How were your Holidays? Mine were a little less hectic than I expected which had its merits on one hand and some disappointments on the other.
We had what we call up
here in Boston a “Wicked Stahm (Storm)” a couple of weeks before
Christmas. I had taken that week off to use up the remainder of some
vacation before the end of the year. We were invited to a couple of
Christmas parties, but couldn’t make them because it basically snowed
for 3 days straight.
Ann and I shoveled a few times and then stayed in and watched DVD’s of our favorite TV shows—”Buffy The Vampire Slayer” for Ann and “The Sopranos” for me. I absolutely love that show and have all the seasons on DVD.
I also spent some time writing some letters about my new Audio Interview Program and organizing our home office.
had a lot of clutter around and I’m pleased to say that as I am writing
this Newsletter to you, we have 3 recycle bins placed next to the snow
bank at the end of my driveway just LOADED with paper, boxes and more
that will no longer be occupying my space… and be disposed of in an
environmentally friendly way.
We also caught the tummy bug that’s been going around so we had to cut short our visits with family over Christmas and New Years, which was a real bummer. My birthday is a couple of days before Christmas and I basically spent it in bed. Fortunately, it wasn’t a head-cold, so I’m pleased to say I was able to do the voice session I had for EMC Corp. that day.
I haven’t had a cold in 3 years and I can’t afford to get that kind of sick.
This all leads to a question I get asked all the time from voice talent: “How do you stay healthy or get rid of a cold quickly?”
the subject of this month’s tip pulled directly from my Exclusive Voice
Over Training Manual that I use with my In Studio and Tele-Coaching
Voice Over Students.
I hope you find it helpful. Stay healthy!
If you’re in Voice Over and use your voice to earn money and entertain people, taking care of it should be your number one priority. I’ve lost out on voice gigs and had to skip auditions due to colds and laryngitis. As a voice talent, nothing is more frustrating. Who knows the lost opportunity as a result of not having a chance at being cast for a part?
The best thing you can do for your voice is to drink plenty of water. Keeping hydrated is critical to keeping your voice in good working order. Try to stay away from drinks with a lot of sugar in them as it coats the vocal folds and they have to work just a little harder. This extra effort is multiplied over the course of a day and your voice can tire out more quickly. Also minimize your intake of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, as they can dehydrate you.
Some say you need to have an intolerance for dairy to have it affect you, but I have found that milk, cream and other dairy products increase and thicken mucous. I find it’s best to minimize my intake of these items at least a few hours before a voice session.
You should also get plenty of rest. Tension and fatigue can be heard in the voice. Over the course of the day we naturally get tense in response to various events and activities. Even mundane tasks add tension throughout the day. This tension is felt throughout the body, your neck and shoulders. It affects your ability to breathe and translates into tension in your vocal folds affecting the quality and pitch of your voice. Relaxation exercises will help with this.
Before I share my tips on preventing colds, I need to prevent a dumb lawsuit by saying I am NOT a doctor. I am a Voice Actor and producer. These are things I do to prevent and shorten colds. I am NOT giving medical advise. I am sharing what I do with you. If you are under the care of a doctor for any condition, please consult them prior to taking anything that may adversely impact your health or condition.
Having said that, here are some things I do to minimize my risk of getting sick. As I mentioned before I drink plenty of water. I probably drink about 2 and a half liters a day. I also get sufficient rest and exercise fairly regularly. I don’t drink any coffee or caffeine of any kind. I stay away from soda but I drink carbonated water like it’s going out of style.
I wash my hands regularly.
People don’t think about where their hands have been when they shake
hands with you. I remember showing up for a voice session during the
crew’s lunch break and one of the engineers was eating his lunch. As I
was being introduced to him he put down his sandwich and licked the
tips of about 3 or 4 of his fingers and stuck out his hand to shake
mine. I can remember the dialogue playing inside my head, “Oh my God,
he’s just licked his fingers and now I’m going to have to shake those
hands. How am I going to get out of this?” I pretty much said “Aw,
don’t get up. I’m interrupting your lunch. Nice to meet you.” It worked.
I really try to make a habit of not touching my face with my hands, or eating without washing my hands first. If I have to rub my eyes I avoid using my fingers and try to use the back of my hand or forearm. I always open bathroom doors with a paper towel in my hand and will usually head straight to the restroom or a sink to wash my hands after I’ve shaken hands with several people. Also wash your hands after tying your shoes. Just think about what those laces and shoes have been tromping through all day.
If you’re traveling, wipe down the telephone and remote control for the TV with a alcohol-wipe, or other similar product. They’re never cleaned by hotel staff and they’re covered with germs. I never put a phone receiver directly against my mouth or chin. I also frequently wipe down my computer keyboard and mouse if I know others have been using it.
You may think I’m a bit paranoid, but I don’t need the hassle of getting sick. It puts me out of business for about a week!
