Connie Terwilliger – ISDN Voice Talent

January 22, 2012

Back to School!

Filed under: Business, Teaching — Tags: , — connieterwilliger @ 9:34 am

While I work as a voice talent full-time – and have been this time around for the past dozen years or so – I do manage to carve out enough time in the Spring and Fall to teach one class at San Diego City College.

The reason I say “this time around” – is that I started out making a full-time living doing announcing and voiceover work, while also working in my spare time as a producer/writer. I actually gave up my free-lance voiceover work for several years while I worked full-time in a video and film department where I wore lots of hats. Eventually, I chose to stop producing and put the writing on the back burner as well, moving back into voicework full-time. I actually consider those years as “post” post-graduate school for my voiceover work.

Back to the class. It is a basic introduction to voiceover. If you are interested in what goes on there, you could sign up for the class blog with assignments and links to interesting articles and podcasts of interest to people wanting to learn more about the business.

While, of course, I get paid to teach the class, the main reason I rearrange my schedule is that when I teach the class, I am actually taking the class myself! Every semester, in the process of revealing the mysteries of what it is to be a voiceover professional, I learn something new.

(Geez, there are a lot of “I’s” in that last paragraph.)

But, it is true, if you spend time thinking about what it is you are doing – analyzing – verbalizing – you will get better at it. Plus, I get to “perform” in front of a captive audience twice a week.

First class is tomorrow at 9:35 AM. The class is full with a waiting list, so the first day will be busy with paperwork. But we will manage to get some actual “work” done to, because this semester will start off a bit different from most in that I will be out of town the entire following week doing a live announce gig.

So I have this Monday and Wednesday to get the class “introduced” to the biz and then give them a big listening and doing assignment that will throw them into the deep end of the business.

It will be so much fun to see what they come up with when the class picks back up in February.

June 6, 2010

Back Home – What Just Happened?

Filed under: Musings, Teaching — connieterwilliger @ 3:48 pm

There was so much going on the past few days at VOICE 2010, that I didn’t get a chance to blog and will need a day or two to digest what I got out of the sessions I attended and go through the business cards to try to remember who was there.

I did get a chance to update my Facebook page with photos and updates. If you are not on Facebook, this link may not work.!/album.php?aid=244274&id=678849697

I would say the highlight of the socializing part of the event – of which there were many – was hearing Rob Paulsen sing the Nations of the World song in his Yakko voice acappela.

That and seeing June Foray, now 92, up on stage and hearing her slip into Rocket J Squirrel without a beat.

Highlights of the seminars will require a bit more thinking – there were many little bits of information in each session I attended. Many of the sessions were geared to all levels of voiceover folk, so much of the material was not new.

I am looking forward to reading the details of John Florian’s Survey on to see if there were any trends or insight into where the business is going that might help me continue to grow my business.

January 24, 2010

VO Explained in 5 Minutes

Filed under: Teaching — Tags: , , — connieterwilliger @ 10:29 am

This isn’t new, but I ran across the clip on the Working Voice Actor group on LinkedIn this morning.

Blair Hardman explains everthing you need to know about voiceover – and one thing you don’t – in 5 minutes. It’s accurate and funny.


September 30, 2009

Evolve or Die…

Filed under: Business, Marketing, Teaching, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — connieterwilliger @ 2:18 pm

Yes – it’s true – we must evolve or we will go out of business. I’ve used that phrase before (Evolve or Die) when discussing the changes that the performer’s unions need to make in order to survive, but it is also the premise of today’s Voice Over Today electronic newsletter published by Edge Studio. 

TO SUBSCRIBE: send a blank email to:

They highlighted four areas that will cause you to lose clients. This is a message every voice talent (beginner or pro) should think about. Most of the folks I know do think about these Four Points, but it never hurts to have a reminder. So see below for the article – written by Edge Studio. 



Story: A while ago, one of our clients hired a student we had just trained to narrate a large series of videos.  They loved his voice. Recently we hired him back to narrate another large project. This time, he no longer sounded good.  He lost a good client. I asked if he’d been practicing.  He said no. 

There are 3 reasons why CONTINUED TRAINING IS SO IMPORTANT:  You can fall into bad habits (no one tells you why you lose auditions!) Other voice talent will get better than you (watch out!)   Clients always need new styles (new styles for podcasts, self-guided tours,…) solution: At minimum, work with a coach every other month to ensure you maintain. Preferably, work with a coach every month to become better and offer more clients more styles! Remember: your vocal delivery is your livelihood! 


Story: A voice talent sent me an audition recording.  Their voice was PERFECT.  But their home studio quality wasn’t.  The client did not like them.  (Note that some clients CANNOT DIFFERENTIATE between poor home studio recording and poor vocal performance.) After telling the talent this, she replied, “But this used to be fine.”  Yes, 5 years ago, her quality was considered good for a home studio.  Today, however, clients are used to better quality.

Here are a few other examples of not keeping up with technology: Talent ask if they can fed-ex a CD to me.  “Huh?”  Why can’t they FTP it to me?  Or oftentimes we hear slight noises in recordings. Why?  I guarantee the talent will lose some work.  Fall behind in technology, and your clients may leave you behind. Here are technology items to stay current with:   equipment (editing on old software is slower, so you charge more, and bid too high)  editing software / file type knowledge (unfamiliar with the new file extensions for flash?  this scares clients)   delivery methods (still have “fed-ex” on your rate card?  you look outdated)

Solution: Hire someone to visit your studio once every 6 months for a tune-up.  Have them update your software, show you new editing features, check sound quality, and set you up for new file types.


