Voice Over Education Blog

April 2015

Should you remove some telemarketers from your list? How to identify scripts you might want no part of - PART TWO


NOTE: This is the second post in a two-part article. Click here to read part one!

“This is Rachel at Cardholder Services” or “Bob from Home Security.” Don’t you just love jumping out of the shower or leaving the dinner table to answer calls like that? The recordings may have been innocently voiced years ago, but due to changes in phone technology, the illegal use of such come-ons has mushroomed in the past several years. Maybe there are only a few companies or individuals behind these billions of calls, but clearly they have spawned imitators, and we wouldn’t be surprised if some naive legitimate companies figure, “Hey, let’s try this ourselves.”

Last week we gave background on this subject. Now here are some questions to ask if you are offered what might be a telephony script.

Some robocalling is legal, depending on the type of call, type of caller, type of recipient, and so on.

When the rules are followed, telemarketing is an honorable and even valuable practice. But if you have qualms about your voice being possibly unappreciated by consumers, these yellow flags might be at least reason to ask some preliminary questions ...

What do the watchdogs say? As standard procedure whenever you’re concerned about a prospective client’s reputation, check for actions against them on the FTC.gov website, the BBB, and other state and local consumer protection agencies.

Is it a “broadcast” phone script? That is, does the script speak to a random listener , with no hint of an existing relationship? For example, if it starts, “Attention, seniors ...” or “Are you a business owner?” you might conclude that it’s not directed to a specific customer with whom the caller has an existing relationship, or even knows much about, if anything.

Who voices illegal robocalls? Should you remove certain telemarketers from your list? - PART ONE


NOTE: This is the first post in a two-part article. Click here for part two!

Since September 2009, it has been illegal for a telemarketer to make a pre-recorded sales call to a consumer unless the telemarketer has the consumer’s prior written authorization to do so – regardless of whether the consumer has registered on the Federal Do Not Call list.

Yet, as you may be painfully aware, such robocalls continue to be made by the billions. The Federal and state governments vigorously enforce the laws and lay traps for violators, but the pace has hardly slowed.

It affects you as a consumer. How does it affect you as potential telephony talent?

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This article summarizes an evolving situation. We believe it to be correct, but it is not legal advice, the laws and regulations may have changed, and there are additional details not mentioned here. This article focuses on calls made to personal landline numbers in the United States. There are other requirements for calls to other types of numbers (e.g. business or mobile), or to other countries, or manually dialed calls.

Also, this article mentions some of the many legitimate reasons for robocalling. We assume the vast majority of legitimate businesses adhere to the extensive requirements, and do not intentionally call illegally. (The law provides them a measure of “safe harbor” in case of inadvertent error, oversight or misunderstanding.) The sheer volume of flagrantly illegal calls and scams are what reflect badly on this channel, and it’s those “marketers” whom talent might try to avoid.

Who voices illegal robocalls? Should you remove certain telemarketers from your list? - PART ONE


NOTE: This is the first post in a two-part article. Click here for part two!

Since September 2009, it has been illegal for a telemarketer to make a pre-recorded sales call to a consumer unless the telemarketer has the consumer’s prior written authorization to do so – regardless of whether the consumer has registered on the Federal Do Not Call list.

Yet, as you may be painfully aware, such robocalls continue to be made by the billions. The Federal and state governments vigorously enforce the laws and lay traps for violators, but the pace has hardly slowed.

It affects you as a consumer. How does it affect you as potential telephony talent?

------------------------------------

This article summarizes an evolving situation. We believe it to be correct, but it is not legal advice, the laws and regulations may have changed, and there are additional details not mentioned here. This article focuses on calls made to personal landline numbers in the United States. There are other requirements for calls to other types of numbers (e.g. business or mobile), or to other countries, or manually dialed calls.

Also, this article mentions some of the many legitimate reasons for robocalling. We assume the vast majority of legitimate businesses adhere to the extensive requirements, and do not intentionally call illegally. (The law provides them a measure of “safe harbor” in case of inadvertent error, oversight or misunderstanding.) The sheer volume of flagrantly illegal calls and scams are what reflect badly on this channel, and it’s those “marketers” whom talent might try to avoid.

Yes, and ... How an improv attitude helps in many ways


If you’ve had any improv training at all, you recognize the title, “Yes, and ...” as improvisational theater’s primary principle. That is, when one actor improvises a line, the other actor cannot reject that premise and switch to one of their own. The other actor must accept the thought, and build on it. In that way an improv routine progresses and grows. It’s also a great way to approach many other situations we encounter in Voice Over.

Many voice actors think only of situations where improv is used overtly. However, “improv” isn’t itself a VO genre. In voice over, improv skills are often behind the scene, making it a part of virtually all VO genres, to some extent or another.

The most obvious application of improvisation experience is when you and a voice acting partner are, in fact, improvising. It can be a big factor in Animation. It’s sometimes acceptable in Commercials. But there’s no time for it in most Video Games production, it can be embarrassing or problematic in copy approved by a committee or legal department, and it’s understandably verboten in Audiobooks and Medical Narration.

As the great and influential voice talent Pat Fraley has pointed out, “improvisation is the most misused, and at the same time underused, voice over skill of them all.” You’re misusing improvisation if you change a script on a whim, or if the only reason you “improvise” non-verbal utterances (such as, “hmmmm” or “uh”) when reading a script (whether it’s for one actor or more) is to compensate for not sounding “natural” as you speak the actual words. Most scripts have often gone through an elaborate and strict approval process, and since you are not the script-writing team that signed off on it, neither you nor the director may have the liberty to change it.

Do you make these 13 common mistakes in voice over? These tips will help you correct them.


Have you been following Edge Studio’s Weekly Script Recording Contest over the years? It’s a great way to get feedback on a simulated audition, and each week Edge Studio picks three winners who receive free educational opportunities. In the process, we summarize “why some people didn’t win” – some of those reasons are mistakes made by even long-experienced working pros. It’s all in a positive vibe, with Edge Studio Voice Over Tips to help put the kybosh on each of those all-too-common errors. Here are some Tips from contests past...

Note: We’ve done some light editing to make these tips clear out of context.

GENRE: Educational Narration (history)

Although most narrations don’t need dramatics, there are times in many scripts where there’s a bit of humor, or irony, or some other type of line that calls for a bit of “comment” in your voice. This was one of them, as indicated by the use of the informal interjection, “well.” Some people missed this opportunity – they just weren’t quite entertaining enough. Edge Studio Voice Over Tip: If you value every word, you’ll more easily spot such situations and easily handle them. We don’t mean to ham it up. Just say the words – each of them – as if each is there for a reason. Because in good writing, each is. (And if it’s not-so-good writing, your job is to make it better ... not by changing the words, but by how you read them.)

GENRE: Fiction Audiobook

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