How to sound your best on a podcast, with VO Superhero Bonnie Williams

VO Superhero Bonnie Williams is a professional voiceover artist, so it’s safe to say she knows a thing or two about what can make—or break—a great voice. On this episode, Jason and Cee Cee talk with Bonnie about tips and tricks for the best vocal quality on a podcast recording.

Earfluence Podcast - VO Superhero

Transcript

Jason Gillikin: Welcome to the Earfluence podcast, which is a podcast about podcasting from a podcast production company. I’m Jason Gillikin, CEO of Earfluence, and with me as always is Cee Cee Huffman, do-er of all things at Earfluence, including making amazing artwork for our shows that are coming up. Cee Cee how’s it going?

Cee Cee Huffman: I’m good. I’m good. Thank you very much. Before this job, I did not really consider myself much of a graphic designer, but that has become a major part about what I do now. So, I appreciate that.

Jason Gillikin: Oh, it was awesome. So I said, “Hey, we need to create artwork for this show, and maybe it could look like this,” and you’re like, “Boom, yeah, I could do that.” And all of a sudden, it looks amazing. So yeah, I appreciate that, and it will be a podcast that would come out early March. So can’t wait to share that, but we’ve got a couple of new ones that have come out recently that boy, I mean, things are happening right now. Like, there’s a couple that I want to talk about.

One is the content on the Quacks and Hypochondriacs podcast. If you’re listening to this and you haven’t listened to Quacks and Hypochondriacs yet, Dr. Bill Farro, Erin O’Hearn, they bring on experts in different fields that are applicable to everybody. And we’ve had on, uh, somebody in skincare talking about what toxins you’re putting on your skin, we’ve had somebody, uh, talking about trauma and big T traumas, little T traumas. We had somebody talking about COVID-19 and the, the relationship between COVID-19 and gut health. It was ridiculous content.

Cee Cee Huffman: Yeah, very cool and very relevant. All of it, very relevant right now for sure.

Jason Gillikin: Oh my gosh. Yeah. Um, and then another one we’ve gotten into higher education.

Yeah.

Cee Cee Huffman: I left higher education just to go back to working in higher education some more.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. So the NC State Poole College podcast, with Poole College of Management, we just launched their podcast this week with, um, uh, an episode from the Dean of the school, Dean Frank Buckless and Cindy Eckert, the Pink CEO who has had, Cee Cee, two exits for $1.5 billion combined. $1.5 billion.

Cee Cee Huffman: I know when I heard the “B,” I was like, “Oh?”

Jason Gillikin: Yeah.

Cee Cee Huffman: I can’t even fathom that much money. I don’t even know how many zeros that is.

Jason Gillikin: Unbelievable. So, go check out those podcasts. Uh, but today on this show, we’re not talking about our shows. We are talking about how you can sound amazing on your show.

So we have the, the VO superhero, the voiceover superhero with us, and her name is Bonnie Williams. Her branding is spectacular. Uh, really, uh, I wanted to bring her on the show just as an excuse to talk to her, and then I was -earlier this week, I was like, “Cee Cee, what should we talk to Bonnie about?”

And you’re like, “Duh. It’s about how to sound amazing on your podcast.”

Cee Cee Huffman: Right. There are a lot of things that I think people don’t think a lot about, and having done theater and audio journalism in college, like there are so many small things that can make you sound so much better and so many small things that can make you sound so much worse, too, so.

Jason Gillikin: Oh, all right. That’s a good one. All right, so let’s bring Bonnie on.

Hey Bonnie, how are you?

Bonnie Williams: I’m great. How are you?

Jason Gillikin: Great. You can tell I’m really excited to, uh, to talk to you today. Yeah.

Bonnie Williams: I love that introduction. I was like, “Can you just introduce me like that everywhere I go, because that was great.” Thank you.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. That’s -I can, but that’s your job! You’re the voiceover expert.

Bonnie Williams: Okay. Fine.

Jason Gillikin: We’re just here. Right? We’re just, we’re just making these podcasts and now we need to learn from you, like how can you sound amazing on a podcast because you are the VO superhero,

Cee Cee Huffman: Right. And your microphone right now is so good. I feel like you’re the voice inside my head.

Bonnie Williams: That’s my job!

Jason Gillikin: The voice inside your head. That’s amazing.

Bonnie Williams: That’s the goal, yeah. That’s kind of what I’m supposed to be. So, um, yeah, I just got this recently and it was kind of a gamble. I’ve heard- when you get any microphone, you may or may not know if it’s right for your voice the first time out, when you get it, it’s kind of like somebody described it, like the wands in Harry Potter.

Like they choose you, like it’s the right one and I’ve never forgotten that. But, my audio engineer, friends, they love it. And they said, it sounds good with my voice. So I said, “OK, I’m going to keep it.” And I’m really happy with it. So, I have that and I have a different microphone in here. That’s over this way, but I’ve been using this one a lot more so trying to not make the other one jealous.

Jason Gillikin: Wow. Awesome. So we’ll get into mics in just a minute. You can see in my background, well, if you’re listening to this, you can’t see it. But in my background, I’ve got a couple of mics there. One’s about $140. One’s about $50. And that’s, you know, good enough for us, but we’ll ask you in a little bit, you know, are there differences between $50 mics and $150 mics, $150 mics and $1,200 mics. But before we get to all that, Bonnie, and  sounding great on a podcast, I know a little bit about you. You’ve got a theater background, you’re a teacher, you actually teach VO, um, to, to kids and to adults. but just a quick background for you is how did you get into voiceover work?

Bonnie Williams: Yeah. So, I actually got into voiceover work through friends of mine that I met doing theater, and they said, “You know, you would be really good at this.”

And that’s kind of something to take with a grain of salt is when somebody says, “Oh, you have a great voice. You should do voiceover,” but are they in the voiceover industry or is it, you know, random person off the street?

Cee Cee Huffman: Right.

