“Hi,” the man greeted me smugly, “I’m the early bird.”
His hair was greased back, he wore a nice suit, an expensive watch, and fancy cologne. He extended his hand for me to shake. A smirk was on his face. It seemed that someone else had beat me to the punch.
One rendition of what a smug early bird might look like.
Have you ever quit or gave up on something when someone else made you feel like you ought to?
I like to say that talk is cheap. Opinions are a dime a dozen. And yet, we often give the words and opinions of people we barely know (or don’t know at all) an awful lot of weight.
That is not to say that there isn’t good advice out there; the closest and most dear to us certainly deserve some consideration with their opinions and insight when they weigh in on our situations. They know you - and they actually care.
But too often we let strangers direct and dictate how we should feel about something.
We’ve all heard these phrases:
Sounds like too much work.
It’s probably not worth it.
Maybe you should just quit.
They are insidious. They are designed to cast doubt. Such lukewarm and indifferent statements show nothing more than a low and unexciting threshold for apathy and lack of motivation – enemies of your own success.
Some peoples’ interests aren’t necessarily your interests. And what they want may not align with what you want.
Some number of years ago, I was apartment hunting.
It was an exciting time in my life.
I had just been hired on to an emergency department. Big things were on the horizon for me and my nursing career. I was just starting to get a grasp on what was what, and everything happening in my life felt purposeful and important. I was itching for growth and excitement. And with this new job, I could really help people in need.
I needed to find a place to live near this new hospital I would be working at, and after some time spent combing through listings, I felt like I had just hit the jackpot in a potential space: a gorgeous downtown condo with polished black granite countertops, cherrywood floors, marbled surfaces in the bathroom, parking, storage, a view! WOW! I had never entertained the notion of living anywhere remotely as nice as what I had found. And - it was affordable! Surely this was too good to be true!
I knew I needed to get a viewing of the space as soon as possible. If I could just get there early, I could get in an application and leave a good impression and have a fighting chance at getting that lease! As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm.
But as luck would have it, I wasn’t the first person there. The person standing before me in a suit, smirking, with his hand outstretched was. The landlord had met and greeted me outside, apologizing that her previous applicant’s appointment seemed to be running a bit later than she had planned; the applicant was still inside the condo, lingering. My tour would have to happen with this other person present. I shrugged and proceeded, not really aware of what exactly that meant or entailed.
“Hi,” the applicant said, standing directly in front of me as I entered. It almost looked like he had been waiting for me inside. He extended his hand for me to shake, adding “I’m the early bird.”
What do you even say to that??
Why a single bedroom condo tour would take so long for one person eluded me at the time. My own tour of the place was quite short - as well as awkward. Mr. Early Bird saw to it that he stayed next to me throughout the tour the same way a second shadow might. At one point, he deemed it important that he show me his very expensive wristwatch and explain to me that it was a very expensive wristwatch, as well as educate me about the expensive cologne he was wearing. It seemed he was a businessman of some sort, from his self-touting.
It felt like I was intruding on someone else’s time and space there based on the short, awkward moments of conversation the landlord and I seemed to be allotted and the various awkward glances amidst the situation. When my tour was done, Mr. Early Bird was still there yet, seemingly expecting me to leave him and the landlord alone once again. And so, feeling out of sorts, I departed with a rather confused, restless, and defeated feeling inside.
I felt perturbed and a little confused on the walk down the street outside, heading back to my car. I was too late – someone else had gotten there before me. The opportunity to chat with the landlord had been somewhat sparse. Everything had been awkward and short during my time there. I had really liked the place…perhaps if I had only gotten there earlier, I could have had a better chance at landing it.
The further away I walked, the more restless I felt. It was hard at first to make sense of what had just happened and why it was bothering me so much; Mr. Early Bird had smiled, shook my hand, and was showing me things and talking to me.
But I hadn’t gone there to meet and spend time with Mr. Early Bird.
I was now becoming increasingly annoyed, feeling like I had been loomed over and pushed out; that the landlord’s time to speak with me and interview me had been monopolized – nay, stolen by a strange man in a suit with a fancy watch and wearing cologne.
That guy was a slimy jerk!
I stopped walking, grabbed my cellphone, and immediately called the landlord. “I forgot to fill out my application while I was there,” I stated when she answered. “Can I meet you outside?”
Though it was cold out, the landlord and I both stayed outside this time – the two of us. We had a great conversation and spent some time actually getting to know each other. And after filling out and handing over my application, she expressed relief to me that I had wanted to apply after everything that had happened. Apparently, Mr. Early Bird had no real proof of income despite his nice watch, fancy suit, expensive cologne, and self-importance.
I have many fond memories from my years of living in that condo.
Though none of the memories involve me owning a fancy watch. Too bad, I suppose.
So what about in voiceover? Does the early bird get the worm?
From much of what I’ve read, professionals contend that in general, your odds are better the sooner you can get your audition in. Here are some important factors to consider when auditioning, all of which can relate to or impact the amount of time you spend on your audition.
Audition Fatigue - The producer (or whoever else happens to be listening to the submissions) may, after a couple of dozen auditions, begin to experience audition fatigue on their end. Listening to the same thing over and over can become difficult and, after some time, the producer may not be listening as acutely as they were at first. Later auditions may run the risk of getting glossed over.
Uniqueness of Your Audition - Do you think your audition is going to sound like most of the others? Are you solely depending on just how your voice sounds when you submit your audition? Or are you bringing the words of script to life? How is your read going to stand out from other reads? What will you do to make it interesting to the reader?
Audio Quality - Are you ensuring what you submit sounds professional in actual audio quality? Or are you in such a hurry to audition before everyone else that you’re recording in a Wal*Mart bathroom stall with a loud fan above your head? Do you think that screams professional or quality to the person deciding whether or not to book what they’re hearing?
Are You Following Directions? As well as bringing something unique to the table, are you able to do so within whatever parameters and instructions that have been provided for the audition? It can be challenging and sometimes it can feel like you’re being asked to do completely contradictory things in the instructions you may receive!
Deadlines - If a project needs to be done ASAP, the producer may not necessarily be seeking the very best audition from the pile, but rather the first thing they hear that matches what they have in mind. In situations like this, the early bird most certainly will get the worm. With longer deadlines, however, some producers may listen to every audition they receive – and that can easily add up to hundreds of submissions to be heard for a single job.
If you’re trying to be the early bird for your auditions, it’s important that you don’t sacrifice or compromise the quality in your efforts to be heard early. Avoid submitting a poor-quality or noticeably rushed audition. Your best efforts should be made both for the audition, and then once again for the job. What are you truly advertising and saying about yourself if you are demonstrating half-hearted attempts with hasty auditions just to be early in line? Put yourself in the producer’s position, having to listen to that. Mics can hear a smile – and they can certainly hear a rushed job. “Next!”
Take the time to let your personality shine in its own way for what you put out there. Give the listener a reason to pause and say “Hey – let me hear that one again. I like what they did there.” Grab their attention.
Being first in line by itself doesn’t amount to much if an audition lacks deliberate effort in quality and care. And when it’s quality that producers seek, they will often be willing to take the time to look for it. Sure, people love a Sennheiser MKH-416 or a Neumann TLM 103 just as much as a nice watch or fancy cologne, but quality is truly delivered in the life you bring to a script and how professionally you conduct yourself with the people around you.
Now go make a better impression than the people ahead of you in line!
If you enjoy reading my blogs, I bet you'd like some of the other voice over blogs that I really love! Take a minute and check out these truly wonderful voiceover blogs. Reading these is always a big highlight in my busy life!