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British politeness, customer service and my hair...

Well, thank goodness I'm not in any 'on camera' jobs for the next 6 to 8 weeks. Because I'm currently channelling a young Jon Bon Jovi, minus the excellent vocal skills. Oh wait, I do have excellent vocal skills. Never mind.

I went to a different hairdresser and, despite explaining what I needed in order to look fabulous for my impending 30th, ended up with a mullet and a wonky fringe. What was my reaction? I said, 'thank you', paid my pennies and left, mumbling to myself and trying to tuck said 'do' behind my inhumanly small ears. They don't have lobes. But that's for another blog.

A lady doing good voiceover-ing for her happy clients...

A lady doing good voiceover-ing for her happy clients...

Why didn't I say anything?! What madness is this?! It's not a new concept but why do us british find it so hard to complain? If you're paying for a service and it isn't right, you should let it be known shouldn't you? Maybe it's the face to face thing that makes it harder. Most of my work, as a service provider (the service being my dulcet Irish voice tones, nothing dodgy, you...) is conducted via phone or email. Client gets in touch with what they want, I give client what they want, if it's not right the client asks for something else, I give client something else, etc. They certainly let me know if what I've provided isn't right, that's for sure. But I wouldn't expect anything less. And I don't mind at all. They are paying me to meet their brief.

 

 

Why on earth didn't I tell this bloke to fix my mop? Why?! I essentially paid him to make me look like a tribute to Rod Stewart circa 1985 which was NOT the brief. Maybe this says more about my character. Hey look, I've sent food back in a restaurant or not tipped the waiter if I didn't think the service was good enough, but these are still technically not direct interactions which the responsible party. Food is cooked by a chef in the back and by the time the service staff see the lack of tip you're mid self righteous flounce outa there.

Perhaps I need to 'strap on a pair', as they say. 'Pair' being metaphorical testicles hinting in a sexist manner at increased strength and 'they' being me, mostly, I think. Is that an Irish saying?  That's not for now. And yes, looks like I did just used the word 'testicles' in a professional blog. Twice now. Oh dear. 

What is your view? Complain or keep schtum? Voice over folk, do you take it personally when people aren't happy with what you've provided? Or is it all part of the service. Do let me know. I'll have a lot of time on my hands what with not leaving the house at all for the foreseeable future...

Mulleting-ly yours, 

Jon 

(...Bon Jovi)

by Nicola Redman

Lovely talented friends of Nic the Voiceover type person...

I've met a lot of people in my short (ish...I'm almost 30 now, is that short?) life. From drama school to life as an actor, to life generally. I've have had the pleasure of mingling with loads of whoppingly talented people. So I thought I'd share a few of them with you guys and what they are up to at the moment. Makes a change from blowing my own voice over business trumpet. Business trumpet, there's a newspaper waiting to be written. OK, here goes!

 

  • Awesome mate/ex housemate Lisbee Stainton. A singer/songwriter making her merry way in the world making all sorts of amazing sounds on various instruments and also with her mouth. Lisbee just started a podcast and I was honoured to be asked to be her first guest. Have a listen.

 

  • Hot to trot pal Hilary has been busy creating one of the best vintage girl groups on the PLANET right now, Elle & the Pocket Belles. She and various pint sized hotties have been all over the place this summer performing at a plethora of festivals (including Glasto...yup, and they managed to keep their petticoats clean) so if you like a good boogie, check out their tunes here.

 

  • My buddy Adebayo Bolaji has taken time out from being a super successful actor and written a play. How good it that? (He's in it as well, like, obvs.) It's called In Bed and is on next week at London Theatre Workshop and it's looking pretty awesome. You can check out the trailer here.

 

  • Finally for now, the person I share a flat with, in a romantic sense (eewwww...) comedian and illustrator, Chris Cantrill has been working hard on his latests solo show, Welcome to Tiddleminster which is on at the Hen and Chickens tonight and tomorrow, if you hurry you may just make it! He draws lots of brill things too, so if you need something designed or drawn, drop him a line.