Bonnie Williams: So, yeah. So at some point it was one of my friends I did theater with and I was doing TV and film and I was really unhappy.

I was doing theater and I was really unhappy doing it professionally. And I was like, “Man, you know, what, what else can I do?” And I never really thought about it. And I had done voiceover for the first time 10 years ago now. It’s 10 years ago. It was my first radio commercial, and I didn’t think a thing of it.

Cee Cee Huffman: Happy anniversary!

Bonnie Williams: Thank you! So much, it’ll be 10 years officially. And I never really thought about it. I was like, “OK, that’s cool. I’m going to go be on Broadway now, bye.” And that didn’t happen, which is okay. I’m too old for all of my dream roles now. So, I need to recalibrate what I’m going to do, but yeah. They, they introduced me to that and I said, “OK, let’s- you know, why not?”

Why not try it? And it was one of my theater teachers at first was telling me about audio books, and I was trying to get the audio part of it down. And it was really frustrating. Getting good quality sound is really hard sometimes, and I was learning that way back then. And I had very loud neighbors in my LA apartment that would just all hours of the day.

And I said, “I don’t know how to record around this.” So, I kind of put that off to the side a little bit. And then one of my other theater friends said, “You should try this, just jump into my booth, into my sound treated booth, and I’ll throw some stuff at you and we’ll see what sticks.” And I said, “Okay. I like cold reads. Let’s do it.” And it gave me that feeling that I had when I was a theater degree, getting my, getting my undergrad degree in theater. And I hadn’t felt that happiness in so long. I said, “No, this is what I need to be doing. It’s this right here.” And she said, “Okay, I think you’re good, but I also know you. Go take classes with people who don’t know you, have no loyalty to you whatsoever, and go from there and see if it’s something you really want to pursue.” And I fell in love with it back then, and I’ve been doing it ever since, and it’s really cool to be able to do this every day.

Jason Gillikin: Wow. All right. So what was your first radio commercial 10 years ago?

Bonnie Williams: It was for a local Mexican restaurant.

And my friend asked me, she worked at the radio station, said, “Do you want to do this?” I said, “Yeah. Okay. What do I have to do?” She said, “Well, it’s for Rosaria’s, you have to pretend you love Mexican food.” I said, “That’s not even acting, dude.” Also, you can tell I’m from LA and Southern California. I say dude a lot, and I pretty sure I said that to her. I said, “Dude, that’s not even acting. Let’s go.”

Jason Gillikin: So what was the read? Like what, what, what did you have to say? Do you remember?

Bonnie Williams: It was, I actually have it. I emailed them a few years ago and I said, “Random question, do you have this commercial from 2011 by chance?”

And it was the same person working there. And he said, “Yeah, I actually have that in the archives. Let me send that to you.” And when you listen to your early stuff, it’s -you hopefully you’ll feel like you’ve grown since then. I kind of look at it and I go, “Oh. Oh, well, at least I’m better now, ” but it wasn’t too terrible I’d like to think, but it was two girls talking about, you know, “Oh my boyfriend’s talking about this girl. What’s her name? Rosa Maria. Oh, they have Mexican food there and it’s on sale. We should go,” basically that type of commercial.

Jason Gillikin: That is awesome. Yeah. It’s the same thing with podcasting, right? Where you don’t -you cringe going back to your first episodes.

You’re like, “Ah, I don’t want to listen to that at all,” and you’re always surprised when you see the download numbers and you’re like, “Oh, shoot. People are actually listening to that- to the old episodes,” but hey, that’s okay. I mean, you, you’re probably your harshest critic, you know, all of us are.

Bonnie Williams: Yeah, that’s very true.

I’m, I’m mean to myself. No, I’m actually not. Just strict. I’m just strict, tough to work for.

Yeah.

Jason Gillikin: So how did you come up with all the, the branding? Like you’ve got amazing branding for VO Superhero, how did you come up with all that?

Bonnie Williams: Thank you. I was trying to figure out, like, when I moved here, I had to rebrand completely.

I wasn’t doing TV and film anymore. A lot of the film stuff had moved out of Wilmington. So by the time I got here, I was thinking, “OK where did the work go?” Hmm. And I had to really learn the business side of things, and that was when I was taking classes and doing everything behind the scenes. And I got a book by Celia Siegal, who is amazing in the voiceover industry, and it’s called “Voiceover Achiever.”

And my, my type A, Enneagram one self saw the title of that book and said, “No, I need to get that.” And in that book, she really helps you figure out your branding and who you are as a person. And one of the big things is what do people associate with you? And I put out this thing and I said, “OK, tell, you know, show me, send me stuff that you associate with me.”

And I was looking, and it was always superhero stuff because that’s how I was raised. I was one of those kids that got made fun of for liking comic books because they were a girl, and it wasn’t cool back then, and now it’s cool and I’m doing fine and it’s totally okay. And I’m not bitter at all, but, uh, it was one of those things that it just felt right.

And I was really digging and I said, “You know, I want to be that person for my clients and for people, I want to be that person they can go to, even if I can’t be the actual solution to the problem, I want to be able to help with it.” Because superheroes have their weaknesses, right? Even Superman, kryptonite.

It’s that same thing. They can’t do everything, but they can do a lot of things. And that’s how I try to approach my business. So even if I can’t do everything, like I have clients who come to me, “Can you be a 25, 35 year old male?” No, I can’t. If I could do that, I would take over the world. There would be no stopping since I can’t, you know, if you need a 12 year old boy, I got you.

But outside of that, It’s a little tough, but I know people who can do that. And that’s what I really try to be for my clients. And I have a bunch of superhero stuff in here. I have all of them in here and it’s just a place to feel empowered, and you want to be your best self. And I want to be that for my clients. And I want to be that for myself, too. So I can’t slack if I’m a superhero, right? That’s where I’m going with it.

Yeah.

Cee Cee Huffman: That’s a really great point too, for when you’re trying to decide what your own personal brand is, asking other people what they think is like key. Because most of the time, you don’t realize that you already kind of have one, and it’s just a matter of figuring out what it is. And that’s a great way to do it.