You should consult your doctor or other care-giver before taking any medication, but other things I do to minimize my risk of getting a cold is to take a multi-vitamin, a B-Complex vitamin and vitamin C. I also take a Zinc lozenge at the first sign of a sniffle and have found them to be most effective in keeping colds away.
I have a special package of materials that I made exclusively available only to my hardcopy newsletter recipients. But now that I have my blog up and running again, I’m going to offer it to you too.
The offer was included in the December 2008 issue. If you’re at all interested in jump-starting your voice over career in 2009, I’ve put together 3 incredible packages loaded with information about Voice Overs.
One includes an hour consult with me.
Another includes a fantastic bundle of audio CD’s where I’ve interviewed agents, nationally recognized voice talent, a videogame voice over casting director and the owner of a Moving Media Production company.
These CD’s are L-O-A-D-E-D with so much useful information, you’ll want to keep listening to them over and over.
Finally, I’ve put together a Combo pack where you can get both of these terrific offers at an unbelievable price.
If you are at all interested, I urge you to take action now as this offer will expire at midnight on January 31st, 2009.
Here’s a link to learn more:
Have you ever recorded a voice track and it sounded terrific, only to have it lose some of its “punch” after you added music and sound effects? You shouldn’t always just reach for the volume control to make one track louder or softer. There are ways to make it “POP!” and sound great. Who wants to learn more about it?
I had a voice session for a video game yesterday. It’s probably the 10th or so session that I’ve done for various video games. They’re a lot of fun. One of the surprising things that I’ve found, at least with the games that I’ve worked on is that the performance is very physically demanding. You’re by yourself in a soundbooth with people directing you in your headphones.
You need to be able to act as if the character you’re interacting with is there with you. Also there can be pages and pages of dialogue for these characters.
If you are performing a character with an accent you need to maintain consistency with the characters voice throughout the dialogue and you need it to sound as fresh at the end as it was at the beginning of the session. This is takes a lot of practice.
Yesterday’s session was one of the few times I really felt I was in “The Zone” with this. I really felt good about how well the session went for this particular character that I’ve been working on for close to a year now. (These games take a long time to develop).
Also, some of the lines are expressing anger, or strong emotion. Expressing those emotions is more than just yelling, or sounding angry. Think about how you physically feel when you really get angry. You need to somehow put yourself in that place and pour it out through your character… and then you need to be able to do several takes of it. You’ll hear things like this in your headphones….
(”click” Yeah… John, really good emotion… just like that, but back off the mic a couple of inches ‘cuz we’re overmodulating a bit. Also raise the pitch a bit. We don’t want him to sound “dark and angry” just angry. Couple more like that and we’ll go on to the next line. ‘Kay? “click” )
(”click” Great!… now do a couple more like that, but a little slower… just to give us some options. Cool. “click” )
I’m not complaining. This is how these things go. They are fun, but they can take something out of you.
I could go on, but I need to get a couple of things finished up here.
The Sales Department is going to kill me for saying this, but….
This series of articles will provide you with a few tips for crafting your message when you are using radio to promote your business. Radio can be very effective when trying to reach your market. It can make your phone ring like mad if done properly and it can leave you with a bad taste in your mouth if done poorly and without an understanding of how it works.
In this first article I’ll spend some time discussing the importance of keeping the listener in mind when crafting your commercial and how doing so, builds the foundation for effective radio advertising.
How Does Radio Advertising Work?
When I sit down with a new client of our radio station I try to get an idea about their business and what they want to accomplish with their ad. I also want to know who they’re targeting with their product or service.
The next question I ask frequently generates an uncomfortable silence and some nervous twitching from both the client and salesperson.
“What was the last commercial you heard on the radio today?”
“Huh?” (Picture a perplexed face and a mind racing to remember ANY ad.)
Nine times out of ten they can’t remember. At this point they may be thinking, “What did I just get myself into? This is going to be a waste of money.”
The salesperson is thinking something like, “Thanks, John. You are going to kill this deal for me.”
Then I ask a more focused question. I pick out a particular product or service and ask them to name a company who provides it.
A very successful business in my area is Jordan’s Furniture. If you live anywhere near Boston, you know about Jordan’s Furniture. The owners of Jordan’s are two brothers who built their business from scratch and they are on the radio and television consistently.
The question I pose goes something like, “If I asked you to tell me where you could buy a new sofa, what would you say?” More often than not their answer is “Jordan’s” or one of Jordan’s competitors.
This exchange demonstrates that advertising does indeed work. Everyone relaxes. More importantly, it shows the client HOW radio advertising works.
From the client’s point of view their ad is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing on the air. This is understandable. They’re paying for it. Clients want to know the spot times so they know when to listen for their ad. They want copies of it to play at home and at the office. If they’re relatively new to radio they are excited by the possibilities. They should be. It IS exciting. The problem is the client forgets HOW people listen to the radio.