Story: At a recent voice over event, I was re-acquainted with a lot of old-timers who told me, “I’m not getting the amount of work I used to get!”  Funny, I thought   they hadn’t marketed to me in years and subsequently I had forgotten about them and how talented they are.  Trust me: there is a reason why major retailers (Honda, Sears, McDonalds,…) continue to promote themselves.  If they don’t, competitors will eventually take over.  IT’S THE SAME THING IN VOICE OVER. Many old-times got all their work from a few clients and/or agents. But things change.  Sometimes suddenly.  Are you prepared?  Or do you rely on a few select clients (who could suddenly go out of business), and meanwhile you’re not prepared to market?

Here are marketing to stay current with:   marketing frequency (do you think single marketing efforts are still enough?)   marketing types (do you think business cards are still all you need?) marketing messages (still trying to be a jack of all trades?) marketing quality (perforated edged, matrix printed business cards don’t work today) 

Solution: hire someone who knows voice over marketing to review your business plan (do you even have one?  if you want to grow, you should have one).  take a workshop at edge or even at a local college.

**Professionalism: ARE YOU BUSINESS-LIKE?

Story: One of our clients got VERY upset with a voice talent who we hired recently.  So upset, they chose to replace him with another talent!  Obviously we won’t hire that talent anymore. But the weird thing is that the voice talent didn’t even realize what they did wrong!

Face it: our little industry has grown up.  It’s now a big, professional industry   complete with its set of do’s and don’t’s. And sure, as with anything, as time goes by, there are more and more changes.  So for those of you who are beginning your voice over career, you MUST LOOK PROFESSIONAL from the start.  And for those of you already immersed in the industry, you MUST CONTINUE looking professional.  If you don’t, you chance losing clients.  

You MUST always stay on top of:   appearing professional (the jargon, the sequence of events,…)   dealing with corporate types: knowing when to ask which questions   the general in’s and out’s of the industry   the ever-changing politics of the industry (unions, agents,….)

Solution: Study the industry.  Speak with folks who are in it. Read books.  DO WHAT YOU CAN to come across business-like. This makes a BIG difference in the amount of work you get. (Or consider Edge Studio’s “Talk & Pro 101 Seminar)


That’s it in a nutshell – and tracks closely something else I drone on about – it takes much more than Talent to make it in this business these days!

You need a combination of Talent, Technological Skills, Marketing Skills and Business Skills.

September 4, 2009

To Do More Coaching?

As many of you know, in addition to being a full-time voiceover talent, I teach a Voice Acting Class at San Diego City College – one class in the Fall and one in the Spring – usually in the day from 9:30 to noon. Given my regular voice work, it has been getting harder and harder to carve out the time to actually get to the class.

This semester the class is in the evening and I am noticing a couple of things.

  • The students seem more attentive
  • Homework is complete and has been turned in on time
  • And I am able to make it to class without flying out the door at the last second (OK, I did that once this week.)

It is still early, but I am looking forward to the rest of the semester – and then seriously comparing it to the Spring class which will be in the daytime again.

But the main point of my post, is to wonder out loud about the increase in people asking me to do private coaching. I am not hanging out a VO Coach sign, and in fact, after my recent website redesign, I don’t think I even have the paragraph that talks about coaching (I’ll have to look for it). But somehow, the calls keep coming in.

Perhaps what started this increase in calls was VOICE 2007, where I was a featured speaker – 3 hours on Self-Evaluation. Then I did a couple of podcasts for Voiceover Experts. About year later I marketed my VOICE 2007 talk for a few weeks before coming to the conclusion that I really didn’t want to market myself as a coach. I wanted to do voiceover work (and have some time to play!).

When the call for presenters came out for VOICE 2010, I got the idea that I could do a shorter version of my VOICE 2007 presentation and let Jim and Penny know. They thought that was a great idea and the contract came in with all of the valuable considerations that a presenter would receive. After reading through the material, it sunk in that I really didn’t want to market myself as a coach, that I didn’t have a book to sell, or a seminar to fill.

But giving the presentation is such wonderful fun! We voiceover people these days spend so much time in a vacuum that the feedback from a live presentation is an energy boost. Talk about a catch 22. I want to do it, but I don’t want the phone to start ringing with people asking for private coaching. So, for the time being, it looks like I am a back up presenter if someone falls through.

Bottom-line for me. I enjoy teaching my class at City College – I learn so much each semester and get better at my real job – that of a voiceover talent.

August 25, 2009

School’s Back in Session – Let the Learning Commence

Filed under: Teaching — Tags: , , , — connieterwilliger @ 9:16 am

I teach a voice acting class at San Diego City College – just the one class, but carving out the 5 hours per week to get there gets difficult at times – especially since it usually meets mid-morning to around noon. This semester though, for the first time, it is being offered in the evenings from 6PM to 8:30PM. This pleased my local agent who has had to work around my “teaching” time since 1999.

The first day of classes was last night and the first thing I noticed is that it is a heck of a lot easier to park! And it is another huge class – with the budget cuts reducing the total number of classes offered and more people wanting to take classes, most classes are full with wait lists. I think I managed to accomodate everyone, but will be crossing my fingers for some drops in the next few weeks.

There are several reasons I continue to work this class into my schedule. Of course I get paid to teach, but there are two reasons that are actually more important.

I get to entertain a live audience. When you spend so much time working by yourself in a small padded room, it is fun to be in a room full to people hanging on your every word. But, probably the most important reason (a reason that I wasn’t really aware of until a couple of semesters into the job), is that I learn from my students and my acting skills grow with each class I teach.

So, let the learning commence!

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