Bonnie Williams: Yeah, it was pretty cool. I couldn’t be, you know, the voiceover Jedi, because more people associate superheroes with me than Star Wars, but that’s okay. I have a bunch of  Star Wars stuff in my office, but once it clicked, I just, I felt it. And I went, “Ooh, that’s it, that’s it. That’s mine. That’s me.” And you know, you know, when, you know when it’s right.

Jason Gillikin: Wow. Well, Bonnie, I could talk to you all day about the business part of it. And I mean, you even have a cadre of voiceover artists that you work with. Like, we even needed a male voice at one time to do an audio book. And I asked you, not can you do it, but do you know somebody who can do it? And, uh, and yeah, you found somebody and it was amazing.

Um, so, but we can talk to you about the business part of it forever, but why you’re here is because we want our audience to know how can you sound amazing on a podcast? So Cee Cee you and I let’s, let’s just throw questions at, at Bonnie here and then she can give us, you know, some, some tips that we didn’t even think about some questions that we should have been asking. So  I’ll, uh, I’ll let you go first, Cee Cee..

Cee Cee Huffman: My simple first question is what should people not do? Like, what should people not do before they need to speak somewhere or record?

Bonnie Williams: Eat a lot of cheese.

Cee Cee Huffman: I mentioned that one to Jason the other day that was, I would always eat cheese or like Takis before I had to perform.

And that was just a disaster every time, but I kept doing it.

Bonnie Williams: And -’cause cheese is delicious, right? For a while, and I wanted cheese and that stopped me. So, I totally understand. So maybe not eating a lot of cheese before you record.

Jason Gillikin: Wait, why is it, does it make you burpee or like what?

Bonnie Williams: It’s the, the dairy in it. It’s kind of makes you more phlem-y. It’s like you’ll notice cheese. It creates like a coating and that’s why they always tell singers don’t drink milk before you perform. One of my choir teachers in high school would always say that “Don’t you drink milk before you get over here and you perform tonight.”

Okay. I won’t, it was always me, I guess. I don’t know. But yeah, dairy try to stay away from dairy is a big one. Don’t, you know, smoke 12 packs of cigarettes before you perform. It’s just some of those basic things we don’t really think about. Drink a lot of water, that’s- we’re talking about the nose. Okay. Brain, caffeine. Don’t drink a lot of coffee or if you’re going to drink coffee, make sure you hydrate afterwards  because I’m not going to tell somebody they can’t drink coffee because I love coffee, but I also you’ll notice I have 12 different cups in here because I’m drinking coffee and I’m hydrating at the same time.

So, don’t get into a screaming match with somebody before you record.

Cee Cee Huffman: I just avoid that generally. Talk it out a little bit more nicely.

Bonnie Williams:  If you have to do it, don’t do it right before you record. So, those would be some of the big ones, but avoiding a lot of dairy, avoiding a lot of milk, if you can, would be, would be majorly beneficial.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. Yeah. And I noticed that too, with the coffee, you’ll, you’ll hear it in, in when people speak and then they’ll do that clicking sound all the time. Like *CLICK* because they’re trying to clear their throats or they’re clear, clear the mouths right?

Bonnie Williams: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s getting sticky, it dries it out and makes it sticky and that’s the mouth clicks.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. I’ve heard soda and spicy foods as well. Is that something to avoid?

Bonnie Williams: Probably. I don’t drink soda in general, so it’s kind of hard for me to- so it’s one of those weird things I never think about until somebody asks me and I go, “Yeah, I don’t drink soda,” but, anything that’s gonna make you super burpee, and it also depends on your microphone and how sensitive it is.

My other microphone is so sensitive that if I have a little grumbly in my tumbly, it will pick it up. It will, it’ll pick it up because it’s so sensitive it is. And I’ve -there have been times where I’ve been super hungry, and I’ll go to record and it’ll just make that thing. Okay. I guess I gotta go eat something.

Okay. And it’ll pick it up on the wave form. So yeah, spicy foods. Probably not. If it’s going to irritate your stomach at all, or if it’s going to make you burp, make you gassy in any way, maybe avoid it before you record.

Jason Gillikin: Okay. All right. Those are good ones. All right. So Bonnie, what about your mic and studio setup?

Bonnie Williams: Okay. So I have a bunch of things in here, but I have a sound treated space, there’s a bunch of acoustic panels over here. I’m also trying to not turn my head away and still, so you can hear me because the proximity effect on here. So, yeah, so I have a bunch of sound panels in here and sound panels don’t do sound proofing, they do sound dampening. It’s not going to soundproof your space. The only way you can really soundproof is kind of reconstructing your environment and doing a lot of technical things that I’m not really equipped for. So, but we’ll keep the sounds from echoing and that’s really what you want.

You don’t want to have giant echo as you’re recording, because that gets really annoying to listen to.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. And a closet, like if you don’t have a studio space. Yeah. Closets are great. The only problem with, yeah. The only problem with the closet is if you’re on video also, uh, sometimes that’s not so great to be showing off your messy closet.

Bonnie Williams: Yeah. If it’s a closet, make sure it’s clean and organized.

Jason Gillikin: Right. Well, it’s not, that’s why I’m not in the closet today.

Bonnie Williams: That’s fair. That’s fair. I know plenty of people who record out of their closets because you get really good dampening from all of the clothes in there and it keeps it from echoing and some of them have the same mic that I do.

So, it’s not picking up a lot of the ambient noise, it’s just picking up the pattern right here.

Jason Gillikin: Yep. Okay.

Bonnie Williams: So that’s an upside. Closet, if you can, but if you’re going to be on video, maybe try to pizazz it a little bit around, right?

Jason Gillikin: Pizazz your closet.

Bonnie Williams: Pizazz your closet. Yeah.

Jason Gillikin: All right. So your microphone, you’ve got, uh, what looks to be a fan, like a fancy microphone there.