Asking the client “What was the last commercial you heard on the radio today?” forces the client to put themselves in the ears of a listener and not an advertiser. Do YOU listen to the radio for the commercials? The answer is most likely, no.
In my next message I’ll discuss the importance of focusing your message and making it clear to the listener.
John Melley is the Production Director for Boston’s award winning Mix 98-5 (WBMX). His commercials and voice have been heard in commercials across the country. John is known for creating effective radio commercials that sell for the station and its clients. He’s also known for the great character voices he uses in commercials, promotions and announcements. John’s family ran a retail business for many years and he has first hand knowledge of what it takes to run a business. He applies that knowledge to developing commercials for clients. For more information and to contact John visit http://www.JohnMelley.com.
John Melley 2005 - 2007. All Rights Reserved.
Here’s an interesting idea you can use to resurrect a client that you haven’t heard from in a while.
Send them a note, or an email saying “You’re sorry you haven’t kept in touch with them.”
Below is an example of an email I sent last year to a client I hadn’t done any work for in over 3 years!
This was a client who would previously contact me only twice a year and then they just stopped. I would reach out to them from time to time to see if we could resume producing the messages, but nothing ever really came of it until I tried this little gem.
SUBJECT: Sorry I Haven’t Been in Touch….
I wanted to apologize for not getting in touch with you sooner about updating ___’s Messages On Hold. I know we discussed it briefly during the party for Bridgette late last month, but I have been so busy I just let it slip.
Anyway, I’ve had a little down time and thought I would send you a quick message to see where we stood on the updates. The next couple of weeks are good for me, but I’m going to be out of town early next month and want to put the project into my schedule as soon as possible.
I’ll talk to you soon, and thanks!
You must be reading my mind. I’ve been meaning to get these things updated. They’re really sounding old, but it’s tough to find the time to get you new message scripts….
Let me know what we need to do and how much it will cost and I’ll get back to you soon.
What Happened Next?
I solved her lack of time problem. I told Roxanne I would write the scripts myself, if she just provided me with her usual press releases and other information sources she regularly distributed. All she needed to do was put me on the email list and I would pull pieces of information and put the scripts together.
I also recommended a schedule of 12 updates for the year. And I doubled the price of what I had charged them before per set of messages. I let her pre-pay the whole year in advance and offered her a small bookkeeping discount for doing so.
She said she would get 5 updates for the year and would pre-pay for the year and take the bookkeeping discount.
Fine. I had just increased the number of messages I produced for them from Zero to Five (In previous years I had produced 2 sets a year, at most) and doubled the revenue for each set of messages – a little less when you factor in the small bookkeeping discount.
I could do THAT again.
Why Did This Work?
There are a lot of things going on in this communication and how I crafted my offer.
By my saying I was “Sorry I hadn’t been in touch,” it took away any feelings of guilt she may have had about not contacting me. It shifted all the responsibility for any lack of communication away from her, so she didn’t have to avoid my emails, or other forms of contact. (It’s not your fault. Anytime you can say that to a client or prospect, you make them feel better.)
It opened the door so we could solve the problems we had. She needed new messages. I wanted her back as a regular customer and at a price I was happy with.
There are other things going on here as well, like creating a sense of urgency through my limited schedule. I also positioned myself with my offer – my price being a key component of that positioning (remember – I doubled it.)
And I offered the concept of “Money at a discount” through the bookkeeping allowance. Most importantly, I developed an opportunity to conduct more business on a more regular basis, by developing a schedule for the messages.
All these components add up to a successful series of transactions and all of these concepts/ideas/strategies are what I cover regularly in My “Renegade Voice Over Marketing Newsletter.”
Well, here it is, my very first “blog” posting. Technically, I guess it’s really my second. Wordpress put the first one up for me automatically.
I must admit I am joining this new form of communication with more than a little resistance. Some would say I am going into it “kicking and screaming.”
I’ve been told it’s going to revolutionize the way I communicate with current clients and with people who are interested in learning more about what I do as a Voice Talent. My question has always been “How?”
People have explained it to me in various ways, but I still don’t “get it.”
Getting the Wordpress software up and running on my website has been a bit of a challenge. I wanted to do it myself so I would know what’s involved – have a little “backstory” on my own blog, if you will.
What a pain. Next time, I’m hiring someone to do this for me.
Anyway, several people whose opinion I respect have told me I should start a “blog” and I am reading a lot more about them, so I am venturing forth. As I said to a colleague of mine: “I’m open to being pleasantly surprised by the experience.” Having said that, I hope you all will pleasantly surprise me and post something up here as well.
I’ll be putting stuff up here on a fairly regular basis to keep you informed about what’s going on in my Voice Over World. I also hope to share some insight on the projects I’m working on to the extent possible.
If you have any thoughts, comments, suggestions or questions about what I’m doing or topics you’d like me to explore, please fire away. I’ll do my best to answer as many as possible.