top of page

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.

Anne: So Kesha, where do you stand on the lead-in? So if you have, let’s say, I’m gonna say a commercial or any — I think a lot of times, when they say “we want conversational,” a lot of commercial auditions, people lead in to get themselves into a conversational mode. What do you do? Do you leave it in your audition? Do you lead in and then take out?

Kesha: Oh no. I always take it out. And even with the slate, you got to think, again in my head, I’m like, ok, well basically a slate is an introduction. I create this visual in my mind, like I’m literally introducing myself to someone. I see myself walking up to you, extending my hand for a handshake and saying, “hi. How you doin’? My name is Kesha Monk.”

Anne: And I love that you said that, because that’s exactly what I tell students when they’re — you know, a lot of times with, it could be e-learning material, when it’s like, you know, “welcome to this course module,” or “hi, I’m so-and-so,” it’s the most difficult thing to sound conversational when it’s like “hello, thank you.” [laughs] You know? And so I love the fact that you extend your hand. Because I always tell people, when you’re gonna say “hi, I’m so-and-so, and thanks for, you know, whatever,” you want to extend your arm out as if you’re going to the door to open it, and then welcome them into the room. And that’s exactly what I do as well. And —

Kesha: Oh my God, it works.

Anne: — I will say — it works — but sometimes it’s still hard. You would think of all these years, Kesha, of me extending my hand [laughs] and saying, and I don’t want it to sound like “Anne Ganguzza,” which is, you know — I want it to sound more — you want to be welcoming. You want to be gracious and warm. And “Anne Ganguzza,” that sort of thing.

Kesha: That’s exactly why I’m stressing to create the visual in your mind.

Anne: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Kesha: Don’t make it — Just don’t make it verbal. Make it physical. Literally close your eyes and visualize what you are doing. I literally close my eyes, see myself walking up to someone, and extending my hand. “How are you? I’m Kesha Monk.” And let me tell you —

Anne: Are you saying that too, and then taking it out?

Kesha: Yeah, I say the whole thing.

Anne: “Hi, I’m… Kesha Monk,” and you just give it a beat before you say Kesha Monk?

Kesha: I don’t even give, I don’t give — well, I don’t give it too much of a beat, because I want it to be as natural as possible, but I do that. I might even have a whole 30-second conversation. If I feel like it doesn’t sound right, I will literally talk to myself into it. Like “Oh my God, I was walking down the street one day. I wanted that Hubba Bubba. Remember Hubba Bubba from back in the day? Oh girl, how you doin’? I’m Kesha Monk.” And it comes out perfectly.

Anne: I like that you said you have to lead — you do. Sometimes you have to lead into it with a lot of, a lot of like scene. [laughs]

Kesha: Chatter.

Anne: A lot of chatter because sometimes you just get yourself in that mode, I’m auditioning. I’m auditioning. It’s one after the other. And it’s like, Kesha Monk. No, that doesn’t sound genuine and conversational and welcoming, because you just go into that read mode. And so yeah, you do have to get yourself in that conversation mode.

Kesha: I literally had an agent once who told me, because I wasn’t really booking with her. And I asked her, and she was like “be honest with you, I think it’s your slate. Your slate sounds too formal.” Yeah, and I swear, as soon as I changed my, you know, I created that visual, and changed the tone of my slate, I started booking. True story. True story.

Anne: Wow.

Kesha: I still have the email, if you want to see it. I kept it because, again it was something I made a conscious decision to change my behaviors, and I did it, and it literally worked. So yeah, yeah. You gotta, gotta keep that visual in your head.

Anne: So let me ask you then. So part of the debate on the group was between, and this was between agents, was if you lead in, or maybe you should only lead in with, with a, a real person kind of read, and then leave it, because it makes your audition stand out. Have you ever done that?

Kesha: Well, wait a minute, rephrase. I… rephrase that.

Anne: Ok. So if it’s a commercial audition, and they want a real person read, and it’s a dialogue. Let’s say the conversation is a dialogue. And you know, a lot of times people will say “so hey, so anyway, Anne,” and they’ll launch into it after the “so,” or there’s a very typical tendency to do something like, “so Anne,” you know bla-bla-bla-bla-bla. And so what the comment was, and this was from Mary Lynn Wissner, who I absolutely love, if it’s a real person read, make that lead-in very creative and nothing like “so Anne,” or something, you know, that’s very typical.

Kesha: Right.

Anne: Make it super original —

Kesha: Yeah.

Anne: — and leave that in, because that’s gonna make your auditions stand out. And then we had other people who were saying, if it’s not being asked for, why do we do it? Well, you want to make sure that people are listening and you’re standing out.

Kesha: My thing is I’m not, I’m not that bold yet, not when it comes to, you know, auditions that are being sent to me by my agents. Whenever I have auditions from my agents, I follow instructions to the T. Now if, if it’s, if it’s, you know, if someone is just randomly asking you, asking me to do an audition through my website, yeah, there’s room to be a little bit more creative. But not, I personally haven’t, and I would kind of advise against that. Because again remember just a couple of minutes ago, when it comes to being shortlisted, you want to be on that list and be considered to be the one who follows instructions. And although it may, you know, although it may be different and it may sound cool, I just, I’m not, I just, I wouldn’t do that.