And you mentioned that you’ve got one that’s, uh, even more sensitive. So, you know, for our listeners out there a one, what do you use? And then two, like what do you recommend and is there like a big difference in, in microphones?

Bonnie Williams: Yes. So your microphone is really going to depend on what you are using it for. For voiceover, it’s really recommended to not use a USB microphone. That’s generally- the quality from that is good, but with voiceover stuff, it needs to be just different. It has to have the quality just needs to be a little bit. I’m not trying to, you know, it’s not like the quality needs to be better, but for this type of stuff, if they’re going to take this exact sound and, and throw it in the commercial, it has to be ready to go without tweaking and everything to it.

And a lot of studios and agencies, they’ll only say like, we want XLR microphones. We don’t want USB because that’s what they expect for their clients and people and the engineers who are going to be working with those tracks. They have to know what microphones they’re going to be using, what they’re going to be mixing.

So it really kind of depends on your recording space, your voice, and what you’re going to be using it for. So, um, podcasting? USB is totally fine. Totally fine. Exactly, but I mean, I, what microphones are you guys using? Cause it sounds really good to me.

Jason Gillikin: Okay. I’ve got a Blue Yeti, so, you know, it’s popular podcasting microphone. It is a USB mic. And, uh, it’ll run about $130, about $150 with a pop filter.

Bonnie Williams: Yep.

Cee Cee Huffman: Yeah. And I have a Rode Mini USB microphone, which I think is around a hundred.

Bonnie Williams: Yeah, those sound really good to me. And it also is a recording space, and I’m sure you probably have things that are -you’ve covered reflective surfaces and all of that I’m sure, but your sound sounds really good to me, so I never want to sound like, “Well, you can’t use that.” You know, I don’t want to, I don’t ever, ever want to sound like a jerk, but it really depends on your voice and what you’re trying to do. And one of the best ways to do it, and it’s a little bit different with, you know, everything closing, but now that things are reopening, you can always do a mic shootout is what they’re called.

You can always go test it out, try it out. And if it doesn’t work for your voice, you can send it back. And that’s one of the best ways to know. But if you don’t know, and you’re like, “Well, I don’t know if it sounds good.” There are audio engineers, and there are people who have the trained ears to know if it works for your voice or not.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah.

Bonnie Williams: I’ve been pretty lucky that most of the time I’ve bought one that it’s worked for me. I think there was one that wasn’t working as well for me, but it was also my recording space that made the big difference. So I’m sure in a new environment, it would probably be better, but once I stacked that microphone next to my TLM103, which is this guy right there, it was a night and day difference for the engineers.

And they said, “No, no, no, no. Don’t go back to that other one, use this one.” Okay. Okay. I’ll use that one then.

Cee Cee Huffman: So you’ve mentioned,  types of voices a couple of times. Could you talk about what different types of voices there are and maybe what types of microphones are best for those?

Bonnie Williams: The industry standard mics are the ones that I have here. This is a, uh, Sennheiser MKH 4 16. This is  a standard shotgun mic that you’ll see in most recording studios when they have a shotgun mic, because most everybody knows how to work this one. This is the TLM103, which is also pretty industry standard. And then the one that you’ll see in all of the big recording studios behind the scenes videos, like all the Disney animation stuff, that’s a U87. So those are kind of the three main power horses that- workhorses that people know in the industry with those types of names. Those work for pretty much most voices and most engineers have been using them for so long that they’re comfortable with that.

But, uh, let’s say you have kind of a louder recording space or you’re doing- if your recording space isn’t super well treated, you’re going to want to use a shotgun mic over a large diaphragm condenser mic like this one, just because this is going to pick up more of the sound around you while this has a tighter pickup pattern.

So it’s really, and you can do more of the intimate style reads with this and more of the promo type reads and the trailer reads. I don’t do a lot of those, but you can do more of those reads with that proximity effect. You can get that with this type of microphone. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Not that you can’t get it.

Yeah. That this guy, but with this one, it’s a little different.

Jason Gillikin: Wow. All right. All right. We’re going to school here.

Bonnie Williams: So it, you know, it, there are, I know one of my friends has an AT, Audio-Technica 2020, and she has the same microphone that she takes with her on the road that’s in her studio, and she books work go off of that all the time.

And that’s around a hundred dollars, but it’s a huge, it’s an XLR microphone, and the USB one sounds the same, but she books work with that all the time does a bunch of audio books, but she has an amazing recording space as well. So, that works really well for her voice. I had that microphone a while ago, and it didn’t work as well for mine.

So, it’s kind of hard to tell, but there are thankfully, thankfully there are a lot of really good voiceover groups online on Facebook where people will say, you know, “Hey, I have this type of voice. Can somebody help me who has had a similar type of voice? Can you give me an example of what works for you?

And people will tell you I didn’t get the 103. I didn’t get this one. I got the 102. It sounds just the same, and it’s $500 less. So, getting that community support is really, really cool to try to figure out, you know, what may work better for you. And I got this one because I’d been wanting it for a long time.

And I said, “You know, if it doesn’t work, I can send it back and say, ‘Nope, didn’t work for me.'” But thankfully it has, and people really like it. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna keep it.

Jason Gillikin: So I saw on your website, there’s a story on there about unintentionally figuring out the difference between a $1,200 mic and $150 mic.

I, I don’t, I know I’m not getting the story correct. But can you tell what happened and what’d you find out about, you know, the, the high dollar mics versus the, you know, sort of mid-range mics?

Bonnie Williams: Absolutely. So, yeah, that was an interesting experience. My- that was fun, and I had no idea and again, the community support, like I love the voiceover community because pretty much everybody’s really cool and really supportive. They’re not, I don’t want to say like stab you in the back, you know, not going to compare it to other industries, but voiceover’s super, super supportive. And I had been wanting this microphone and my husband said, “Okay, okay. You know, I’ll, I’ll get it for you.”

And he super supportive, and he went and got it on eBay and I’m going-

Cee Cee Huffman: Scary.

