Spokesperson Coaching

Are you the spokesperson for your company?

If not, why not?

Afraid to speak in front of crowds, large or small, or worse… get in front of a microphone and read your commercial?

We can help, especially with that last one, with Five Keys to Curing Spokesperson Stage Fright.

First, a little confidence booster.  As a creative director, voice talent, producer, and talent coach for over three decades, I’ve written or produced well over 50,000 commercials.  Working directly with business managers, leaders, and owners, I’ve seen them go from shy, quiet, nervous, even shaky copy “readers” to calm, assertive, confident company spokespeople in less than an hour – and have a broadcast-ready commercial to show for their efforts.  More importantly, they became the vocal “face” of their brands, resulting in sales increases in the millions and double-digit year over year percentage sales increases.

Yet you’re thinking, “I don’t have the voice for it.  Shouldn’t I get a big, booming announcer voice to tell our story?”  You could, but think for a moment.  If you have great news to share with your neighbor, would he or she rather hear it from a friend like you… or somebody who does it for anybody who will pay for it?

As the Creative Director of a highly-rated major market radio station for nearly 25 years, our account reps would often ask that “Gilles” do it.  Problem is, with my voice on so many commercials, it made it harder for each advertiser to stand out – to sound different from the commercial that played just before or after theirs.  Buy this product, buy the next product, then the product after that!  It sounded like I couldn’t make up my mind on what to recommend.  Good thing I had 150+ character voices to change things up on occasion.

This is precisely why I’ve strongly encouraged business leaders, owners, managers, and entrepreneurs to consider being their company’s brand voice.  Here’s why: no matter how wonderful an announcer’s voice might be, if a businessperson like you can just come across as approachable, likeable, and essentially “neighborly,”  your credibility instantly leapfrogs over the paid professional.  It just takes some good coaching, a bit of practice, and simply focusing on my Five Keys to Curing Spokesperson Stage Fright:

1 – Smile.  You can literally “hear a smile” on the radio.  Sure, you’ll sound happier and friendlier to your customer, but just as important, by physically changing your expression to a smile, the tone of your voice – the midrange and treble frequencies – will come through more clearly and distinctly.  Try it yourself.  Read your copy with a frown or by barely moving your lips.  Then, switch to reading with a full-on smile.  Hear the difference?  Your message goes from like a mumbled ransom note you’re reading for your captors against your will – to a clear, friendly invitation!

2 – Speak up.  Perhaps you’ve heard of the success of the moving company, Two Men and a Truck.  I love their set of Core Values, in particular, The Grandma Rule: Treat everyone as if they were your own grandmother.  Our world would be a better place.  For years, I’ve used a similar word picture for reading copy.  Speak up as if you were talking to your own grandmother.  Both my grandmothers, Helen and Laverne, were a bit hard of hearing, so when we spoke to them, we’d talk just bit louder than our normal voice – but without SHOUTING.  Combined with that smile, speaking up just a bit more makes for a better recording experience.  The microphone doesn’t have to be turned up and all that background noise in the room (computers whirring, ventilation systems blowing, etc.) gets ignored by the microphone and the processing that seeks out sound.  Meanwhile, you sound friendly and authoritative.

3 – Speak from the heart.  This is where we forget about reading and focus on connecting to the listener.  Picture this: speaking ever so clearly and distinctly so as to convey to the listener the precise message you are endeavoring to communicate.  Doesn’t sound real friendly, does it?  That’s because you’re “announcing” information, not talking.  If at all possible, put the script down and say what’s on your mind.  Here’s a tip: do it sentence by sentence.  Look at the words, put the script down, and tell it to the person next to you or the engineer running the equipment.  These days, it’s takes only a minute or two to put all your lines together into one continuously flowing message.  The result: you sound like a natural – just as if that listener was talking to you in person.

4 – Tell your story.  Someday soon, I look forward to reading stories to my grandkids.  With 150-plus character voices to use, it should be a lot of fun for both of us.  Still, when reading to kids, they get so much more out of it – they hang on your every word – if you read with passion, enthusiasm, emotion, and excitement.  You don’t just read the words, accurately and correctly… you use your voice to lead them through all the twists, turns, ups, and downs, so they can’t wait for you to tell them another story.  Now, try using the same mindset when “reading” your message to your listeners.  It may feel a bit over the top at first, but with practice, it will sound like you care about your customers and are passionate to solve their problems.

5 – Relax. The greatest fear I’ve seen comes from worrying about making mistakes – as if every person who’s come before has no problem reading a script start to finish with no mistakes, trips, slips, or stumbles.  This is what I tell every client I’ve ever worked with: I record and average of 2,000 to 2,500 commercials every year.  Of those, the number that I get through – start to finish – with no mistakes is about three.  Then I make a promise to them.  If they can get through their spot – start to finish – with no mistakes, I will let them come do my job and I will go and try to do their job.  That usually gets a laugh…and then a sigh of relief.  Then we get down to business and make a really great message.  Sure, it may take a little editing, but that’s to be expected – even from those who voice thousands of spots a year.

Ready to record your next commercial – or your first one?  Great!  Comforted, but still could use a little coaching?  Feel free to use the contact page at http://madbrama.com, and we’ll find a way to may it happen.