Gobs on Sticks

Thoughts mostly (but not always) about the voice-over business, from London Voiceover Artist, Mike Cooper

  • About the author

    My name is Mike Cooper. I'm a full time Voiceover Artist living and working in London, and this is my blog. Find out more about me on my main website (there's a link further down this column), or if you'd like to hear some of my work, check out the files below.
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Mike has a sore throat

Posted by MikeCooper on September 18, 2008

I was going to write that I had a cold, but changed my mind, because I’ve managed to stop it coming to that. There’s definitely something going around though, because two of my colleagues at Bush House – a presenter and a newsreader – had the same thing yesterday, and several other people told me they felt they’d been fighting something off, too.

I dread being ill. All freelances do. It must have something to do with not being paid if you don’t turn up to work. On top of which, if you’re the freelance who’s been brought in to cover holiday/sickness/a difficult gap in the rota, then it always feels like there’s an extra moral duty incumbent upon you not to let the side down by crying off just when you’re needed. In the two years I worked on what was essentially a full-time (though entirely freelance) basis for Sky News as a Director, I took exactly two days off sick, and felt more rotten (psychologically) as a result of doing so. I’m sure other freelances will have similar stories.

So, we’re clear: freelances being sick is a Bad Thing. That’s why most freelances I know would struggle into work when they’re clearly not well enough, more worried about the problems they’d cause by not turning up than by the problems they probably will by spreading the germs around, and claiming that really, they’re fine, “It’s just a touch of the bubonic plague, that’s all!”

When you’re a freelance voiceover, of course, things take on a much more sinister twist. That sniffle, that bunged-up nose and that ever-so-slightly sore throat come across in their full glory as soon as you get in front of the microphone. You don’t have the option of sitting in the corner working through your emails, keeping quiet and not answering the phone. You have to talk, to animate, to “project!” even! All anyone wants you for is your voice, after all, and if you can’t do that then you might as well go home, wrap up nice and warm and drink lots of fluids. And not get paid.

The not getting paid bit terrifies me. In fact, at the first sign of a sore throat I’m in the kitchen dosing up on echinacea tinctures and Redoxon capsules (I love the 3 for 2 offers at Boots…) and I usually find this helps stop anything that’s not too serious dead in its tracks. Once again, thankfully, it seems to be working, but I’m taking it steady and breaking down the large job I’m in the middle of today into smaller chunks. I’m drinking lots of cold water, and limiting my time in the booth.

Hopefully my voice teacher at the City Lit will have some pearls of wisdom on how best to deal with a cold as part of my “Technical Voice Production” course. More of which in another post.


2 Responses to “Mike has a sore throat”

  1. George said

    Vocalzone Throat Pastilles are also available from Boots. They are specifically designed for vocal problems.

  2. mikecooper said

    Thanks George, I use those too :o)

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