Written by: Tony Agent 009
I like people. As far back as I can remember, I enjoyed people. I think my spirit animal is probably a labrador. I’m just happy being in a group, and always looking to play (crotch smelling is optional). Not all people enjoy a group, I get that. But if you’re in business for yourself, especially in the finicky world of voiceover, you have to be somewhat of a people-person. Now that doesn’t mean you should slobber all over them (metaphorically), but you should remember we all are in this together.
I enjoy making a connection with people. That connection can be anywhere, at a coffee shop, getting my car inspected, on a train, or even (dun dun dunnnnnn) on the phone with a customer service rep. Oh come on. Who doesn’t love to wait on hold and finally get through to someone to help you? Eh? Let’s see it! Raise those smashed phones!
I recently had to call my cable company to fix the DVR. I’m pretty tech savvy but there was a wizard or crystal out of alignment and I was all out of potion to fix it. During the call, I was greeted by a rep, who you could tell was in her “I’m a representative” voice. We all know that voice. It’s robotic, stale, void of emotion, and layered with words like “satisfactory” and “account summary”. It’s not her fault, but I was in a playful mood and wanted to make a connection. While we were waiting for the box to boot back up, I asked a simply question, “How are you today?.” She was taken back and then with the natural warmth in her voice it seems to have in her everyday life, she said “Wonderful. That was so nice of you to ask.” We chatted for a few minutes while the system came back online and it ended up being a very enjoyable experience. At the end she asked if I would take a survey on her. Normally I would just pass that stuff by, however this time it was worth it. She got all “highly satisfied” (more robot terms).
Now you might be saying “Ya but Tony you had to initiate that conversation. I give them money every month and she should just do that”. Ok if you really think that, then I’m sorry to say…you’re the problem here. Remember we are all people. How difficult is it to have a one sided conversation if the other person isn’t willing to participate? Engage with people. Try it out. It will make you real, honest, and open to others. It’s not someone else’s job to engage. It’s everyone’s job.
When it comes to voice talent, we sometimes take the role of that customer service person. We are on an island, waiting for someone to hire us, and give direction. We forget how to engage with the client, and enjoy the process. Now I know we can’t always do this, since a lot of voice work has a “I NEEDED THIS A WEEK AGO!” theme, but take those opportunities when you can. Be a person. Your client’s are people too.
I recently booked a gig for a cabinet company. The script was pretty straight forward, with no real pizazz, but it wasn’t that kind of project. The director was with me via a phone patch so I started asking open ended questions about the project, their client, and his company. Once that happened, what was seemingly a straight-forward project, turned into a real connection. The conversation flipped to how the industry has changed and mutual experiences. We even enjoyed talking about “those days” of taping reels together (I’m not that old but we all had to learn). I made a connection and the project turned out wonderfully. Sometimes trying to be the best professional voice over talent means connecting with people, and not just with the copy.
Now will someone please throw the tennis ball so I can go get it!!!