Congratulations you've booked your first gig! Now, how is all of this going to work? Well, here are some tips and considerations to help your first session run smoothly.
Be Specific About Availability
When coordinating a session date and time, be specific about your availability. If you answer you're available “whenever", then that means anytime which is unlikely the case. It's best to be specific such as "Monday 9am-12pm, and Tuesday 3am-5pm". This reduces the need for back and forth emails and additional communication for you and your client. Even stating "Wednesday afternoon" is nebulous and will cause additional work for your client or agent to determine just what you mean. Always be in service to your client. This is really rule number one and following it will reflect well on you as a professional.
Early is On Time, On Time is Late... and Late is Unacceptable.
Always arrive early. You might have to sign some paperwork such as a release, go over the script, or simply collect yourself before your session. It’s better to calmly sit in the lobby for a bit than be thrown into the booth the second you arrive. Your heavy breathing from having been walking 60 seconds before entering the booth will not make for a great read. If the studio is located in the heart of a bustling city, leave yourself time to find parking, walk from several blocks away, and actually find the door to the studio.
No Script Preparation
There's a good chance you will not have a script before the session. This is another reason to arrive early. You might even have the opportunity to read through the script while you wait for your session to begin. Develop your cold-reading abilities and techniques to aid you in fumbling the least throughout your first read. Sometimes speed-whispering the script through if you only have a few minutes can drastically improve your understanding of the script's structure.
Do Not Silence your Cell Phone... TURN IT OFF!
There's very little reason to take a call or check your email when in session. Don't just silence your cell phone, turn it off to reduce any possible distraction or potential noise. If you can't turn it off, promptly set it to Airplane mode AND "Do Not Disturb". Just because your mom can't text you with airplane mode enabled doesn't mean your reminder to "stop buying hard boiled eggs at gas stations" won't pop up mid-session. Don't look foolish with a ringing phone while in session.
Don't get handsy
When you enter the booth, remember that if it isn’t meant for you to touch it, DO NOT TOUCH IT. Most things are “up for grabs” in the booth, but never, EVER, adjust the microphone or microphone stand, or dare touch or unplug any of the cables (I can't imagine a scenario where you would feel inclined to do this). If you break it, you buy it.
And if you can’t see the script because the microphone is in the way, ask the engineer to adjust its positioning or move the copy stand to create clear sight lines. Often however, the mic sits in your site line as that's where it works best. So what do you do? Sometimes you may have to read the script with eyes angled to the right the whole time, but no one said voiceover was the most physically comfortable job in the world. Alternatively, lift the copy up with arms out stretched, creating an active stance. This will also help keep energy up.
No Room for Apologies!
Well, mostly. If you’re a decent person (or Canadian) you might be inclined to apologize when receiving direction from the producer. Do. Not. Apologize. It looks incredibly unprofessional. If you’re receiving direction, it has far less to do with dwelling on what you did wrong, and so much more to do with what you’re going to want to do next.
Ask for Line Readings
If you can’t seem to understand the direction of a line or aren't quite clicking with it, ask for a line reading. Being able to mimic or model your read after a line-reading from the producer or client is an essential skill in VO. If you can’t seem to grasp the nuances of the writer or producer’s direction, you can at least rely on your keen sense of mimicry.
When the session is wrapping up, it can’t hurt to do a little personable promotion at the end.
Nothing weird or socially off, but just a “let me know if you ever need anything in the future!” can help you stick in the mind of someone who may be casting another role with your name on it in the future.
And it ain't even thanksgiving! But really, don’t forget to thank your client, producer, and engineer for a great session. In a professional way, not in a “THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!” kind of way.
Tip: This is also a great time to ask if you can get a copy of the final spot!
Keep it Professional
Our parting advice would be to remember to always act professional, personable, and accommodating throughout the entire session. Do not speak ill of the script, the writer, the illustrator, the client, the producers, or anyone else involved in any way - you may just find your foot so far in your mouth that you can use your head as a new shoe or worse, booking less gigs because you've developed a bad reputation. Keep it professional.