Your Role As Voice Talent: In The Booth

You’re in the booth and ready to go. On the other side of the glass is an engineer and perhaps a few people involved in the project.

You are the talent. And, in my experience, there are a few things to think about when the door shuts and you’re ready to go.

All Phones And Anything Else Digital Off
Yeah, you’re busy. You might have other things going on and emails on the way. But you are there for a reason. To voice a project.

I’ve been in sessions where phones have rung (as producer, not talent). There was even one where the talent had the nerve to actually take a call while we were in session. It was such bad form that I was almost impressed and let him take it.

If your producers and/or client needs to take a call, let them. Ordinarily this isn’t an issue, but if the agency is calling with something critical, let ’em take it. Don’t sweat it. And don’t show them that you may be put off. It’s part of the gig, kids.

Stay Focused And Shut It All Out
One of the things that I really like about being in a nice, soundproofed room is the feeling of complete and utter stillness. There is this delicious moment before the engineer or client pops on in the headphones where it is the most beautifully deafening silence.

In that nanosecond, I lock my focus in. It’s a pure state — even though it could be 2 seconds — that is cleansing.

From there, I am ready to take it on.

Try it next time you’re in a booth. It’s awesome. Trust me.

Wait Your Turn
You are there to be directed. Be polite. Take the full feedback. Don’t interrupt.

I’m only telling you this because in my younger, brash days, I did all of this once.

Once.

Let The Rapport Come Naturally
The client isn’t your friend out of the gate. But, when you start getting a good rapport and rhythm going, you can start feeling out more interaction. Start slow.

If all goes well (and 99.9% of the time it should), you will have established a good working relationship in a very compressed amount of time.

And the work will reflect that.

Ask For Permission
Don’t just jump on in on doing a retake. Don’t grab the bull by the horns and say, “I’m doing another one” out of the gate. If you’ve established a good rapport with the client, then sure, you can give that a go.

But, at the beginning, ask for permission to do a retake. Be polite.

Trust me, this will go a long way for you.

Your Input Is Valuable (When They Ask)
Most of us have been doing this for awhile and we can sometimes help junior or inexperienced people out of some pretty hairy situations. I had one junior producer who was so scared, he could barely get any direction to me. It was clear that he was struggling and he shot me a “please help me” look. I asked him if he wanted my input.

After a visible sigh of relief and a nod, I gave him my 2 cents.

And we ended up with a great spot together.

You’re A Hired Gun — And A Partner
Over the years, I have found that clients who trust your judgement (again, 99.9% of the time) end up getting the best work. When you, as voice talent, go into it by feeling pride of ownership of what’s been put in front of you, you will most likely find that your client will be very happy with you and the end product.

They will also learn that, yes, you are actually a human being and that your contribution to the work is vital.

And it underscores an important point. Yes, we as voice talent can be considered a commodity.

But you were chosen for a reason and most clients bid you adieu with big smiles on their faces because you did a very good job not just for them, but with them as well.

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