Skechers Fitness App
This is a simulated audition for a new fitness app by Skechers. We’re looking for a fun, personable, and motivational voice. We haven’t decided what name to use, so for this audition, please use your first name. Please slate first name, last initial, and Skechers fitness app.
Welcome to Walk Away the Pounds. I’m
I’m so glad you’re walking with me today. You know, this one mile walk is the perfect way to get started and be introduced to what this walking system is all about. It’s also a nice short workout for you.
Now, are you ready? Let’s walk! The warmup is very gentle and it really does prepare for the brisk walking that’s coming later on.
First of all, I’d like to review the four basic steps in our walk system.
Winners and All Entries Below
But first, read our free: Analysis: Why the Winners Won ... and Why Others Didn't.
Congratulations to Miranda Gauvin, Derek Lane, Nichole James, Jeff Mullett, and Aimee Gironimi.
(Yes – five winners! We have two runner ups!) In explaining what a walking system is all about, they demonstrated how to approach a motivational Explainer. To help you take your future auditions farther, here are some tips on how to approach them.
Edge Studio VO Tip #1
Follow the Direction. Repeat: Follow the Direction. We’re putting this first because if you don’t follow the submission instructions, or if you missed the mark in the first part of your performance, many audition screeners will simply hit the “Thank you, Next!” button. This contest is a learning experience, so we are slightly more tolerant. But we did note many errors:
- Slating incorrectly. Many of the entrants didn’t follow the slating instructions properly, or didn’t slate at all. The Voice Direction said: first name, last initial, and “Sketchers Fitness App.” Note that the Voice Direction did not specify the slate position. So maybe, juuuust maybe, if someone left their slate well past the end of their audition, we probably didn’t hear it. Here’s what to know: when slating instructions are given, follow them precisely. And if placement is not specified, we suggest placing it first – if only to let the screener know right away that you can follow instructions.
- Not having the specified “voice.” Here we don’t mean your vocal quality. We mean your tone, manner, attitude, and such. Getting this right is not as clear-cut as slating, but it’s at the heart of what “direction” and “voice acting” are all about. The Voice Direction asked for “fun, personable, and motivational.” But many people sounded … well, otherwise. Many reads lacked a conversational quality, or were sing-songy, and thus came off as not so believable. The Tip here is to imagine you’re talking one-to-one, with someone you know, or maybe coaching a fitness client, conveying your enthusiasm in a way that is personal and infectious, but not at all bombastic or pushy.If you have trouble imagining someone in front of you (a good coach can help with that), here’s a technique that helps a lot: simply smile.
Edge Studio VO Tip #2
Follow the script, word for word, sound for sound. A “conversational” style is informal, but nevertheless needs to be accurate. After all, you must be easily understood, the first time. True, with a tutorial like this, the listener can probably rewind and listen again. But that disrupts the listener’s train of thought and interferes with your emotion. You want to engross the listener, right? So, take care to pronounce your words clearly enough that they’ll all be discernible – even after music and sound effects cover them up a bit.
Yet, don’t overdo it. How do you know when you’ve got the right touch? Include enunciation drills in your daily practice. Be sure to record yourself and listen back. (You might occasionally even run a recording past a trusted friend.) Have you “swallowed” a syllable? Slurred syllables together? Dropped the consonant at the end or start of a word? (The meaning of “bris” is very different from “brisk.”) Mispronounced a word? (e.g., “Ah’ll” instead of “I’ll.” Or “Interduced” instead of “introduced.”) And did you change, add, or omit a word?
Edge Studio VO Tip #3
Find the right pace – not too fast, not too slow. It’s common for new voice actors to speak too quickly. It’s part inexperience, part nervousness, part failure to consider the genre. In a commercial, where time is sometimes tight, a faster-paced delivery may be called for. Or in Promotion (such as a sports promo), speed contributes to energy. But most genres, such as Narration and this motivational Explainer, call for a more natural pace. Your listener needs to hear what you’re saying, and grasp what you’ve said. They may even need a moment to think about it. So don’t rush it. On the other hand, don’t put them to sleep. Remember: “fun and motivational.” TIP: Once you have a feel for pacing, it will become innate. To get the feel, listen to some professionally produced examples from major brands, write out the scripts, and read along. As always, record yourself and see how you sound.
