Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

November 15, 2015

Yes, we have no bananas…

Filed under: Business, Communication, Negotiating — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 8:00 am

Bananas“Yes, We Have No Bananas”  (the Louis Prima version here in this link) says…

He just “yes”es you to death, and as he takes your dough He tells you
“Yes, we have no bananas
We have-a no bananas today
We’ve string beans, and onions
Cabashes, and scallions,
And all sorts of fruit and say
We have an old fashioned tomato
A Long Island potato But yes, we have no bananas
We have no bananas today”

How does this apply to our business? Bananas = Time.

While I don’t have empirical evidence of this, most voiceover people can usually balance all the projects that show up on their “doorstep” and meet client deadlines. Particularly if you are doing self-directed short form work.

However, there are times when you are actually too busy to take on another project on any given day or week. In most cases, the client can wait for you to work it in. And work it in you will, even if it means staying up late, getting up early or working on the weekend.

But not all the time. Sometimes a job comes in that is just too big to meet a deadline. It happens if you are doing audio books where the finished product could be a dozen hours. It happens in eLearning when the client needs the entire math text for grades K through 5 recorded. It happens in large telephony/IVR jobs where you need to deliver 5000 files on a certain date.

What you don’t want to do is agree to do a job and then not have time to make sure that it meets the quality standards that you have established for yourself. The client is expecting no less.

So, how do you say – Yes, we have no bananas?”

Just be honest with yourself and with your client.

“I am very sorry, but I just can’t meet that deadline. I have several other projects that need to be finished before I can start on yours. Is this a hard and fast due date? Can you take partial delivery?”

If they can’t wait for the project until you have time to make sure that it is up your usual error-free work, then you may have to turn the job down. Better to tell them about your schedule issue and let them make the decision. Most of the time something can be worked out. If not, then it is good to have a handful of people that you could refer.

Our agents used to handle this kind of issue. If you were unavailable, they offered up the next choice. But the nature of our business has changed – especially for those of us who live outside the major production cities and do most of our work in our home studios self-directed. The details of scheduling are in our hands. We are the ones who negotiate and allocate our time.

Most of the time I can work in that extra job that comes in at the last minute and maintain the high quality product I have become known for. If I feel I can’t, then I’ll be honest about my time and see if we can find a way to make it work.

At the moment, I actually have lots of bananas. Lovely little Ice Cream bananas. Two huge bunches of them. And they will all come ripe at once. So I will require assistance to consume them.


July 15, 2015

Common Sense Communication…What Not to Say…

Filed under: Business, Communication, Musings — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 9:49 am
Dan Leonard

Dan Lenard saying something socially acceptable at a VO Peeps gathering last year.

I was thinking about something someone said to me last night at a networking meeting. The person thought they were being complimentary, and I knew that, but it just felt awkward. I’ve been working out a bit more in the past 6 months or so, but no drastic changes really. Anyway, the intended compliment came out as a comparison to some impression of me in the distant past (many many months earlier) and forced me to find some kind of a response, rather than just a thank you.

We have all been guilty of saying things to friends, acquaintances and strangers that should have been better left unsaid – or phrased differently. I would have been very happy with a “You look great!” rather than a “Your face looks thinner.”

I know I have said similar things with similar consequences. The other day I caught myself as I met a colleague who had obviously dropped a lot of weight in recent months. Instead of saying, “You’ve lost so much weight.” or something like that, I simply clasped her hand and said. “You look great!” She was then able to explain what she wanted to explain without any awkwardness.

We all could use a little more “social awareness.”

Found an article by Dr. Travis Bradberry that encapsulates some of the most common conversational pitfalls and suggestions for what to say instead and the reasons why.

I appreciate Number 7 – what to say instead of “Good Luck.” His suggestion to say something like “I know you have what it takes.” is great advice.

However, I am trying to apply it specifically to my career as talent. I may have what it takes, but I may not be the voice in someone’s head this time around.

This is one reason I don’t talk a lot about auditions. People outside my industry, who don’t realize that I audition every day without being the voice in the client’s head will remember that I told them about a cool audition I did to be the voice of such-and-such and then, the next time I see them – could be days or weeks later – they ask me how the audition went. By that time, I have no idea which audition. It is better just to not talk about auditions.

So, if someone does tell me about an audition, I am compelled to respond, In this case, “Good Luck” may be the correct phrase. Especially if said with the right knowing tone. The tone that says, “I know what you are going through.”

But instead, I might say something like, “That sounds right up your alley. Hope you get it!”

Here’s to all of us “getting it” more often!

