Ten Lies Voice Overs Tell

Pants on fireHow far would you go to get ahead in this game we call the voiceover market place?

Would you betray your pacifist principles and record a promotional video for land mines?

Would you flirt with the casting director?

Would you badmouth a colleague in the hopes of improving your odds?

As soon as money is involved, people are prepared to sell their dignity and self-respect to the highest bidder, and it’s Survival of the Slickest and every man for himself. Take no prisoners. After all, the economy sucks and it ain’t getting better any time soon. If it’s a choice between you and me, my friend, it better be me.

In an attempt to break into the business or simply stay afloat, people even start sinning against the Ninth Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness. What do they tell you in this business?

If you can’t make it, just fake it!

That’s why the almighty Internet is inundated with pretenders, posers, anonymous commentators and self-styled experts. In this day and age where the latest is the greatest, nobody bothers to fact-check anymore. It’s the ideal opportunity to be whoever you say you are. No questions asked. It’s in black and white. That means it’s reliable, right?

Now, don’t believe for one second that the people in our community are holier than the Pope. They are not. Some of them are spinning a world wide web of lies. Of course they don’t call it that. They see it as innocent embellishments of the truth. The means justify the ends. Meanwhile, they are walking around with their pants on fire.

Here’s my Top 10 of the most common lies people tell to get ahead as a voice talent:

1. Experience

Lie: “With years of experience under her belt, Carla can handle almost any project.”
Truth: Carla has been at it for five months; part-time, that is.

2. Training & Coaching

Lie: “Roger has studied with some of the world’s best coaches.”
Truth: He took an introductory course at the local community college.

3. Clients

Lie: “John has recorded voice-overs for some of the biggest names in business.”
Truth: John wishes he had recorded voice-overs for some of the biggest names in business.

4. Equipment

Lie: “Peter exclusively uses his trusted Neumann U87, arguably the best known and most widely used studio microphone in the world.”
Truth: Peter doesn’t even know how to correctly pronounce the name Neumann. He is the proud owner of a second-hand Chinese condenser he got off eBay for $65.

5. Home studio

Lie: “Heather records her voiceovers in her professional studio, guaranteeing you the highest audio quality possible.”
Truth: “Heather hides inside a bedroom closet and she has no idea why this mattress foam won’t keep the noise out. She wonders: Should I have used egg crates instead?”

6. Demos

Lie: It sounds like Thomas really voiced those national campaigns, doesn’t it?
Truth: The scripts were stolen from auditions that never worked out. An audio engineer friend helped him with the music.

7a. Languages and accents

Lie: “Jerome speaks Dutch and is available for your eLearning projects.”
Truth: Jerome was born, raised and educated in Flanders (Belgium) and speaks Flemish. Dutch and Flemish are just as related and just as different as American and British English. Substitute Dutch and Flemish for other languages and accents to expose other actors.

7b. Native speakers

Lie: “Maria was born and raised in Germany and speaks ‘Hochdeutsch’ or Standard German.”
Truth: Maria moved to the U.S. when she was seventeen and thirty years later, she stills lives in Dallas. Ever heard a German with a Texas twang?

8. Testimonials

Lie: “Jennifer was a delight to work with. Our company would not hesitate to hire her again.”
Truth: Jennifer never worked for “that company” and she is the author of this endorsement.

9. Head shots

Lie: We see a young, smiling face, staring confidently into the camera.
Truth: After ten years, Harry doesn’t look like his old headshot anymore. He’s become bitter and it shows. He also gained twenty pounds.

10. Believing that you won’t get caught

You see, people with real credentials have real experience and a real portfolio. They don’t have to hide behind vague descriptions and false advertising. The truth will always come out and when it does, it will damage a career that never was and probably never will be.

SPOTTING THE ROTTEN APPLE

You don’t have to be a detective to find the fakers. Liars usually do a great job exposing themselves. I was emailing one of my colleagues the other day, and he shared the following story with me:

“I’ve read your blogs regarding people that want to be a voiceover talent with interest. I have some ideas on people that are “posing” as voiceover talent and how to spot them immediately.

