Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Using the right words

When people first find out that I speak more than one language, I often get asked "Don't you get confused?"

It's as if the fact that I speak two languages is a hardship. Actually, quite the opposite is true. It's a gift. Having a second vocabulary opens up the world to me, it doesn't shrink it.

I admit, when I was a kid, I did sometimes mix my languages.
Notice I didn't say mix UP.
I combined them not, because I was confused, but because I was choosing just the right word that fit the meaning I wanted to convey. And sometimes that word happened to be in a different language than the one I started my sentence in!
Luckily, my parents pretty quickly made it clear: "Finish your sentence in the same language you started it in!" It was another exercise in finding the right word in the particular language I was speaking in.

Now, some languages are just more precise in certain concepts than others are. Take the Inuit who have over 200 words for our word "snow," describing all its different facets.

So what does this have to do with Voice Over?
A lot actually.
As a voice over artist, I work with words every day.
All types of words: silly words, sales words, medical words, technical words. They all convey a meaning.

My job is to bring that meaning to life.
As voice talent, we're not just reading, we're telling a story, and to do that well you need the right words.

This is not as obvious as it seems, especially when you're dealing with a script that was translated incorrectly.

I often record bilingual scripts - one version of the script in English, the second in French. Sometimes the translations leave something to be desired.

So here's my advise: If you need to have a script translated, use a professional translator.

Do not use "Sophie in HR" who happens speak French. Or "Maria in A/R" who happens to speak Spanish.

I speak French fluently, but when it comes to translations, if a client asks me for that service, I provide it by working closely with a professional translator to make sure that my client gets the best and most accurate script possible.

Yes, it makes my voicing of the script a lot easier.
But, more importantly, using the right words will make my client look and sound good to their clients. And happy clients are always a good thing!

Monday, March 17, 2008

100+ VO Resources!

As a Voice Talent, I'm always on the lookout for information and resources.

Well, the great gang at just made that search a whole lot easier!

They just published a list of 100+ Industry Resources for Voice Over Talent, and I'm honored to be listed in their blog section!

Check it out. Bookmark the page! It's worth it!

My thanks to Stephanie Ciccarelli at for this great list!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Voice Talent: What business are you in?

Think about that question for a minute.

It's not so obvious.
When I was "behind the glass" as an engineer/producer, the voice talent that I loved to work with the most were the ones that made my job easier!

They had talent, they knew what to do, and they were pleasant to work with.
They helped me do my job well, by doing their job well.
Now that I'm in front of the mic, I realize that my job is to make my client's job easier!

My friend, and amazing voice talent Bob Souer, has just written a great post about what business we are really in a voice talent. It's a must read!


Saturday, March 8, 2008

VO Cold Remedies - Take 3

My friend, and talented Voice Over artist Peter Drew posted yet more remedies that voice talent can use to help prevent or shorten the span of a cold.

Hope this helps!

"As we all know, there is still no cure for the common cold, but there are a
few things you can try to reduce a cold's severity.

  • At the first sign of a cold, try Oregacillin from Physician's Strength. The
    active ingredient has been isolated from Greek oregano oil, which has been
    used for thousands of years to fight infections. A Johns Hopkins study showed
    that the active ingredient in Oregacillin kills viruses better than
    pharmaceutical antivirals. I use it and it does seem to prevent a cold from
    getting worse and cuts the time a cold hangs around.

  • Try nasal irrigation and zinc. For more info on nasal irrigation, visit this
    site: From what
    I've heard, zinc lozenges are much less effective than zinc ointment that is
    put inside the nostrils.

  • Gargle with salt water. Recent research indicates that much of a cold's
    infection actually resides in your throat. Gargling with salt water can help
    clear out that infection. Over the counter cold products and decongestants
    dry up mucous production, which can actually prolong a cold because there is
    no mucous to carry away the infection and products of the body's immune
    response to the cold.

  • If you're prone to catching colds, then a good defense is necessary. Penn
    Gilette of Penn and Teller fame says, since he went on the road with their
    act years ago, he's become a fanatical hand washer. He avoids shaking hands
    with people if he can and if he does shake hands with someone, he's very
    careful not to touch his face until he can wash his hands. He admits it
    sounds obsessive, but he can't afford a cold that will prevent him from

  • On hand washing, stay away from the antibacterial hand sanitizers you can
    pick up at the supermarket or drug store. Most of them contain triclosan, an
    antibacterial that has been linked to creating more resistant bacteria, and
    they don't have enough alcohol to kill viruses, which actually cause a cold.
    The only hand sanitizers that kill enough bacteria and viruses to be of
    value are the ones containing 60 percent or more of alcohol. The best way to
    sanitize hands is simple soap and water. Work up a good lather and wash rub
    your hands for at least 20 seconds and then rinse. Clean under your
    fingernails while washing, too."

Thanks Peter!

Remember...these are just suggestions, go see your doctor if you feel you're getting sicker than usual. You know your body best!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The rain in Spain.....

If you've ever seen the movie "My Fair Lady" you remember the articulation exercise "The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain."

As voice talent, we often "talk" a fine line between over and under-articulation.

Marc Cashman wrote a wonderful article that addresses some of those pesky little "bridge" words that sometimes fall victim to voice over mush-mouth!

Thanks to John Florian at VoiceOverXtra for posting this great article!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

My "Elevator Demo"

We've all heard of the "Elevator Speech," right? Being able to tell someone what you do/sell yourself in :30 or less, basically in the time it takes to ride an elevator.

Well, when it comes to Voice Over, demos are already pretty short, and getting shorter. Anything much longer than :60 these days is considered "too long!" And people say that if you don't grab the listener in the first :10, they'll stop listening and go on to the next talent.

So my friend Philip Banks threw out a challenge to those of us on the VO-BB:

"Sell your voice in a 10 second demo.
Your sounds, your experience,
your reads, your personality in 10 seconds."

WOW! It was a challenge, and I had fun putting mine together.

Here is my contribution:

Think about it. If you truly only had :10 to showcase what you do....could you? Give it a shot & let me know, I'd love to hear it!