July 1, 2015

Wait, I left my phone in the house…

Filed under: Business, Communication, Musings, Technology — connieterwilliger @ 8:43 pm

Modern telephone communication is a wonder – a boon – a time-waster and at times – a nightmare. It can also be an addiction, especially when it comes to our smart phones. In fact, it is a named anxiety disorder – Nomophobia (“no mobile phone phobia”).

From Psychology Today – July 25, 2013

Two years ago Psychology Today said that “Nomophobia- fear of being without your smartphone- affects 40% of the population.” Today, the figure is 64%, according to Pew Research Center.

I know that I feel panicked when I can’t find my phone. But it allows me to leave my office during traditional business hours and still stay connected to my clients. This is a good thing.

Years ago, before cell phones and their predecessor car phones, we all had pagers. Before that, we had no stress. OK, so we still had stress. Probably because we could never leave the office.

I remember one day – in the pre-cell phone era, I heard a very odd noise coming from what sounded like the inside of a wall in my house. Every few seconds – a repetitive “buzz buzz buzz.” I was convinced it was a gas leak, or some electrical wiring gone awry. I just knew the house was going to explode. I was panicked. I ran my hands up and down the walls trying to find the source. It went on for several minutes with my panic growing. Ultimately, I discovered my pager, under some clothing on top of a rattan dresser – which is why it wasn’t making its usual beeper sound.

Then I had a car phone – in my mind a status symbol. I felt like such a successful business person with this brick sized marvel sitting next to me. Until the day it was cloned while I was sitting in the turn lane on MacArthur Blvd in Orange County calling local auto shops after my clutch went out. That felt as though I had been betrayed by modern mobile technology.

This was in the late 80’s and since then I have had a progression of cell phones getting smarter and smarter with each waning contract and/or software update.

I couldn’t tell you exactly when I realized that leaving the house without my phone was upsetting. Probably after my first real smart phone – with Facebook and Google installed on it – and wi-fi in every coffee shop.

Lately I find that out of respect for people in public places (like my yoga class or the theater), I turn the ringer and vibrate off. And then forget to turn it on again.

This causes some anxiety – OK, a great deal of anxiety – when trying to find the phone. Since you can’t hear it when you call it, it can stay lost for a long time. Which brings on more anxiety.

I haven’t damaged my phone (knock on wood) for a long time by dropping it into the toilet or cracking the screen, but I have left it places without realizing it. I suppose I have been lucky that it has always showed up. That it wasn’t stolen, or hacked (do they still clone?) or dropped or cracked.

So, trying to not become a Nomophob, I have taken to intentionally leaving the phone at home when I am not going to be gone too long. Of course, the definition of “too long” is open for interpretation.

June 22, 2015

Usage has Value

Filed under: Business, Communication, Musings, Negotiating — connieterwilliger @ 4:20 pm

One of the lessons free lancers – independent contractors – need to learn in this Internet age is to negotiate a fair price for their work. We see it day after day – people wanting the free lancer to work – well, to work not necessarily for free, but close to it. And in fact, in some cases – people DO expect it for free. It is happening in all creative areas.


Oh, for the good old days…

You wouldn’t ask the plumber to cut rates by half or more. The dry cleaner. The tailor. The electrician. But on the creative side of things – the graphic artist, the writer, or the voice talent – it seems like a “name that tune” experience nearly every day.

Part of it is educating the people doing the hiring. But the people doing the work need a bit of education as well in order to arrive at a rate that is fair for everyone.

This is tough, because there are no set rates other than union rates – and those don’t cover every new genre of voiceover work. Nor does the union understand how the majority of voiceover people work these days – in their own studios, on their own time, with their own tools. Some union contracts have value, but a lot are simply hangovers from days gone by. Some rates are too high – and others are too low. And some areas of voiceover are simply not even addressed.

And the scale rates also don’t take into consideration the additional money the producer pays for payroll taxes (the talent is working as an employee), disability, social security and health and retirement benefits. So if you are using union contracts as a guide, be sure to add the extra %!

Nor do the scale union rates consider that the talent will be using their own studio, which under the old model was extra. Then, add to the confusion that the new producers (outside the major markets) might not know any differently. The idea that they would hire a voice talent and then hire a studio to engineer and edit may simply not even occur to them.

And most of the work being done today is non-union. There are “suggested” non-union rates, but these are all over the map. And none of these union or non-union rates are applicable across all projects.

One key area for each side of this coin to think about is “usage.” What is the product designed to do? And where will the end product show up and for how long? Creatives – be prepared to ask. Producers – be prepared to tell.

What is the product designed to do?

Let’s stick to the voiceover side of things for the example. Is the script in front of me going to train in-house people on a process or change the way they think about a process? Or is the end product promoting a product/service to a potential client? Both have value.

