Taken from experiences working in studios and at home, Jim Kennelly of Realtime Casting offers six different types of voiceover clients
Every client is different and as voice talents, or as a casting director, we need to overlook their eccentric tendencies, and learn how to relate successfully with them. I hope this guide will help you identify your producers’ needs, and increase your success as a voice talent.
6. The Unconscious
The Unconscious clients never cease to astound you with their lack of knowledge about how the voiceover industry works. In their defense, they are usually part of an older generation. While they can be kind and patient, they bring with them a distinctive set of tasks. You cannot send them an audio file, because they do not know how to (or want to) download it. They use their favorite “classic” movie scene as an example for your read from a movie you have never seen before.
How to Help Them? Be patient with the Unconscious. They want to be reassured that they are being treated fairly. Do not be tempted to exploit them and overcharge for your work, especially if you value your reputation. Try to use terms and examples that they can relate to and do not bother with the long acronyms or technical terms that will leave you with a confused and concerned client.
Help them feel secure. They may not understand the details of your voice work, but they do understand professional efforts. It may take time, but they can be a complete joy to work with. Translation: Repeat business.
5. The Know-It-All
You can easily recognize a Know-It-All client because they apparently know exactly how to do the voiceover, yet for some reason they hired you. They will interrupt you during your reads, and not budge from their own direction.
How to Help Them? The Know-It-All’s wishes are clear: They want control and respect. You can easily win their trust with some basic psychology. If your client wants control, and demands respect, then let them have it. This type of client can be a nightmare if they don’t get their way, so use these strategies to win their trust:
- Give them a compliment. A Know-It-All will be much more inclined to accept your ideas if their input is appreciated.
- Pick your battles. Do not fight over every little issue. Save your strength for when critical moments occur.
- But remember, ultimately if a client doesn’t respect you or your work, I recommend looking around for a new client who will.
4. The Scrooge
How to Help Them? The Scrooge just wants the voiceover to fit their timing, sound good, and for you to read all the words on the page. Talk to them about value and quality all you want. They care about the bottom line. They just want the job complete with the lowest total cost. This client can actually be great to work for, if and only if, you are looking for a quick payday. Time is valuable as a voice talent. This client just wants the job done, so that’s exactly what you need to do.
3. The Racer
Many new producers are Racers because most are being forced to meet a deadline due to the speed technology offers. Racers are often very busy people. They frequently think if a voice recording can get done in two hours, you should be able to get it done in one hour.
How to Help Them? For a Racer, their goal is to get projects done fast. This type of producer is hardworking, so they expect the talents they hire to be the same way. When dealing with a Racer, proceed with caution. Do NOT get caught in a deal that leaves you stuck with an over-demanding assignment. Guard your deadlines. You will be held accountable to the time-frames agreed upon, so be realistic with them. When working on a voiceover for a Racer, follow these basic rules of productivity:
- Stay focused
- Cut out distractions
- Take breaks
- Stay organized
- Manage time and energy
2. The Navigator
The Navigator is not allowed to make decisions. There are many advertising and branding clients who work under a strict chain of command, meaning they need everyone’s agreement before making choices. The Navigator usually has little clue as to the final client needs and are rarely prepared for the questions you have to ask. They just have the directions.
How to Help Them? What matters is what their superiors want. At the end of the day, if you help the Navigator please the ‘team upstairs’, you will have a very happy client. When working for a Navigator, ask questions in bulk. Individual questions get lost in emails. The best way to save yourself time and stress is to compile a list of questions you will need answered and submit them all at once. Prepare for the holdup. Ask questions ahead of time so you are set for the next phase of your voiceover.
1. The Ambassador
The Ambassador is my favorite client. The Ambassador hired you because they recognize what you are doing, and expect you to complete your voice work with skill and professionalism. They do NOT want to be bothered with details. Their view is, “You are the creative. Show me what you do best.”
How to Help Them? They simply want a solid finished recording completed within a reasonable amount of time. The voice work you are doing for them is usually just a piece in a much bigger plan. When working with an Ambassador, respect their time. When interacting with them, come ready and keep it short. Be direct and honest. Ambassadors dislike excuses. They love people who take initiative. They are not interested in how long it took you, or what went wrong along the way. They just want to know if the job is done, and if the voiceover is good to go.
Being able to identify the type of producer you are dealing with will prepare you for your voice recording session. The more you know about your producer, the better able you will be to adjust your read as necessary!