Bonnie Williams: Because that’s not what I want done. And I’m in no way, am I trying to sound like, “Oh, I’m so ungrateful.” I don’t want it to come across that way at all, but that’s not what I would’ve done. And I did say that, but he had such good intentions and he was trying so hard and he got it on eBay and said, “Okay, you know, I got in the box and it’s, you know, Christmas and it’s ready to go.”

And I said, okay, cool. And I was taking it out after, um, after opening it up on Christmas and I was putting it together and I was going to send the audio file to one of my friends, so he could listen to it and tell me if it was good with my voice. And I thought it looked a little different, but I had never worked with one in-person.

So I said, “Well, maybe, I don’t know, it looks different, but what do I know? I’ve never worked with one, and most of everybody always has the windscreen on it. So, how am I supposed to know?” And I posted it on Instagram and one of my friends, my friend, Mike at Real Voice LA, it was a great training studio out there, classes and demos and all that.

He to me and said, “Hey, I’m really hoping this isn’t the case. I’m really hoping you didn’t get scammed, but that looks like an Emmy 66.”

Jason Gillikin: Oh no.

Bonnie Williams: “And if this is somebody trying to sell you a $1,200 microphone, when it’s $150 brand new,” and my heart sank and I Googled it. Emmy 66, and it looked just like it. And I was so sad.

I felt so bad. My husband felt worse. “I was trying to do something nice.” I said, “I know. I don’t want to take away from that.” I just felt so awful. And we had to open up a case with eBay because the seller said, “No, I didn’t send you that.” Yes he did. Yes, he did. And I’ll fight you on it. He will. So we, yeah. And I sent them pictures and I said, this is what you sent us.

It is this type of microphone. We had to open up a case and it took a while. And, you know, and what was really cool, and to answer your question, what Mike had told me, he said, “You know, if it’s gonna work for you and you don’t mind, and you didn’t pay a crazy amount for it then, cool. I’m not going to tell you that it’s not a good mic, but if you wanted the 416, you might want to reconsider with this type of microphone.” And I went, yeah, I wanted the four 16 because I want to be able to say, I have this microphone, so people know that they can work with it. So that was, that was how that happened. And I emailed my Sweetwater rep, Sweetwater sound. They’re really great. That was who I wanted to purchase from originally.

And they do a lot of audio and sound equipment there. And I, I tend to get my studio stuff from there and I have a designated Sweetwater rep who I can email with questions, and she’ll call me after things are set up and say, “Hey, do you need help with anything? Are you good? Do you need anything else?”

Very personalized, building relationships. And I emailed her and I said, “So here’s what happened, can you feel bad for me? Is there anything we can do?” And she was able to give me a pretty nice discount on the new mic. And I said, “Cool, let’s do it. Let’s do it.” So it worked out, it was a learning experience to say the least.

Jason Gillikin: And that’s what you’re using now? Wow.

Bonnie Williams: That’s what I’m using now is the 416.

Oh my God.  Okay. Well, um, Cee Cee, what questions do you have?

Cee Cee Huffman: Well, first of all, I want to say that it’s crazy that it really- people would really think that they could pass that off and somebody wouldn’t notice, that’s my first thought coming off of that.

Um, but my second thought is we’ve talked a lot about, like technically how to sound your best in terms of microphone and quality and stuff like that, but I kind of want to know how can you, just, in terms of your speech patterns to avoid, like, I used to have a pretty bad accent that I’ve gotten rid of over the years.

Like, what do you do if you have an accent so you can sound your best? Like just things like that.

Bonnie Williams: So what’s really interesting about that is I was just in a video game class last weekend? The weekend before? Time is weird right now. So, it was semi-recently.

Cee Cee Huffman: That’s good enough.

Bonnie Williams:  Yeah, it was semi recently, one of these weekends and the, the guest director for the workout had said, you know, we would be trying to get rid of people’s accents, but now with everything opening and with voiceover being more inclusive of different ethnicities and all of this, they’re really trying to be more inclusive. So they’re encouraging people to get rid of their accents less now, which is really, really interesting, but there are people who can help with accent reduction, general, general, Americanized English. They can help with that. So if it’s really something that’s bothering you, absolutely go see somebody. But if it’s something that’s authentic, people want that now.

Cee Cee Huffman: Yeah.

Bonnie Williams: They want that. If they can get that authenticity. I have gotten auditions where they say, you know, we want accents for this, but we want it to be authentic if possible. We want authentic Italian. We don’t care if you’re Italian, unless you have an accent. And I went, “Okay, I’m out of the accent.” I’m Italian.

I don’t have the accent, I’m out, but that’s something that’s really cool. The industry is shifting. They want people who can bring these experiences. So if you have it and it’s part of who you are, maybe not get rid of it and embrace it and go, no, this is who I am. Charming and quirky and just say, no, this is me.

Yeah.

Cee Cee Huffman: Yeah. Something that I think has been happening across the board too, because if you like, listen to radio shows like NPR, not everybody has that classic, you know, deep radio kind of announcer voice.

Bonnie Williams: Yeah, I knew exactly what you meant. Yeah.

Cee Cee Huffman: There’s a lot more on there, but then just in terms of speech pattern, how can you make sure you sound your best too?

Bonnie Williams: Start paying attention to what you say and think, but being more aware of what you’re doing and taking classes and having somebody point it out to you, it’s also a really good way of figuring out how to do that. Record yourself, play it back. And it’s just becoming more aware. And also don’t be too harsh on yourself if an occasional vocal fry slips in there or an occasional, um, we’re all human, but, you know, learning where you can make those changes and always getting an outside ear, an outside coach or a trusted friend who’s not going to make you feel like garbage if you are having a bad day and some of those slip in there, they’re not going to berate you, but they’ll go, “Hey, you know, I noticed this, but before you beat yourself up, it’s okay. It’s just something to work on,” could be a really good approach to it. ‘Cause we’re already harsh on ourselves. We don’t need somebody making us cry. Like, yeah.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. Those natural ums are okay. And I, I used to want to edit out every single, um, and every single like, and every single, you know, but sometimes that adds personality to it.