Both the producer and the talent need to be aware of the potential for profit for the person paying the bills. While you may not be able to predict profit, you at least must be aware of the potential. This is a starting point for negotiations. If you don’t consider it at all, then there is no room to haggle. Not that I am encouraging a lot of haggling!

Where will the end product show up and for how long? 

How will the final product be used? Is is going to be shown only on a company website with plans to upgrade it each quarter? Or is the script generic and the clients wants all rights in perpetuity throughout the known universe (yes, read the fine print!).

I call it shelf-life and eyeballs/ears. And it is part of any response to the emails that come in saying “How much?” Using those words can break the ice a little when tiptoeing around the dollars.

Usage has Value!

What we do as voice talent is of value to our clients. It will help them communicate to someone to achieve a certain result. That result could be sales. It could be happy productive workers. We all need to aware of what these results could be. Will it keep visitors at a plant safe? Will it cut production costs? Will the project be seen by millions of people over the course of a 10-year lifetime? Will it be seen once by a 12-person board of directors – who control a 6 billion dollar company? Or will it be shown to the board of a small non-profit. Will it help sell thousands of low-dollar product, or hundreds of high-dollar packages?

While results and sales figures can’t possibly be known before the project is produced, we should all evaluate the potential as we negotiate.

Our joint job is to recognize that there is a new business paradigm created by the internet. Some of us have been in business since before the Internet became ubiquitous. We see the changes and struggle to figure out how to stay in business as rates plummet. For those who know nothing of a time before the Internet, they must try to understand that lowering the rate of pay for the creative people who create and produce their messages to a level where they can’t stay in business will result in everyone losing.

One way to help this along is to use an agent. Yes, consider using a middleman…the person the Internet has basically cut out of the equation. An agent will know to ask these questions. Agents are used to discussing rates. Creatives are not as a whole. It has become a very stressful part of a talent’s job – and actually can create barriers to creativity.

In the end, there will be compromise of course. But always, when negotiating directly with the talent, or using an agent, there has to be awareness of the value of the work that is being done.

June 19, 2015

A Change of S-pace

Filed under: Communication, Musings — connieterwilliger @ 12:02 pm

Coming up on about a dozen years ago, I did a major remodel of my kitchen, complete window replacement and interior repainting. What I learned was that I am actually quite comfortable in a much smaller footprint. I lived out of my back bedroom with one of the bathrooms doubling as the kitchen sink and found it actually soothing. Perhaps because I didn’t have so many choices at every turn.

I had a chance to experience this change of space again recently. After attempting to rid my deck cover of termites using a heat treatment, I opted for the more drastic, but more conventional tent and gas method. The last time I tented a house was probably 20 years ago. It ended badly, with the house robbed as soon as the gas dissipated enough not to kill the perps. I am fairly certain it was an inside job, but it wasn’t ever proven. I had insurance and since it was so long ago, my life wasn’t so tied up in hard drives, so I really didn’t lose anything that couldn’t be replaced – except for my grandfather’s antique cherry wood view camera.

RVThis time I was not going to leave the house unguarded. So the plan was to rent a motor home and park out front. I thought I was going to be able to access my back studio and garage in order to keep working and simply sleep out there, but as it turns out, there are electrical and cable conduits running from the main house to the studio and garage, so they counseled me not to enter – even though the risk was low.

So, basically, I went car camping in front of my house for a few days.

And once again, I found that I liked the smaller space. For a while anyway. The 25′ motor home had a big bed, a shower and potty, a stove, microwave, refrigerator/freezer – and I was close enough to my house to hook up to power, water and wi-fi. So except for access to my studio, I was set.

Since my studio is in the back part of my lot, I do not spend much time in the front part of my property. I get out to walk the dog a couple times a day and back out of the driveway when I leave to run errands. But hang out in the front? Nope.

What I discovered by living on the street in front of my house was – in addition to reminding myself that I was comfortable living in small spaces – was my neighbors. They would walk by – poke their head in the open door – climb in and chat. Or we’d meet out on the sidewalk under the Mulberry tree and chat. Or someone would suggest going for a walk. It was delightful. I met and/or reconnected with a lot of neighbors. I got lucky that no one needed an ISDN session and the work that was due wasn’t urgent, so I was on vacation for a few days – no place to be. No deadlines. A change of pace as well as my space.

The tent is off. The food unpacked. And once again I have room to spread out. And choices to make at every turn. The pace is back to normal – busy busy. I would hope that I learned something from this little front yard camping experience, but now that I am back in my office, the front yard is again abandoned. People pass by with their kids and dogs and friends – and I am oblivious. But now more mindful of the parade I am missing.

July 25, 2012

It’s all about the story, and the pictures, and the music, and voice at the end

Filed under: Communication, Musings — Tags: , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 1:27 pm

I don’t often post twice in a day, but my day was interrupted by Online Video Daily – one of the MediaPost enewsletters I get and after watching this video, I just had to pass it along.