For example: a young lady recently posted on a LinkedIn forum complaining that she wasn’t being hired via sites like voices.com and how obviously the system was flawed, and that was the reason she wasn’t getting work.

I visited her website to find that (through the placement of national logos for Burger King and Nissan) she had implicated that she’d done voiceover work for national companies.

When I listened to her demo it was apparent that she had nowhere near the skill level of a national voice talent.

Furthermore – on her website there was a mention of a client that she claimed as her client, when in fact, it had been MY client for more than four years. A quick check with producers led me to find that this person had never worked with that company.

In short, she wasn’t getting work because she sucked as a “talent”. And yet, she couldn’t hear this, and was angry with the world because she wasn’t getting work.

What are these people thinking? Do they really believe they can fool an experienced producer or Creative Service Director?”

ACTORS ARE LIARS

People in our profession have a strange relationship with the truth. We get paid to pretend. The most convincing liars get the nicest paychecks, an Oscar and a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

However, true talent, trust and integrity are the cornerstones of a successful career.

Trust must be earned.

True talent and integrity can never be faked.

Ain’t that the truth?

Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

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About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a Dutch-English voice-over pro, coach, and writer. His blog is one of the most widely read and influential blogs in the industry. Paul is also the author of "Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs."

by Paul Strikwerda in Articles, Career, Promotion, Social Media

7 Responses to Ten Lies Voice Overs Tell

  1. Dave Johnston

    We often hear how really small our voiceover community is,that being said there really is no room for lies. Really enjoyed this one!!

    [Reply]

  2. DL Stickler

    I have gotten my feet slightly damp seeking VO Work and even went into a Pro Studio and did some readings.

    I rehearsed some, but when I got into the Studio; I realized that My Readings and rehearsals were not even worthy of the Engineer’s Efforts or the 70 Bucks I spent.

    I got the Disc home and started breaking it down to post the demos.

    As I was listening to them, I thought… “Geesh, I really suck at this”.

    At that point, I had to admit that if I were to seriously pursue VO Work on any level; I needed to start taking it seriously and invest in training, coaching, and equipment.

    Funny thing is, that when I first started thinking I wanted to do VO; I think it was because I partially believed it would be easy.
    Plug in a Mic, do a couple of reads, tweak it in my Free Copy of Audacity and Viola; more work then I can handle.

    Thanks for being realistic with people. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thank you for being real about your current abilities and limitations. The thing is: the best people in the businesses make it sound easy. That doesn’t mean it is.

    When you’re just starting out, no one expects you to be brilliant. It takes time and practice to get there. When you’re learning is not the time to cut demos. Get good at what you’re studying, and only then you’re ready to post samples of your work.

    Good luck and have fun!

    [Reply]

  3. Mary Morgan

    I had someone tell me they’ve voiced National commercials for top brands and then demand I give them referrals. I’ve already heard unpleasant things about her in general in the community as both a person and as a talent. When I started VO I knew a woman who claimed to be a mega Jack of all Trades. She said she coached American Idol finalists, the Dixie Chicks, voiced hundreds of spots for national campaigns and big video games. But when you try to find her on IMDb she’s not even mentioned. When I ask people about her they do 1-2 of the following: laugh, frown, grimace, sigh and shake their heads, or get bug eyed and say “stay away from her”.
    It turns out she was a respected VO 20 years ago and now a raging alcoholic who only makes a living teaching VO classes with lots of outdated materials and then telling people who want to learn more that they’re ready for a demo and she’ll produce it for only half the cost of what LA demo producers charge (her exact words). What irks me the most is that people still fall for her false claims and believe she’ll help them skyrocket their voice over career after a few lessons and a poorly produced demo. So when others ask me about her I flat out tell them to run.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I think I know whom you are talking about… In this day and age of fake news and lazy readers who fail to fact check, it’s easy to fool the willfully ignorant.

    [Reply]

  4. Ted Mcaleer

    Stupid people lie and then since the lie worked on all their friends (who don’t know anything) they try it in the pro forums… Trust me (us) if I can tell your demo is homemade, so can everyone else.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Very true, Ted!

    [Reply]

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