 

There you go. Just wanted to spread the love. Always nice to be able to shout about what your friends are doing. Perhaps their creative success and entrepreneurial spirit is what keeps me going on this wobbly path. It can be done people, hang in there! 

Return the favour, introduce me to the creative endeavours of all your talent friends. Musicians, singers, writers, artists, cooks, cockle shell collectors, whatevs! Nowt like having a new 'thing' to get excited about ...

Bye for now.

Nic

By Nicola Redman

The next phase. WORLD DOMINATION! Jokes... Just voice stuff.

VASTA? What the (Charles) Dickens is that Nic?

Well reader, it's an association wot I'm a part of in preparation for embarking on the next stage of my career journey. Drumroll please...

It stands for the Voice and Speech Trainers AssociationI'm embarking on an MA in Voice Studies to train as a Voice Coach. It's all very exciting. I managed to claw my way onto the aforementioned course at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and I start in October. It's ever so exciting. Oh, I've said that already.

So I recently attended the VASTA annual conference which, with a wonderful stroke of luck, was being held at RCSSD where I'll be doing the course. Holy. Mackerel. Anyone who was anyone in voice training was there, in one building. And me. I mean, if there'd been a natural disaster and we'd all perished, the voice world would pretty much have been doomed and no one would have spoken properly or freed their breath again. Lucky it didn't. And we all had a jolly good time. And canapés.

Cecily hammering home the 'keep hydrated' message...

Cecily hammering home the 'keep hydrated' message...

Having not really 'learned' anything, apart from a preference for cucumber to lime in gin, since my last academic degree nearly 7 years ago it was a pretty heavy week brain wise. Workshops, lectures, panels, performances, 'dialogues' (which is just a poncy word for conversation if you as me...) It was ALL happening. I got 3 free pens, 2 notebooks and a tote bag. As well as some excellent sandwiches (brie and grape, who knew?) All the senses were stimulated. Plus I got to witness to voice matriarch that is Cicely Berry interrupt an emotional speech in her honour to inform us that her friend they were currently talking about "only had one eye". An hilarious, if slightly out of place interjection. But then she could have interrupted belching the alphabet and no one would have minded. Legend that she is. An incredible woman.

My mind is now whirring with Lessac, Linklater, Fitzmorris, Alexander, The Crystals, the Polyvagal Theory, vocal anatomy, the International Phonetic Alphabet and I'm raring to get started on the course... Hardly any room left at all for thoughts of what I'll spend my student discount on first.

Who needs one MA when you can have two eh? Wish me luck.

By Nicola Redman

[Soon to be 'Nicola Redman BA MA MA'...lolz]

1 + 1 = should've listened in maths class...

I'm a business woman now. Yes, that's right. Shoulder pads n' all. Like the ones in the navy jacket Vivienne (Ju-Robs.) wears in that bit in Pretty Woman when she's off to make better of herself and not be a hooker no more. 

Now, turns out being a business woman means I have to do maths and that. I didn't really listen in maths when I was a kid. Once the teacher advised us to learn some formulae 'off pat' (e.g, by rote, memorise them...) and I answered "Who's Pat?" (#lol) A classic, if mistimed, gag. And perhaps a sign of my comedic future.

Anyway. Here I am. Actually needing maths in a real life situation. I have to do business accounts you see. Incomings, outgoings, profit and loss. Not to mention getting a handle on receipts and taxes and whatnot! The thought of numbers brings me out in a rash. If you're this way inclined, I have a few tips you're welcome to -

1) Stay on top of it. Allocate some time each week to sorting though your receipts, checking what payments have come in where, chasing unpaid invoices, updating accounts records. That way when it's (gulp) April and Tax time, you're in a good place. And not face first in a Tesco bag for life full of bus tickets and purchase orders crying. That only happened once. And ok it was an Aldi bag for life. Honesty and all...