And it’s not a bad thing. Now when, when there’s, you know, 500 ums in a, uh, in an episode: Yeah, that’s, that’s a problem. But yeah, but when there’s a few, hey, that, that just adds a personality to it.

Bonnie Williams: It makes you sound human.

Jason Gillikin: So my wife has a podcast, Weddings for Real, and in the closet, there’s, uh, something, uh, there’s a piece of paper that says, don’t say “Like, um, you know,” so she’s staring at it as she, she’s doing these podcast episodes, not to say like, um, and you know.

Bonnie Williams: And it’s that awareness though.

That’s exactly it of being aware and going, “Okay, maybe I slow down and I take a pause before I continue phrases.” And like, I’m from LA. And we say like, it happens. And he was like, it happens, but you know- You know, see, there we go. We’re human. It’s what we do. It makes us sound conversational. And the crazy thing is with those types of voiceover reads where they want it to sound, everybody wants conversational.

They don’t want the, the announcer, they want the conversational. So if you throw those in there in your read, well, you know, I was thinking the other day that this would be really great to go to this thing. You can always edit that out, but we use those things to sound more conversational in our voiceover reads.

So it’s like a get rid of it, but don’t.

Jason Gillikin: Yep. Just make sure you’re aware of it. Yeah.

Bonnie Williams: Yeah. Self-awareness that’s the name of the game, really.

Cee Cee Huffman: Yeah.

Jason Gillikin: All right, Bonnie. So what happens if you get a cold? How can you, how can you work on your voice when you’re not feeling your best?

Bonnie Williams: Vocal rest.

Jason Gillikin: Okay.

Bonnie Williams: Vocal rest, don’t talk.

Jason Gillikin: Don’t scream.

Bonnie Williams: Don’t yeah, don’t scream. Don’t talk. Learn. I was going to say learn, sign language, but no, but you really just shut it down. Take it easy you can- because your clients, they’re going to want the best quality sound. Right? They’re not going to want you with a cold trying to “And then I said,” they don’t want that.

They don’t want that. Nobody wants that. So, “Hey, I’m sick right now. Can you, can I check in with you tomorrow and get this back to you as soon as possible?” And we’re all human. Everybody gets sick. So if you can tell them, “Hey, I’m not, I’m not feeling great. I, I’m really trying to take care of my instrument. Can I get this back to you later?” Most of the time, they’ll probably be really understanding and go, “Hey, thanks for letting me know, versus sending in something that’s just unusable.” And now they think, well, what happened to this great performer that I hired?

Cee Cee Huffman: Right.

Jason Gillikin: All right. All right. Well, let’s, let’s go over this scenario.

Let’s say, let’s say we get, you know, Sarah Blakely, uh, booked on a show for tomorrow and, uh, I’m starting to feel a little sick, and I’m not going to be able to reschedule Sara Blakely. Like, you know, I got that half hour from her and that was, you know, that is a huge win right there. So, you know, what, what can I do then?

You know, besides rest, like, is there anything I should drink? Is there anything that anything else I should be doing?

Bonnie Williams: Yes, throat coat tea is amazing. I have mine on auto-ship from Amazon. I get the six boxes. I will drink that while I’m recording, before a session. That stuff is really good. And it just helps to create like a nice hug around your vocal chords.

So that’s yeah, it’s, it’s comfort in a cup. So, something like that would be really, really good to have on hand. Lemon water is also really good and that’s antibacterial. I think it was my best friend just told me last night and I forgot. I like the taste of it, it’s good for you. Yeah. Water. ‘Cause she’s a nurse and I said, “No, I already drink lemon water. We’re good.”

So. I love that. Drink lemon water, stay hydrated, drink water all day long. Hydration is the name of the game. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Do that. Really try not to eat anything inflammatory, anything that’s going to make you feel gross, and put a scarf around your throat. I learned that from one of my musical theater directors, when everybody was getting sick, and it was the fall. It was fall in Southern California. So it wasn’t, you know, cold, like it is here, it was cold for us. And she told us, “I want to see you all wearing scarves all day long, because that will keep your throat warm, which is supposed to help keep germs out.” I don’t know. She’s amazing. So I said, okay, I’m not going to question.

Cee Cee Huffman: Whatever you say.

Bonnie Williams: So anytime I start to feel that tickle, I go “Oop, time for a scarf. I don’t care if it’s the summer time for a scarf,” and elderberry gummies. I really, really like those elderberry. I don’t know what it is about it, but as soon as I start to feel a little like, “Ooh, I feel kind of yucky,” pop some of those bad boys and you’re, you’re good.

So, take it easy with that and try to rest as much as possible, but tea, water, don’t get sick.

Jason Gillikin: Don’t get sick.

Bonnie Williams: I have a story. I have, yeah, the story I got sick right before a big job. This was right before I recorded most of the audio for the job I did with Gary Vaynerchuk. And I went on vocal rest for three days.

They gave me three days, and I didn’t tell them I was sick. It was like the first time I’m telling this story publicly. I didn’t tell them I was sick. I said, no, I don’t want to, I don’t want to drop the ball on this and lose this job. So, I’m just going to go on vocal rest. And I went on vocal rest for three days.

And I got back in the booth and thankfully the character I was playing was a, it was a boy. So he was kind of raspy, so that worked out really well for my voice having, having been like, I was coughing, it was gross. It was gross. But having that rasp to my voice worked out really, really well for this, but I went on vocal rest and I, I got in the booth and I cut out all of my coughing in between the dialogue, and I sent it to them and I went, okay, now we wait, nobody was the wiser. And this is the first time I’m telling this story publicly. So rest when you can, and I got it in before the deadline and I got in the night before it was due and we went on from there, but then I had to replicate the raspy  voice for the character without hurting my voice.

Jason Gillikin: Oh my gosh.

