Telephony, or the real thing?

Sorry, but I couldn’t resist the ridiculous title – the “real thing” part, that is.  It’s been a while since my last post, so a bad pun was inevitable.

I recently was hired for a job that involved on-hold messaging for a dental office specializing in implants.  It was quite interesting, there were a few pronunciations I had to learn, and it was a bit more involved than I originally thought, but I believe the client is happy with the results I provided.

I had done a job for a client last year recording a system of generic voice mail prompts for a presentation, and that gave me a good taste of what telephony voiceover work was like.

Our local Meet-up group hosted by Ron Allan (Voiceover Pros of Central OH) held its monthly meeting earlier this week.  One of presentations was by Ron giving us an update on the subject of telephony.  After we had some fun with Ron by pronouncing “telephony” wrong, he gave us a refresher on the more common forms that it can take – regular voice mail greetings, on-hold messaging, IVR automatic response – and a few less-common forms.  He reminded us how prevalent voice mail and IVR systems are in businesses, how many business there are in the U.S., and how many potential VO opportunities this means for voice artists.

I appreciated the reminder, because there are certainly a plethora of businesses who also have telephones, the vast majority of which usually have some sort of voice mail or answering machine after hours. 

I remember buying my first telephone answering machine 30 years ago.  It used two cassette tapes, one for recording the greeting and another to record the caller messages.  When I brought it home and opened the box, I started playing around while recording the greeting, manually adding sound effects and song lyrics by playing records on my stereo loud enough to be caught on the cassette tape.  The quality was horrible, my editing and production very cheesy, but it was fun.  Back then folks I knew were experimenting with “cute” answering machine greetings.  I had my cute greeting on the machine for a few months, then replaced it with a more standard greeting.

(You younger folks may need to ask your parents what “record”,  “cassette tape”, and “stereo” are – just kidding!)

Come to think of it, I got my first telephony voiceover job some time in the late 1990’s, even though it was related to my job with the Postal Service – actually for the main post office in Columbus.  The marketing folks there knew I had a decent voice, so they asked me to record all new prompts for the informational hotline for customers who wanted to apply for passports.

At the time we used a PBX system with an internal voice mail system built-in.  The IT person gave me a temporary authorization and instructions to access the admin portion of the VM system for the hotline number.  The instructions and scripts were easy to follow, but it turned out to be a bit more tedious than I had thought.  I came in on a Saturday morning, and painstakingly recorded all of the prompts on the sheet I was given (“to find out what hours you can apply, press 4 – for a list of offices that accept applications, press 5 – etc.”).

Did I say painstaking?  It was like trying to solve a maze, and making sure you traced all the possible paths you could take.  But when it was done a few hours later, I could call the initial hotline and get a kick out of listening to myself.  And it was cool to have friends and acquaintances tell me they heard my voice when they were calling to apply for a passport.

I dare say telephony systems today are more sophisticated.  Ron Allan told us that modern software allows the system owner to take the various mp3 files from a voice artist, load them into the software app, and it automatically sets up the messaging “tree”.

In any case, there are VO work opportunities to be had out there.  All we have to do is talk to someone at that business and make a good “business” case as to why they should hire us to give life to their phone messaging system.

How about you readers?  What experiences have you had recording for a telephony client, good or bad?  I’d love to hear from you, just click on the “Leave A Comment” link at the top and share your thoughts.

(NOTE:  Serious replies only, please – NO spam and advertising messages, those WILL be terminated with extreme prejudice)

That’s all for now.  Until next time, reach out and touch someone who is a potential telephony client, and keep your best voice forward.  Those businesses will thank you!

Take care.

   -Z-