Edge Studio VO Tip #4
Emphasize the most important words, in a natural way. Above, we mentioned sing-song delivery. Except in a few situations, such as a children’s script, or a character piece, that’s virtually never good. It’s not natural, and it gets boring very quickly. But certain words do need to be emphasized. Which ones to choose? Ah – that’s why you should train! Opinions sometimes differ as to which words are most important. A starting rule of thumb is: What words are action items or descriptors? And, what words communicate the writer’s objective?
If there is a client or brand name, of course hit that. If a key word is repeated a short bit later in the script, you may not want to hit it the second time, but instead hit what is different in that phrase. (For example, “Among the most important equipment are your shoes. For running, you should have running shoes.”) And, as you stress various words, don’t get stressed out! Your listener will sense your overdoing it, because you’ll sound artificial and pushy, not friendly. One way to hit words without becoming sing-songy or artificial is to emphasize them in different ways. Instead of saying it a bit louder, change the pitch, or slow your pronunciation, or pause just before. In fact, although normal speech of course varies in volume (as we can see from a waveform), intentionally increasing your volume can be problematic, because it sounds pushy, and the audio might become distorted somewhere along the line.
1st place winner: Miranda Gauvin
1st place winner: Miranda Gauvin
Terrific! She has great variety, the right tone, and a smile. She delivers it all with a positive, exciting, spirited voice. As a result, she sounds super nice, like someone you’d like as a friend. Sometimes her pauses are too long. For example, at the comma in “You know, this…” The overly long pause sounds unnatural. Also, her pronunciation of “short” sounds like “sure.” Her recording quality is good.
2nd place winner: Derek Lane
2nd place winner: Derek Lane
We love his easy-going, spontaneous delivery. And his voice is likable, clear, and spirited without being dramatic. It’s a great blend of qualities for this project. But some things need improvement. His slate begins with an “N” sound (“NnnDerek”). This an example of “lazy mouth,” which is when you begin sounding a word before opening your lips. To avoid this, open your mouth before saying the word. The client’s name – which always calls for clarity — is a bit fast and slurred. Ironically, it’s the only rushed, unclear word! But there are others: He said “inner-duced” instead of “introduced.” And the word “short” sounds a bit like “sure.” It can be understood here, but once mixed with music, it may not be. He also lost the K sound on “brisk.” His recording quality is good, but there are click noises between his slate and the read, also clicks here and there throughout his audition.
3rd place winner: Nichole James
3rd place winner: Nichole James
She has a friendly voice, and gave us nice variety. She sounds genuine. A few suggestions to consider … In her slate, she gave her name an upward inflection (“Nichole J?”). Names should generally be said confidently. Voicing both your name and the audition title with a downward inflection makes you sound more confident, which is a quality casting teams tend to like. Also, she should listen back critically for any sounds that weren’t well formed. There’s an errant “G” sound between the words in “for you.” Her recording quality is good, but there are some pops, and breaths are too loud. She’s too close to the mic, which made that G sound even more conspicuous.
Runner up: Jeff Mullett
He sounds a bit too announcerish in the beginning (e.g., “I’ll be your audio guide.”). Luckily, we don’t move on to the next recording at the slightest excuse. (Many clients will stop listening, as they have more auditions than time.) As we listened further (after “You know,”), we were surprised to hear a wonderful, “happy to listen to” voice! He sounds charismatic, genuine, and friendly. His Southern accent also adds to his vocal charm. We love his chuckle in “It’s also…” That kind of personality is something our clients LOVE! His recording quality is good. HEAR HIS ENTRY IN THE LIST BELOW.
Runner up: Aimee Gironimi
Overall, it’s a great read: spontaneous, clear, interesting, happy, and charismatic. She’s so happy, she sometimes sounds like she’s laughing. However: Like another of our winners, she “uptalked” her name; it sounds like this “Amy G?” And the name “Skechers” is said so quickly, we don’t hear the R sound. She speaks very quickly throughout, but the ever-so-slightly longer pauses here and there enable the listener to keep pace. A more concerning result of her brisk (not brusk!) manner is that she swallows a lot of word sounds. And at one point, her voice starts to dip away, becoming scratchy. But that’s a natural characteristic of her voice. In this case, it’s not major. Oh, and she should “proof listen” to her chosen take – she would have noticed that she said “walking system” at the end, where the script says “walk system.” Her recording quality is okay, but she is a little too close to the mic, which results in a sort of “in your face” sound. HEAR HER ENTRY IN THE LIST BELOW.