First Impressions

with Kesha Monk

To slate or not to slate … that is the question. In this episode in the Entrepreneur Hustle Series, Anne and special guest co-host Kesha Monk talk first impressions. Find out the simple things that could knock you out of the running for a job. Learn from Anne and Kesha’s experiences about customizing auditions and standing out for the right reasons to land on the shortlist


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. There are no hard and fast rules about if you should slate, or not slate

  2. Traditionally, slating your name was always done

  3. Slating is not always asked for or wanted in today’s VO landscape

  4. Not slating has become more common with today’s auditions

  5. Follow all instructions EXACTLY!

  6. If a slate is required, generally, it’s just your name, and sometimes the character name

  7. Know what your agent wants and make sure you pay attention to their practices and standards

  8. Make a concentrated effort to have a relationship with your agent

  9. Your agent is typically the one who puts you on the shortlist

  10. If you’re not sure, you can always ask for clarification

  11. When you slate, imagine you are walking up to someone in person, extend your hand, and introduce yourself

  12. You can record the “lead-in” to the slate as well “Hi, how ya doing I’m Kesha Monk”, and then you cut out everything before the name

  13. If you record a lead-in for your audition, most often you should take this out

  14. Make a good first impression from your very first words, even if it is your slate

  15. If you give a second take, it must be distinct. A different cadence or emotion

  16. If it’s a long audition, don’t record the whole script unless it comes from a trusted source

  17. Pay attention to the directions, know your agent and accommodate them 

  18. Work with your agent as a team 

  19. Do whatever you can to accommodate and make your audition stand out

  20. Get physical with your slate, physically reach out your hand in your booth and introduce yourself

  21. Create an amazing first impression and go get that gig 

Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

Recorded on ipDTL


>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premiere Business Owner Strategies and Successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a boss, a VO BOSS! Now let’s welcome your host, Anne Ganguzza.

Anne: Hey, BOSSes, welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my beautiful, very special guest co-host Kesha Monk. Hey Kesha.

Kesha: How’s it goin’, darling?

Anne: So Kesha.

Kesha: Yes?

Anne: I read some very interesting, a very interesting thread on the Facebook, I’m gonna call it the Facebook groups, this week about slating in your auditions and first impressions. And you know, should you slate in the beginning, should you lead in in the beginning? What sort of things should you do to capture the attention of that casting director? And should you, shouldn’t you, what do you think about — let’s talk about slating.

Kesha: Well, this is gonna be interesting because I don’t know if there are any rules. But you know, you know what you’re talking about. Maybe I can learn something from this ‘cast. So let’s talk about it.

Anne: [laughs] Well, there’s no hard and fast rules really. There’s just traditions, right, and what people typically have done in the past, and what we kind of discuss amongst ourselves as time evolves. I think in the beginning, it was always slate. I think it was always slate your name in the beginning. And at one point I think it was slate in the character that you were going to be.

Kesha: Mmm yeah.

Anne: You know? But that has kind of changed these past, I would say, these past few years. I’ve heard different opinions on whether you should slate.

Kesha: Let me, let me ask you something then, because I never slate unless they tell me to.

Anne: See, now that, I — you know what? I think that lately that’s kind of been my go-to as well, because I, I think some people would say, you know what? Don’t waste the casting director’s time. Just go right in with the read. They don’t want to hear your life story in the beginning. They don’t necessarily need to hear your name because you know, your file name has your name in it. And for a long time though, I, I did slate because that was kind of what everybody, everybody said to do. But it was never really known to me. What really should I do? I heard different things from different agents. I like that you don’t slate unless it’s specifically mentioned. But I would say that everybody needs to read the specs so carefully. And I know this, gosh, we go over this so many times. When you’re auditioning, like you have to read the specs carefully, you have to read how to name that file carefully, you have to read. Usually within that file they’ll tell you if they want a slate or not. And they’ll tell you if they want one take or two takes.

Kesha: And something as simple as like putting an extra space or not putting an underscore could elim — could potentially, literally eliminate yourself from a possible position. So yes, you have to pay attention especially to those labeling instructions. But slating though. Now again, I, I just…hmmm. Voiceover is very mental to me. Like in other words, it’s, I try to create a visual in my mind, Anne, of the fact that I’m just not the only one that’s auditioning for this potential job, right?

Anne: Sure, absolutely.

Kesha: And so making an impressive first impression is very, very important. Now again if the instructions say to slate, then I will, and hopefully we’ll have time to talk about how to slate.

