I had my first remote directed voice-over recording session this week. I have read that many people work for years without ever doing one, others do them all the time. This being my first, and my personality type being what it is, I was very nervous. If I am being honest, I had been dreading this possibility for quite some time. If truth be told, I have decided many times not to audition for particular jobs because they required remote direction even though I thought I was a good fit.
As the time draws nearer, self-doubt creeps in. What if I stumble when talking to him (I am not the poster child for social grace)? Will he think I’m an idiot? What if I make mistakes while recording? Will I be revealed as an impostor? What if he hates me, my voice, my delivery? What if I can’t do whatever it is he asks me to do? I can imagine the stories he will tell in the office after we are done about the imbecilic, inarticulate poser who wasted his time. Next!
I also wasn’t sure whether we were doing a Zoom meeting or whether he would just listen on the phone as I record. Both were floated as options, but the person directing me didn’t decide which until the session happened. What if my internet service glitched? What if my iPhone earbuds quit working? Where are my earbuds anyway? I can’t find my earbuds! “Honey, do you know where any iPhone earbuds are? No, the ones with the lightning connector!”
A half hour’s mad scrambling produced four pairs of the wrong type, none of the ones I needed and it was almost time to record. I locked myself into my booth knowing the phone option wouldn’t work, so crossed my fingers hoping that he would choose Zoom. Choose Zoom! Choose Zoom! The phone rings. The PHONE rings! Shit, now what do I do? As I reach for the phone to answer, making apologies in my mind, I spot my earbuds sitting next to my microphone stand, right there in front of me. Nerves a jangle and with sweat running down my back, I plug them in and answer.
I am shocked to find the person I speak to sounds nice. In fact, very open and friendly in a genuine sounding way. We talk about his website and mine and exchange mutual compliments. I start to relax a little. He tells me that they auditioned a lot of people, but I was the unanimous choice among their creative group. Encouraged, I relax a little more. We get along really well on a personal level, so I am relieved to have an unexpectedly nice start. I relax further.
I am still nervous however because I had never done a live read with anyone that isn’t my coach or part of training. Without any direction, he asks me to just give the copy a read through to get a feel for where our starting point is. Great. Now I don’t have any idea what he wants and I don’t want to have him react negatively, so the tension starts to crank up again. There isn’t anything else to do but take a deep breath and read it the way I thought it should go. Believe me, I would be grateful if I just got through it without making any huge mistakes. And I did.
Waiting for and fearing the response, there is silence on the other end of the phone for a few moments. In a split second my nerves are twisting, I’m starting to sweat again and the self-doubt is getting louder.
With a slightly surprised tone in his voice he breaks the silence by saying “Oh. Okay. . . that was pretty much perfect. I’m not sure what else we need. Maybe just give me a couple variations to give the client a few choices”. In my mind, my self-doubt is saying “WHAT??! That’s not how this goes! Where is the soul wounding criticism? Where is the emotional carnage? Where is the motivational wreckage?”. As it turned out, he loved my voice and my delivery. I think he liked me as a person also. Surprise!
We concluded our time with further pleasantries and I hung up. I not only did well during the recording but also really enjoyed it. It was fun! All of my nerves, fear, self-doubt, and concern about technology were pointless. My talent, training, and preparation came through for me.
I am not nearly so naïve as to think every remote session will go as well, but I have been assured of one thing. I have nothing to fear. I’m not an idiot (entirely). I am not an impostor.
After all these years it is discouraging to continue to deal with old voices inside my head which try to tear me down, but I can’t seem to not hear them. What I can do is remember times like this recording session that prove the voices wrong.
In my internal debriefing afterward, I realized that I had paid attention to the wrong remote direction. The negative thoughts in my head were the ones trying to control me, to make me fail. Better yet, to even keep me from trying. That particular kind of remote direction I can do without. The other kind of remote direction – the voice at the other end of the phone? Piece of cake.
You had me at cake!! Yeah baby. Sorry – was there something else mentioned? I am kidding. Loved this one. We’re all intimidated, Jon – all of us. No one likes to be told what to do, and these directed sessions can stretch on for hours if you let them. I’m still in one from 1986. Please send food and drink to Booth JA2020.