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Things to Live By When Dealing With A Difficult Client

Many years ago, when directing a VO, I had a group of clients behind me. From both sides of the glass, you always put your hands together and hope for “Easy Client”. Well, this was not one of those days! This guy came in making everyone wrong – “The coffee is too strong. How do you guys sit in these chairs all day! Who exactly got this guy for the VO?” One cringe-worthy statement after another filled the room. I could handle it with a smile and a nod and a loud post-session scream in my car, but I did not want it to get into the booth with the Voice Talent.

We’ve all been there with difficult clients. The cursed few whom immediately have the power to throw you off your game. Those that make you grateful you are inside of your own booth so they can’t see your eyes rolling out of your head. We don’t know why they are doing it, but we know that sometimes it’s enough to ruffle our feathers.

We asked three VO Pros, who are also Coaches on our Roster, how they handle these times. Here’s what they said:

What is your rule/rules when working with a difficult client OR client that is hard to read during a session?

Tom Dheere:

I have three rules: 

  1. Communication

  2. Communication

  3. Communication

Good Voice Actors are good listeners. Good listeners ask good questions. Good questions eliminate guesswork and foster good communication. If a client is being difficult or hard to read, ask them about outside pressures about the budget or the deadline. Ask specific questions about the message, the target demographic, the culture of the company, anything to loosen them up and share information which can inform your read and assure them that you’re on the same team. Be a problem-solver. Be an asset. Demonstrate your value not just as a voice actor but as a person! Alyson Steel:

Thankfully it’s rare. I take control of the session in a sense and let them feel as though they are in control. I also just do what I am told - take the direction and suck it up and move on. Christa Lewis:

I keep it very simple. I don’t talk back or engage with the negativity - I literally roll with all their notes and/or snarky criticism, or whatever weirdness is happening (this is so rare, but it does happen once in a while). Then, when they have a take they're good with, I take a minute to make sure I’m ok with the work. If I can live with it, I thank them and let it go. If I hate it, I ask them if they have a moment for one last take - a “safety.” They almost always say yes. Then I give them my best shot. 9 times out of 10 that’s the one they roll with. Then I say thank you and let it go - feeling MUCH better.

Purchase One-On-One Online Voice Over Coaching Sessions with TOM DHEERE, ALYSON STEEL and CHRISTA LEWIS by visiting FIND YOUR COACH on!

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