Bonnie Williams: But I did it, so we’re good. Wow.

Gary V was none the wiser.

Nobody was the wiser, and hopefully nobody will hold that against me, but we got it done. And then there you go. You just take care of yourself. And I had the scarf around me. I had about five mugs of tea back here, and I was recording and editing and coughing.

And, but I got it, got it taken care of. And I said, just cut out the coughs, and we’re good.

Jason Gillikin: Wow. Okay. Where can people find this, uh, this video?

Bonnie Williams: It’s on YouTube. If you type in Lil’ V, and Lil V one slime, L I L V,  yeah. I was Gary and about 11 or 10 other characters. Wow, cool. That we’re all kids. It was cool.

It was a great time.

Jason Gillikin: Nice. Um, last question for you, and then I just want to ask some fun questions, so.

Bonnie Williams: Ooh. Okay.

Jason Gillikin: Uh, sitting standing. Does it make a difference?

Bonnie Williams: Yes. It’s like a yes, but it kind of depends.

I am very animated and I, I talk with my hands again. I’m Italian. I talk with my hands and. I prefer to stand when I record, but I have a mat under my feet. For me, it keeps the energy going. But if you are going to be doing longer form, I know a lot of people that prefer to sit and record, it’s kind of a preference.

Do you want to sit down or do you want to stand and record? I like this. I don’t like having my editing space in my booth. I just want to focus on performing when I’m in here. And then when I’m out of the booth is when I can put on my editor hat and sit down and go, okay, now let’s edit. And let me put on the, the engineer hat.

And, but in here I want to be director and actor. I don’t know when I think about editing while I’m in here. So, I prefer to stand.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah, when I’m at, when I’m doing any sort of intro outro stuff, which is basically voiceover stuff, I love to stand up for that and just bring the energy from, from there. So, yeah, that makes sense.

And if I could, and if I can stand for 45 minutes at a time, I’m sure, you know, I’ll do that too for a full podcast recording, but, um, and I do notice a difference in the energy. Um, so that that’s a good point. All right. What, um, what are we missing, Bonnie? Are there any other tips that we should’ve been asking about?

Bonnie Williams: Besides drink coffee. If it makes you feel good, remember to hydrate. That’s that’s a really big one. Yeah. Cover up any reflective surfaces in your recording area. If it’s underneath your desk, put a towel down, or if you have your mic right there, you don’t want it to reflect back and echo up, so maybe put a towel down or a cool blanket or I have I’ll show you. I have something in here. I have a mic stand or a music stand in my booth where I put stuff I’ll put like copy or stuff in there, depending. I usually use my monitor for that, but I’ll put like performance notes and things on there, but I have this.

Jason Gillikin: Okay. So if you can you talk, then you can do voiceovers.

Bonnie Williams: And it’s, it’s definitely sarcastic.

It says my days of talking for free are over and funny. So I have that. It’s like a pillowcase or no, it’s not a pillow case. I think it’s a, I dunno, it’s something for your desk, but I have it covering up my music stand because this is very, very reflective. It’s metal. You don’t want that. I don’t want to be doing a loud, you know, character read and have that bounce off and sound weird in the, the recording. So I have that covering that up. So, anything like that is a really good, really good idea of covering up reflective surfaces. Don’t record in the bathroom. Hmm. Dont’ record in a bathroom. Don’t record 10 feet away from your microphone.

Try not to like pop your P’s into it the entire time. It’s not very pleasant. Don’t do that.

Jason Gillikin: See, that’s a fancy mic. It didn’t sound bad, but when you don’t have a screen guard or a pop filter on one of these, woo. It can get really, yeah. Explosive. Yeah.

And then right next to it, right.

Cee Cee Huffman: I was going to say, you also want to think more, less about talking in directly into your microphone and more talking across your microphone, or like have a slightly off to the side or slightly below, because otherwise that’s going to get really bad too.

Bonnie Williams: Yeah, the way it was explained to me was point your microphone towards your mouth. Don’t point your mouth towards the microphone. Oh yeah. It just needs to keep it off axis. And for the most part you’ll avoid plosives. I also learned a trick. I don’t remember who told me it’s going to drive me nuts, but the trick was, try to say your Ps as a B don’t go pop.

So Platypus, Platypus, Platypus. That’s very likely close it, right. If you say “blatypus” and you just  turn thatPe into a B a little bit.

Jason Gillikin: Oh my God.

Bonnie Williams: You’re going to be thinking about that all day. I know.

Jason Gillikin: This was worth the price of admission right here. That one tip, turn your Ps into a B. Wow. Okay.

Bonnie Williams: Just slightly P into a B.

Jason Gillikin: That’s amazing. All right. Let’s well, Bonnie, this has been awesome. Great tips. I’ve got some fun questions for you. All right.

Bonnie Williams: OK, I’m ready.

Jason Gillikin: What was your coolest voiceover experience?

Bonnie Williams: Ooh, ever?

Jason Gillikin:  Ever.

Bonnie Williams: You know, probably working with Gary V and getting to really stretch my muscles. And I was just determined to play everybody, and they didn’t stop me.

They said, “Cool, play whoever you want. Send us the audio, and we’ll see if we like it.” And I said, “Okay, I want to do as much as I can.” And originally, they hired me to be a female and I said, “You know, I, I can be, I can be a little boy, too.” And they went, uh, came out, really creepy in the microphone. Um, and they said, “Oh, well, send that to us and we’ll see.” And that was really challenging having to play a boy, and also like five other boys, and be kids and make them all sound different and give them different experiences. And the animators animated around those characters. So, I gave one kid like a re- he had a really interesting lisp and he was talking like this and they gave him braces in the animation and it was really cute.

So, when you work with somebody, when you work with somebody that lets you be creative and doesn’t- they just kind of give you free rein and they trust you. That’s really, really cool. So that was probably my favorite and it was for kids, and it’s teaching kids about how to be an entrepreneur, and it was really fun.

