I take it back: I HAVE got Imposter Syndrome

by Sarah Lockett on September 26, 2020

I recently did a blog saying I didn’t have Imposter Syndrome, because somewhere along the line, I’d realised that if people keep paying me to do something, I must be OK. That was the gist of it anyway.

But I have recently been picked to do a job that I actually have no training for – and I think I might be terrible! But I do enjoy doing it, and I did send in a sample of my work, and they still picked me, so *shrug emoji* maybe I’ll be OK.

Sarah in a period drama – an acting role

Right back to when I was in my 20s, I took the view that if I thought I could do the work, I would fake it and go in, all-guns-blazing, and have a go. I wouldn’t pretend to be a concert pianist or a brain surgeon, of course. And I wouldn’t volunteer to run a marathon (like the 2002 Big Brother contestant Jade Goody, bless her, RIP, who ran the 2007 London Marathon for charity with hardly any training, and had to be taken to hospital with exhaustion…). But if I saw someone else doing, say, live radio/TV News reporting from outside the High Court, and I thought I could do it, I’d put myself forward. That’s pretty much been my attitude for my whole working life. And, of course, I have backed it up with doing loads of preparation, research, rehearsals, dry-runs etc. And it seems to have worked out OK.

If, on the day, I am rubbish and sacked, then I will cope. But I genuinely think it’ll be fine, and I won’t be bored. I will be stretching myself, learning something new, challenging myself and moving forwards, not stultifying.

Sometimes I have a little moan that, being freelance, every few months/weeks I have to do something completely new, with new clients/colleagues, who I don’t know, and I have to make it work. What I would advise in these situations (to myself as much as anyone) is: don’t be annoyingly arrogant/over-confident but also, don’t over-doubt yourself and demand too much reassurance/praise from the people around you. As one of my mentors once said, “Just do the job, and go home”. It can be natural, in the “performance”-type jobs that I do, to want some praise/feedback, but – unless you’re dreadful – mostly people will just say, “Great, thanks,” and move on. To the next project, the next deadline, the next client call that has to be done.

So, unless you hear otherwise, assume you were fine.

10¢ a word for voiceover?

by Sarah Lockett on September 16, 2020

I was recently offered 10 cents a word for recording voiceover dialogue/narration in my home studio. This could be quite a good rate (I have been paid more though). It works out at $100 for 1,000 words. Now, if I don’t have to edit the copy, then that might take me less that 2 hours (with all the faffing/getting the microphone/pop-shield set up, plus editing the audio and creating/sending/uploading the file. So I said yes. But I am assuming I will have to do some copy-editing because the client is overseas and their English might not be perfect (on the other hand, it might be fantastic, so I don’t want to pre-judge them).

Microphone, Sarah Lockett
Microphone, Sarah Lockett

The point is: I am working with a new client for a new rate/fee-structure, and may have to learn some new skills: I might have to lip-sync to video, or time my voiceover to fit with the original video (if it’s in another language). But in COVID-times, we creatives are having to branch out. Most of the media training is cancelled (not all, some is coming back, and some has gone online), most of the acting is cancelled (again, some filming has started, but there’s huge competition for the work – although most agencies are not using the over 70s… *no, I am not over 70).

But I am plugging away, looking for other sources of work, other revenue streams, and shifting my main work to delivering it remotely (Presentation Training, Media Training). And doing things which are nothing to do with work – feeding my family while they work from home, going to yoga, reconnecting with old friends. We have good weeks and bad weeks.

It’s slightly irksome when people speak about lockdown being over. Yes, the schools are back and the universities are back. The government is encouraging us to go back on public transport – but a lot of industries aren’t back, to the same extent. I know some people whose bosses are talking about going back in August NEXT YEAR. Offices build for 2,000 people have a rule that only 42 people may be in at any one time. My husband went into his office to get some papers – and it was him and the security guard. It’s going to be a long road.