What an charming, heart-warming little story this is – don’t be surprised if you find yourself a little choked up by the half-way mark as you start to see where it is going.

July 3, 2012

Am I on Twitter?

Filed under: Communication, Marketing, Musings — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 12:00 pm

So, I keep seeing this question pop up on various social networking groups…

“Are you on Twitter?”

Well, yes, I have a Twitter account. @ISDNVoiceover

And I have people who actively follow my tweets. Or have at least clicked on the link to Follow Me. And many of them will probably see this post when it gets fed to the various places it gets fed to when it is published.

But am I ON Twitter? Not very much.

I still don’t get it. Unless I am using it all wrong, it seems like a pull website. Where I have to go to it and pull the information. OK, Facebook is that way too, but for some reason I WANT to go to Facebook and check out what is happening. I just don’t find myself drawn to Twitter the same way.

Perhaps I just need someone to break it down for me. Talk to me like I’m six years old. Wait, the six year olds probably don’t need to be told. It is now in their DNA.


May 13, 2012

Forum Decorum

Filed under: Announcements, Business, Communication, Marketing, Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 9:20 am

I belong to a slew of groups on LinkedIn – including a large number of voiceover related groups. Why is it that there seems to be a plethora of unprofessional comments. Social media has been around for years now and it amazes me how people don’t seem to understand that what they post is there for the world to see (when a group is an open group).

I felt compelled to comment today on one of them after a couple of people actually started slamming a legitimate producer for not posting his undying thanks to the group. His post was 6 MONTHS ago and people are still posting comments with links to their demos. And now some are complaining that he hasn’t posted to say thank you!?

It is an International Group with members from all over the world, and perhaps members with little time on social media or little time in the voiceover business, so – as a long time full-time voice talent – with a background as a producer – and an early adopter of technology and social media – may I offer a bit of advice? Thanks…

First of all. When someone posts looking for talent, it is fairly easy to click on their profile link and do some due diligence to see if they are “real” company. Check out their website. Is it professional? Can you check out who some of their clients are?

Then, reply privately! There is no need for two or more pages of voice talent shouting “pick me, pick me!” Really, take a look at any thread where someone has posted that they are looking for talent. It screams desperation.

And understand that producer seek talent in a lot of places. This particular producer posted to a group that specifically includes people that say they do eLearning work, so it was logical that he would post a request for people who do eLearning, but he probably was looking in other places as well. Even if this was the only group he posted to, a lot of people DID contact him privately, so he may not come back here…until the next time he needs talent.

But, if you look at the original post – it was 6 months ago! My goodness! Why are people still posting to the thread? And worse yet, castigating him? Why would he ever come back?

There are groups where introducing yourself when you join is encouraged. If you are joining a group where voiceover is not the main focus – then, certainly introduce yourself to the group and provide links to your demos.

Then watch the other introductions as they come in – and send PRIVATE responses to those people who may (or are) seeking the kinds of skills you possess.

The more professional, helpful, respectful and funny you are in the posts you do make to public forums, the more people will think of you as a professional and someone they would like to do business with.

May 10, 2012

Another of my favorite MediaPost Pubs: Out to Launch

Filed under: Communication, Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 12:51 pm

Want to see some of the most interesting, clever, stylish or funny of the new ads (mostly video, but some print too) being produced around the world? They are even including a random iPhone app of the week (what about my droid app of the week?).

Sign up to get Out to Launch – another of the multitude of enewsletters published by MediaPost.

This week they are showcasing spots for Orbitz which are pretty funny, Tetley Tea from an Australian firm, and Jagermeister’s first ad in the US. Just wish my internet connection was faster! Takes a while to download and play them.

November 28, 2011

Content is a woman, distribution is a man.

Filed under: Business, Communication, Musings — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 10:50 am

While I am not directly involved in content creation as a producer anymore, or on the distribution side of things, this article caught my eye because of my interest in seeing good content.

I’m pretty sure I have posted links to this guy’s article before – Ashkan Karbasfrooshan is CEO of, a producer of premium video content.

These two articles talk about online content and exclusivity and include what seems to be an accurate picture of content being a “woman” and distribution, a “man.”

He postulates…

By and large, distribution companies

–        never make any promises,

–        have no-strings-attached offerings,

–        make no commitments,

–        rarely seek exclusivity, and

–        when they do, it’s usually too good to be true.

Content owners, meanwhile,

–        enter distribution deals with expectations,

–        believe the promises they hear,

–        expect a commitment, and

–        want a guarantee.

In his second article on the same subject, he adds a third and fourth element to this relationship – the advertiser and the viewer and then it REALLY gets complicated. Good reading.

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