That learning started with a bang, to say the least. It was August 1997. At the time I was Production Manager of WORD-FM in Pittsburgh, PA. My assistant was Darren Eliker, one of the most gifted actors and voice-over talents I’ve had the privilege to know and work with over the years. (Darren replaced me as Production Manager when I was promoted to Program Director in 1998 and he’s been winning awards, and more importantly, helping businesses grow ever since with his brilliant campaigns, voice-overs and directing.)
Back then I was a member of CompuServe, and hung out a fair amount in the Radio forum. In the late summer of 1996 one of the other members posted a note about what an excellent experience he had at the International Radio Creative and Production Summit. Back then Dan O’Day and Dick Orkin jointly presented the Summit.
Based on what I read, I determined that if I possibly could, I would attend the next one. Which leads us back to where we started, August of 1997. Our boss gave his blessing for both Darren and I to attend the Summit, so there we were in Los Angeles, CA.
On the first day, among the various presentations, was a group class on voice-over by Dick Orkin. But with 80 people there, Dick decided to limit his “hands on” work to just 8 of us.
In spite of my lesson from a few years previous, I was still paralyzed with fear about volunteering. Providentially, Dick didn’t ask for volunteers. He asked for those who do voice-overs to raise their hands. So, I did. And he picked me to be one of the 8. Which is where the three questions come from.
After giving us some dialog copy to read with one another, Dick offered these 3 questions as a way to quickly get to the point of our copy:
1. Where am I?
2. Who am I talking to?
3. What do I want from them?
Answer those three questions and you know the Setting, the Audience, and your Motivation.
You may be surprised that “Who am I?” isn’t one of the three questions. I was too. But, the answer to that question is either explicit or implicit in the copy.
When I remember to ask these three questions, I nearly always do a better job of auditioning. Which gets me more work. Because, as you already know, the key to getting work in voice-over is doing lots of auditions, and winning at least a few of them.