Final thought (in my slightly rambling post, sorry): some of us have had to branch out, look further afield, work for less money or change direction entirely. Just hold the line, keep going, keep faith and hope for the best.

Get in touch : info@sarahlockett.co.uk

Voiceover accents – cultural appropriation?

by Sarah Lockett on August 7, 2020

The elder daughter is up in arms because I have sent in a demo of a “Middle Eastern” accent for a v/o job, and I am not Middle Eastern. “It’s cultural appropriation! There are loads of Middle Eastern people who’d LOVE that work!”

Well yes, and they are welcome to apply for it. But if I get the job, then I get the job 🙂

Microphone, Sarah Lockett
Microphone, Sarah Lockett

I am also not American (but I have done American dialogue in an upcoming Hollywood film), I am not Cockney (but I have done dialogue as an outraged Londoner), and I am not sultry, but I have done dialogue in the style of the old M&S food-porn ads (“oozing with rich chocolate sauce, smothered in whipped cream” etc).

I am happy to be proved wrong. I looked on YouTube for tutorials on how to do Arab accents, and everyone doing them was Arab. Soo, maybe I am out of line. I know some actors (Miriam Margoyles in particular) specialise in accents and dialects – and they put in hours of special training before each role. But the rest of us are just bluffing it. Hey, if they think I am rubbish, they won’t give me the job, and I am fine with that.

Equally, I have recently gone for a role as an opera singer (I have been having opera singing lessons from an actual opera singer for 4 months now – my #LockdownActivity). It’s only for a TV ad, so I don’t have to sing a whole aria/Wagner’s The Ring (17 hours!) – I will just have to do a burst for under a minute, I reckon. Is this swindling an actual opera singer out of the work? Well, you can go down a rabbit hole thinking like this. If I get it, I was obviously considered to be the best person for the job, on balance (and cost comes into the balance – an actual opera singer will be £££).

Anyway I would be interested to hear your views. In this “new normal” I am not over-burdened with work, so I might as well go for jobs that interest me, and that I can record from home (in my home studio, for the v/o work). And “If you don’t ask, you don’t get” – I might just be the most suitable person on the day, and get the gig.

Get in touch for media training/other communications/presentation training, delivered via MS Teams. e: info@sarahlockett.co.uk

In #lockdown, a lot of people are podcasting, video podcasting, hosting webinars/guesting on webinars, vlogging, hosting online masterclasses, and interviewing other people to add value to those masterclasses (colleagues/contacts/experts etc). We’ve all become interviewers (and presenters, but that’s another blog…).

But, can we all BE GOOD INTERVIEWERS? It’s just asking questions, right? And hopefully listening to the answers. So – we just need to be able to (1) speak, (2) listen, and (3) say goodbye at the end?

Sarah Lockett interviewing at ITN
Sarah Lockett interviewing, ITN

Well, there’s a bit more to it than that. And I don’t mean to say that only trained/experienced broadcasters like myself can do it. It just takes a bit of training, practice and knowhow. There are rules, techniques, habits that work – and those that don’t.

I have recently been delivering my updated “Interviewing Skills” training courses (online). They’re one-to-one sessions, with a really valuable interactive element: the trainee interviews me (! which makes a change, as I usually do the interviewing) and we playback/feedback. Depending on what the trainee needs, I pretend to be really dull and long-winded (I know, hard to believe) and they have to zhuzh/sparkle me up, by what they say. And they need to interrupt (in a nice way) to stop me from droning on.

I see the internet defines ‘good listeners’ as:

  • They’re fully present. …
  • They don’t listen to respond. …
  • They react in the moment. …
  • They don’t have an agenda. …
  • They don’t jump to give advice. …
  • They never interrupt. ..

But of course – we’re not there just to listen. This isn’t therapy. We have to shape the discussion, keep it on track, keep it moving, stop it stultifying – and keep it interesting for the viewer/listener.

There’s LOTS to say about being a good interviewer. Get in touch to book a one-to-one session (via MS Teams). info@sarahlockett.co.uk