Anne: And again, you know what was always so interesting to me, when I really sat down and thought about it, it really, truly — like, I guess I never thought about when I was auditioning — for whatever reason, I thought, you know, I would be auditioning for, maybe it was a McDonald’s commercial. And I thought, “oh ok, this is gonna go to McDonald’s people. They’re gonna listen to it.” In reality that’s not the case. It’s going to your agent first, who’s gonna then shortlist it. So that relationship with your agent is so important that you at least have enough of a relationship, or you’ve tried to have as much of a relationship, so that you know what type of a, you know, slate or not slate or tail slate or whatever, whatever it is, what they like and what they prefer. Because right now, you want to impress them when you’re auditioned, because they’re gonna put you on the shortlist, and then that shortlist is gonna go to the client. And so I think if you’re really, now that I think of it like that, it’s easier because we can all have a relationship with our agent, and we all should. If you are not, if you’ve not tried to pick up the phone and call your agent, I’m gonna tell you something: try it. [laughs]

Kesha: Yeah, exactly. You must humanize your relationship with your agent. It’s very, very important.

Anne: Yeah.

Kesha: And it will make the difference.

Anne: So Kesha, one or two, one or two takes on your auditions?

Kesha: Hmm.

[both laugh]

Anne: Now there’s, that’s another school of thought. You know, it used to be only one, do your best take. And then I kept hearing do two takes, but make your takes very different.

Kesha: You know what I’ll do? And this is just personal. There are no written rules. If it’s an audition where I’m only reading a sentence or two, then I’ll do two takes. If it’s something that’s a little bit longer, I’ll just do one. Because again in my mind, I cannot be the only one who’s auditioning for this spot. If they’re listening to 75 auditions, they might not — I might do something screwing, yeah, I might screw something up within the first sentence. If I do that, they’re not gonna listen to the rest of the 45 seconds. So yeah, I just, I just really, simple works with me.

Anne: I agree, I agree.

Kesha: One take.

Anne: If it’s shorter, it’s one take for me.

Kesha: Again if they’re asking for two takes —

Anne: Or two takes if it’s shorter, two takes for me, but they have to be completely different, and it can’t just be a change in pitch. It has to be something completely different. And so I always try to think of a different emotion or a different scene that I’m reacting to to give myself —

Kesha: Different cadence —

Anne: Yeah, a very —

Kesha: Different rhythm.

Anne: Cadence, rhythm, a very different second take. So yeah. And I — now the other question I’m going to ask is some auditions are really long. [laughs] And always when I get those really long ones, I, to me, I mean personally, I’m like, “really? do I have to do the whole thing?” Do you do everything that your agent sends you? Like if, what if it’s two pages of copy? Are you doing it?

Kesha: Again if it’s my agent, I do whatever my agent tells me to do.

Anne: If they don’t specifically say the whole thing or not the whole thing. They just give you the paper. Because sometimes, I was like — or for years, I was like, “oh my God, am I supposed to do the whole thing?” And so after a while —

Kesha: You have to be careful though, Anne. Especially again if I receive auditions that are not coming from my agent — you know, because my agent is my rep, and my rep is not going to put me in a precarious situation. If it’s a little bit longer and it’s coming from my agent, I read the whole thing. If it’s coming, if I’m getting a random email from somebody on my website, and they give me this two page thing to do, never. Because that could be the whole doggone thing, and they could use it.

Anne: Well, exactly.

Kesha: You never know.

Anne: That’s true.

Kesha: So I give them a little taste. I give them the appetizer. If they want the full meal, well, you gotta wine me and dine me in order to get the whole package, baby.

Anne: [laughs] I totally agree with you. So if it’s coming from an agent, yes, I do it. And sometimes though I really am like, “really? They need the whole thing?” There are some of my agents that will be like, “look, you only need to read the first paragraph,” which I’m always appreciative of. But if there are no instructions and it comes from your agent, I’m just gonna say know your agent and do the whole thing for your agent. If it comes from any other place, like somebody requesting off your website or maybe a pay-to-play, then I absolutely would not do the entire thing —

Kesha: Definitely not.

Anne: — because it’s just harder to keep track of. I mean your agent is there because they have your back, right? That’s one of the wonderful, wonderful advantages of having the agent, that they negotiate and that they have your back.

Kesha: They alleviate that headache and the stress, so yeah, for sure, for sure.

Anne: It was interesting to talk to you to see what your reaction is and how you do — I think we pretty much do things very similarly, and you know, I think, BOSSes out there, the best thing you can do is really pay attention to the directions, k now your agent, and just accommodate. I mean, you are working with your agent as a team.

Kesha: Yes.

Anne: Do whatever you can [laughs] to accommodate and make your auditions stand out.

Kesha: That’s right, and when it starts with that slate, you better think about it. Think about it.

Anne: That’s right. Extend your hand.

Kesha: Extend your hand, get physical with it, and create that visual in your mind.

Anne: Yes. Awesome. Good stuff, Kesha, girl. Alright BOSSes. I’m gonna give a big shout-out to my sponsor, ipDTL. You too can connect and network like a BOSS. Find out more at You guys, have an amazing week. And go out there and just create that amazing first impression and go get that gig.

Kesha: Yeah!

Anne: Yeah! Alright, have a great week, guys. See you next week. Bye-bye.

Kesha: Bye!

>> Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host Anne Ganguzza. And take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast to Coast connectivity via ipDTL.