2) Cheat! (Not on your taxes, jeepers no....) So your not Rainman. That's cool, Rainman probably can't do 17 different accents or create the voice for a cartoon squirrel. We all have our talents. And we all need a little help in other areas. There are tools for this. My voiceover mate Pete Edmunds put me on to Free Agent. Which is fab online accounting software with all the bells and whistles you need to keep a check of your work related numbers. They have excellent facilities for invoicing, expenses, linking your accounts, taxes, plus the support and assistant is wonderful. This all takes me back to my youth when my big dream (seriously) was to be, what I called, a 'Bank Manager'. I meant the lady at the desk who thumbed through the notes fingering a wet sponge...What a gal she was.

3) Get an accountant. Just get one. They know what they are doing and can make sure you do everything right and don't accidentally put all your money into an offshore Tax haven next to Gary Barlow's piggy back. And the money you spend on one is Tax deductible. Winning! Also you can do the minimum and get back to doing what you do best. Talking to yourself in a silly voice. Bliss. 

What's my (decimal) point? (See what I did there?! Classic maths word play) Don't panic if you not a numbers person. Get the help you need. Don't accidentally commit fraud. That is NOT a good start to the week. Likewise in any area of your business. If you're good at some bits and not so good at others, get googling and find the assistance. It's better in the long run. You might even learn something. Like how to spell 'decimal'... 

Laters number crunchers

x

Wimble-DON'T! Distractions in the life of a Voice Over Artist

Guys, it's only day two and, like a moth to a flame, I'm being drawn to Wimbledon. I don't play tennis or watch any of the other tournaments, heck, I don't even know the off side rule (football joke, it's still the World Cup for some people...) but for some reason, I can't get enough of that blimmin' grassy strawberry fuelled event. (C'MON ANDY!)

If I'm honest, it's not just Wimbledon I find difficult to avoid. Those back to back re-runs of Come Dine With Me are darned tempting too. Can't not get enough of Dave Lamb, the majorly hilarious narrator.

OK look, it's not just #CDWM and #Wimbledon. There's those 'Real Housewives...' shows, and 'Millionaire Matchmaker'. Flip, you'd think I had nothing better to do. It's not like I'm trying to run a business here. If, like me, you get distracted by the mere flicker of a LDC HD 42 incher (ooh matron) or anything else for that matter, computer games, Facebook, an upturned fly that can't get up buzzing round in a circle, I do a couple of things to ensure my productivity stays higher than the décolletage of the New Jersey Wives gang.

1) Remove yourself from the distraction, or it from you. For me that's no TV in, or turned on in, the workspace area when I'm trying to work. I have an office. Which has no telly. But it's at the back of the house, so doesn't get as much sun. And when the sun comes out in the UK you have to soak it up. So sometimes I move to the living room. Where there is a TV the size of a small car. Then the temptation is right there. All shiny and full of hot, sweaty dudes (during Wimbles. at any rate...) So I turn it off to concentrate. Sounds simple. Well it's not. I've got the will power of a nun in a cucumber field. So.....

2) I do allow myself the odd peek. Don't deprive yourself from your distraction completely, you'll want it more. Unlike some homeworkers, I don't find it hard to stop working. I make myself stop, a proper lunch (say 30-45mins) is at least must. During this time, I allow myself to indulge in my temptation, and kick back with a sandwich, an 'erbal tea and lose myself in something trashy. Problem solved.

It's important to take breaks and treat yourself. When you run your own business, long term burn out is always a risk, you're the only person who can make it work so you have to keep pushing. But I've made sure to teach myself to stop for breaks from the offset. And I've felt the benefits. After lunch and a bit of Dave Lamb's banter, I'm ready to rock, refreshed and eager to get back to it.

If someone could just come over and blindfold me for the duration of Wimbledon? That'd be great, ta. 

What's your distraction? Let me know. Admitting it is the first step... 

 DEUCE! Back to work.