Jason Gillikin: Wow. I don’t know how you keep track of that. I’ll be reading a book to my kids and that’ll have three characters and I’ll try to do different voices for them, and I lose track of it. Like I lose track of like what my voice is supposed to. I don’t know how you do that. That’s that’s impressive.

Bonnie Williams: You just go back and listen to what you recorded earlier.

When you really feel like you get the character, just give yourself a little sample track that you can go back and listen to him and go, “Oh yeah, he sounds like this.” And then you can go back and, and reinstate that into the audio. And thankfully with audio, you can cut out the bad stuff that you don’t like.

And then, nobody has to know like, “Oh, that take, I didn’t know. That was garbage. I don’t like that. Let’s send this one.” Nobody has to know. So you can kind of give yourself that time versus live theater. No, if you mess up, you keep going. Yes and it, and you keep going. You don’t get to edit and go, let’s go back.

No, you don’t get to do that. So it’s, it’s a different environment. Absolutely.

Jason Gillikin: All right. What accents can you do? What are your, what are your like top two favorite accents that you can do?

Bonnie Williams: I really like doing one that I do for my dog. I don’t do a lot of them as much anymore because people want authenticity. But, in theater they were having us do everything. They were having us do British ones. They were having us do everything because it’s theater. They want you to be able to do everything. But, I have one that I do for my dog and my dog is almost eight years old and he’s a little old man. And I gave him an accent and it’s fun.

And so my husband and I, we talk like our dog all day long when we’re near him and it’s, it’s gross and I love it.

Jason Gillikin: Okay. Are you going to share it?

Bonnie Williams: Well, I guess I have two now, so, so my dog. I do this in my voiceover for kids class. I show them a picture of my dog. I’m like, what do you think his accent would be?

And they kind of look at me weird, like he’s a dog. I’m like, yeah, but voiceover and everybody comes up with something different. So mine with looking at him and he’s kind of lazy and he moves around a lot and he goes, “Hi, mama, can I have, can we go to Starbucks today? I’d like to get a pup cup.”

Jason Gillikin: That’s good.

Bonnie Williams: He just- that’s the one I probably do the most for fun. But I, you know, I’ll do like funny stuff, but I don’t do a lot of accent stuff because they generally want authentic now. So I go, okay, well, you know, I can, I can be your standard Valley girl, if that’s what you want. If you want something more authentic, I can sound like a 20 something year old from Southern California.

Or I can sound like my dog, that I nicknamed forest lumps. So, you know, or Forrest grump, depending on his mood.

Jason Gillikin: Right. Um, who is your favorite superhero?

Bonnie Williams: Bat Girl!

Jason Gillikin: Bat Girl. Awesome.

Bonnie Williams: I don’t know. I get a lot of Captain Marvel stuff. People say you remind me of her. And I said, okay, I’m okay with that.

That’s fine. Thank you. I’m- that’s a compliment. Thank you.

Jason Gillikin: Do the Captain Marvel cartoon.

Bonnie Williams: I would die. That’s the goal? One of them, one of them one day.

Jason Gillikin: All right. And then what, what podcast are you listening to right now? I mean, obviously not while you’re recording this, but you know what, what’s on your podcast list?

Bonnie Williams: Ooh, I really like the VO Boss podcast, voiceover related stuff. I listened to- it kind of depends. But voiceover stuff typically, I always want to figure out how to be better in the industry. I’m always listening to work stuff and self-improvement things. Yeah. But I like VO boss. I also worked behind the scenes on that podcast.

So I also have to technically listen to it, but I really like it because I liked it even before I started doing things for it, because it’s really good to have people come in and do interviews and share their experiences in voiceover and how to be better and how to grow in your business in all different areas, performing the, not so fun things, taxes and, and running the business side of things, which is really, really interesting to me because that’s the part about show business that people forget about is it’s also a business it’s not just performing all day long, right?

Like tips on your marketing and how to build those relationships. Like, I’m really into things like that.

Jason Gillikin: Bonnie, this has been awesome. Thank you so much for sharing your, your secrets, your tips, and anybody listening, you will now be a better podcaster because of this episode. So thank you so much.

Bonnie Williams: Thank you.

This was super fun.

Cee Cee Huffman:  Yes, it was so nice to meet you.

Bonnie Williams: So nice meeting you.

Jason Gillikin: Yeah. Where can people find you if they have voiceover needs for their podcasts, for their audio book for anything? Where can people go?

Bonnie Williams: Yeah, my website is www.vosuperhero.com. VO as in voiceover, not B O as in body odor. So I always have to specify that, but I’m pretty much on all social channels as voiceover superhero.

If you type that in, you’ll find me. That’s I’ve spent years building this brand. So, I try to make it pretty easy to find if you type in voiceover superhero, you’ll find me. So, or you can type in my full name, like I’m in trouble and I did something, so.

Jason Gillikin: Awesome. Bonnie, thank you so much again. Um, this has been amazing and, uh, I, I, I always look forward to our conversations and thank you for your support of Earfluence as well.

It’s, uh, it’s so cool to see you on social media and all the things that you’re doing.

Bonnie Williams: Absolutely. Thank you so much, you’re the best.

Jason Gillikin: All right. Well, everybody. Thanks for listening. Um, if you’re looking for podcast production, go to www.earfluence.com, whether that’s just editing or all the way up to full service production, even consulting.

You can also email info@earinfluence.com. For Cee Cee Huffman, I’m Jason Gillikin and we’ll see you next time on the Earfluence podcast.

Full Episode Transcript

The Earfluence Podcast is a production of Earfluence Media and is hosted by Jason Gillikin and Cee Cee Huffman.

Earfluence
Podcast Production
About the Author
We believe in sharing amazing stories, providing knowledge to the world, and celebrating diverse voices. Through podcasting, our clients are amplifying their expertise, expanding their networks, building a content engine, and growing their influence. If you're interested in podcasting, we'd love to hear from you! Schedule your free 15 minute podcast consult today.