This is required viewing for anyone who says, “everyone says I have a great voice, so I’d like to do voiceovers.”


'Delightfully Irreverent, Yet Effective' discussion: Fallout from nationwide casting calls or otherwise high-profile gigs, and how to cope.

So when a nationwide job listing that pays low six figures (that you qualify for) pops up, I take interest. Especially when all you have to do is say one acronym.

Sounds good to me.

Now, I have no delusions here. I know that the chance is minuscule…but why not? Michael Jordan says, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” So I do it, engineering a clever little outtake session that I thought might make it stand out from the (what I figured to be) tens of thousands of auditions.

So when the word came down that Dan McKeague, a radio sales manager from Minnesota, had been cast, my first thought was, “thank goodness…a regular guy.” Only after the first rounds of news got circulated did my brain even begin to shape snarky comments. I even made one on Facebook. 

Then I realized that those reactionary statements lack context and tone of voice, two things that are so important in our industry. So, for all anyone knows, that’s my only opinion on the matter. I know that rarely anyone thinks about their words that much, but I certainly do. I was taught a valuable lesson about inside truth and outside perception when it comes to your image, persona, whatever you call it. 

There were some folks who apparently made some scathing, venomous remarks about AFLAC’s casting choice. Hate all you want, those of you who have done so, but here’s a free lesson in perception: Remember, what you type is going to be what any reader perceive of you. WITHOUT CONTEXT. So when you pop up to talk smack about something as awesome as a regular guy getting a national campaign, you’re gonna look like a feminine hygiene product.  

The same crap happened three months ago with the Ted Williams situation. There were haters and cheerleaders-a-plenty then, too. And I hope and pray that we don’t have the same polarizing responses and douchebaggery that followed it. When you don’t contribute to the community, and then come out of the woodwork just to complain or trash others’ good fortune, you sound like Raven, that WWE wrestler back in the day, that always whined, “what about me? What about Raven??” Seriously, come back to planet Earth from planet Look-at-me-look-at-me.

You might have had a bad day, and you were sounding off in frustration. I get it. We all have those kind of days. Just be careful what you say and about whom. Privacy is going the way of the Dodo. You usually have to hear about changes in privacy policies on places like Facebook from friends and media outlets. Transparency is great, as long as it’s working in your favor, right?

You have to be careful about your outside perception. In this case, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck…oh wait. I forgot. You’re talking smack because you aren’t the duck. My mistake.

Please, though. Please remember that there are people out there lurking the message boards, Facebook, Linkedin, and any one of dozens of social media outlets that are reading…reading and never respond to you. People that are making up their minds about whether they want to hire you or not. Whether they want to work with you or not. Whether or not to ignore whatever you say from there on out. 

Here’s how to deal with a situation such as this…especially if you auditioned or plan to ever again. My advice is: manage your expectations.

One, audition like you’re the only one in the world. That will instill confidence that trumps any jitters or “oh-crap-I’m-auditioning-for-a-national-gig” anxiety.

Two, take the Showtime Rotisserie (tm) approach and send it and forget it. Seriously. To dwell on an audition puts it on a pedestal. Now, all of a sudden, it’s the most important thing on Earth and you’ll just die if you don’t get it and OMG I’m gonna have a panic attack…and ugh. You’re back in high school again. *facepalm* Just record, save, and send. Then go do something you love

Three, after you’ve sent it away and calmed down, assume you aren’t going to get it. Really. Number two was about saving your sanity in the short-term. Number three is about saving it in the middle-to-long-term. Now, there are some schools of thought that are exactly opposite of this. They would tell you to be eternal optimists, or to visualize yourself getting the gig, or recognize what a big deal it is. The problem I have with doing that is that your expectations aren’t managed in a way that most people can handle. Now, granted, there are some folks that can handle it that way, and I say more power. But for mere mortals like me, building up that much stock into one event can crush your psyche to the point of…well, venting on Facebook or forums about how much better your audition was. And, now you see the point. 

I worked in sales for five months. It taught me a very valuable lesson for voiceover, and that was conversion rates. On average, a successful salesperson closes between seven and eleven percent (7-11%) of their attempted sales. Warm leads, cold leads, all. As a voiceoverist, when you approach building clientele this way, it’s way easier to set proper expectations about what it is to be successful in this industry. Use that same window of return when it comes to your auditions, and you will save your sanity. If you do thirty auditions in a given period of time, then you should be getting two to four gigs. “OMG that’s all??” Yup. Voiceover is not easy, and maybe that’s the first proper expectation you need to set for yourself. Master that one, and the rest is much easier. Not easy. Easier.

Oh, and just a few observations about the AFLAC gig:

  • Only about 12,500 people auditioned? That’s kind of a surprise to me.

  • Jeff Foxworthy, Richard Lewis, and other names you might recognize auditioned. That’s comforting. Those that didn’t get the job failed in decent company.

  • The online auditions were thirty seconds long. Dan McKeague’s live audition? One minute, thirty-four seconds. That, my friends, is an advantage. Don’t believe me? Check out the CNBC story. The video is there. Thanks to my buddy George Washington III for his blog post that pointed me there.

    So, folks. Another quarter, another VO success story. Congratulations to Dan McKeague, and all the best. May we all manage expectations…then we can all have unexpected success. Because unexpected success is way better than unexpected failure.