chapter  13
8 Pages

More Voiceover Opportunities

VOICE RESPONSE When you call an insurance company, a customer support number, your doctor, or any number of other businesses and services, chances are you will be walked through a menu of options to help get you to the right person to talk with. Recording all of these voice messages can be a nice additional piece of business for you, and the opportunities are limitless if you can capture the work. We’ve all heard this type of recording before: “For software questions or problems, press 1,” and so forth. These voice prompts are relied on by an increasing number of companies, both to reduce the number of phone operators they must employ and to help manage the customer’s requests and get them to the proper person, so that the customer can get the information they need. For a number of years, I was involved with a company that provided health insurance information to a large number of insurance customers, and, as part of this service, we did voice prompts. The scripts were quite long and were constantly changing, and the voiceover artist developed a critical skill in performing these scripts. The lines of script were often of this type: “You have 10,719 dollars and 21 cents in your account.” As the customer would add to and withdraw from the account, these figures would change. The trick in doing these voice response messages was to keep things sounding as natural as possible; we’ve all heard terrible mismatches when the figures are inserted, with the inflections all over the map. The amount of concentration required from the performer to keep everything flowing smoothly is quite remarkable to witness. For the above line, the recording is accomplished by first reading “You have” as a stand-alone line, followed with recording “left in your account.” “Dollars” and “cents” are recorded separately, as well. Now, the tricky part: all of the numbers that are going to be inserted must be recorded individually, and this requires recording counting from one to ten thousand-not the most exciting of sessions, but one that kept us all on our toes. The performer had to ensure that “five hundred and” would match up with “seventeen” (at which point “dollars” would be inserted), to be followed with “and,” then “no” and “cents.” For an amount higher than ten thousand, the system was programmed to pull “twenty” or “thirty” or the appropriate number to insert into the sentence. As I said, this tested our concentration, and the work was quite tiring as a result. This is certainly not a time when the engineer, or the voice talent, can put everything on autopilot! When a break was called for, it was essential to play back some of the previously recorded lines, in order for the performer to find the rhythm and tone again. If the talent started to slip in the delivery and drift off from where she was 10 minutes before, it was my job to catch this and make the necessary corrections, often by backing up 10 or 15 minutes in the recording and playing that back for the voice artist.