forget about your “what ifs,” there’s really no better way to connect with a client, and build a bond with them…which is a big step towards developing a long term business relationship with them.
I offer all of my clients live directed sessions, because it makes both of our lives easier. I’m happy to connect with them however they prefer…whether it be through Source Connect (the industry standard), Zoom, Google Meet, Skype…wherever they are, I am.