Anne: Well, I was just gonna ask you, what tone of slate? Are you slating in Kesha [laughs], in in Kesha, you know, in Kesha’s voice —

Kesha: Right.

Anne: — or are you slating in a character voice, are you slating how you think they want the spot to go, so you’re leading into the spot?

Kesha: And here are, again, I’m adhering to a set of unwritten rules. I simply say my name. If it is something crazy, like for a cartoon, then I may slate in that character’s voice. But for the first, for initial act, I would say 90% of the time that I’m auditioning for these regular commercial spots, I’m just saying Kesha. If they want me to act like an 80-year-old woman, I’ll just, I’ll “Kesha Monk,” and then that’s what I’ll do.

Anne: And then you’ll go into the 80-year-old woman? Or will you say “Kesha Monk” as an 80-year-old woman?

Kesha: No, just the name. They don’t have that kind of time. They just don’t.

Anne: I tend to agree. Well, I tend to agree with you there, but I meant, do you slate your name in the character’s, like do you say “Kesha Monk” as an 80-year-old woman? [does so] “Kesha Monk.”

Kesha: Oh you mean that. No, no, no.

Anne: When you say —

Kesha: No. I generally don’t. And again —

Anne: And that’s good. I think it shows a range if you don’t.

Kesha: Yeah!

Anne: It shows your real voice. “Hey, I’m Kesha,” and then boom, you go into your character.

Kesha: Exactly. To me, that shows that I am versatile. I mean I don’t know, in my mind. But again, I’ve never attended the school of slating. So this is just bas — I mean, I haven’t. And that’s crazy. It has been incredibly annoying to me when I go to like a voice conference, and then there’s this big spiel on slating. You’d think it’s really not a big deal, but to some, but it really is. It really is.

Anne: You know what? You hit the nail on the head right there. Because think of it. Who is it that you’re submitting the audition to, right? What, what are they used to, right? How, how would they like you to slate? And I think that, you’re usually submitting to your agent. I think it could even be agent specific as to how they like to hear it. Because when I’m auditioning for my agent, they typically get, I don’t know, hundreds of auditions, however many they get. They’re the ones that are listening to it first to kind of shortlist that.

Kesha: Right.

Anne: And so I think it would behoove any of you BOSSes out there, if you are continually auditioning for a particular agent, just to kind of understand what their preferred method is. Are you going to front slate? Also there’s a back slate. I’ve slated, you know, at the very end. And how do you, how do you determine, or do you tell them if you’re gonna have two takes? And then the other, other thing that people have been talking about lately, do you actually lead in and leave the lead-in? There are some casting directors that like that, because they say oh, it makes you stand out more. If I’m gonna lead in to be conversational, that might make my audition stand out from 200 others that don’t do that.

Kesha: For sure. For sure. So don’t be afraid to ask, you know, whoever you’re auditioning for, I would say as well if it’s unclear. I would just ask, you know.

Anne: And make sure, make sure that it’s not written in the specs. It’s interesting because I, I know, I have one agent who has a particular way that they like me to name the file. But then if the audition comes in, a lot of times the client is specifying how they want the file to be named. And so if I don’t, and that’s always, for whatever reason they put it in the smallest, finest print at the bottom of the page. [laughs] And one, every once in while I’ll get something back that says “you didn’t name the file properly.” I’m like oops. You have to make sure —

Kesha: You’re lucky they got back to you and said that. Because I know a lot of instances, and you have to really realize that these agents are busy, and they may not necessarily have time to personally coddle you. You know how you solve that problem? Read the instructions carefully and pay close attention.

Anne: Cannot stress that enough. And interestingly enough last year when I had Liz Atherton in my agent series on the podcast, you guys, it was a fun series, we actually cast a job and gave out prizes at the end. And so we had a number of people who responded. And we had instructions on how to name the file and how to slate and give us two takes. And so there were so many people, there was a lot of people that didn’t read the instructions. And it, it absolutely made a difference in terms of whether or not they got shortlisted. And I think, you know, at first it came down to, is it the voice and the style that we’re looking for? And then after that, if you had to really figure out, like if it was a close tie [laughs] in your head between two people, it would be the person that named their file correctly, or did the instructions, or correctly, you know, performed and named the file properly and did everything as they were told. They were the ones that won out.

Kesha: There you go. They’re the ones that would get it. That is for sure. That is for sure.