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Voice Prompt Showcase
October 3, 2011 - By: - In: Localization - Comments Off on Voice Prompt Showcase

Put on your bunker suits, readers. First order of business is to flame my own company, those bums at 1-800-Translate.

Doesn’t it drive you nuts when you call some toll-free number and you get a mindless automated attendant and have to poke your way through some Rockefeller Center-sized call tree to get through?

What about when it’s your own company? I hate our automated attendant, and I’m hoping you can help me dump her.

Now, at 1-800-Translate we’ve got our call tree stripped down to bare branches, so at least there aren’t too many buttons to push, but whenever I call into the office, the voice of the talent we’re using for those prompts drives me to distraction.

For many years, Colette, the British-born wife of one of our project managers, was our talent of choice, a non-pro with a lovely voice and a great neutral estuary accent. That Brit accent has a nice international ambience suitable for our business, and Colette’s diction was Goldilocks—classy, without sounding too posh. But when Colette moved out of studio range, production just got some other Brit voice actor who was able to ape that same accent, but sounded to me like she was putting on airs, if you catch my meaning.

For a long time, I kept my mouth shut because I couldn’t make a business case that this was actually impacting our business, but I finally mentioned my concerns to our phone system manager, Janneth, who quite correctly sent me a production plan that would involve me spending more time and more money on the problem, which is the kind of toxic combination that always triggers my anxiety attacks.

So, inspired by my second glass of Sancerre one evening, I downloaded a trial version of Sound Forge and recorded the prompts on the fancy Microsoft headset I wear all day to make my calls.

So, all those years of voice lessons finally paying off, sort of.

Took me about 20 minutes to record and another 20 to edit them down. J posted them the next day, and they are still up there. So I still cringe when I call in, but with embarrassment rather than frustration. So that’s a good thing, I guess.

But I’ve had my 15 minutes; now it’s your turn. We want to showcase your voice on our system.
So, let’s talk money first: There is no money.

This is just for fame and glory. If we like the sound of your voice, we’ll put in up on our system. You’ll get some play, a credit and some additional recognition.

We want international accents, recorded and edited, ready to drop into the system. Go to and search for “voice talent showcase.” Follow instructions, stick to the script, and don’t get creative. If you come off sounding fake, you won’t stand a chance, so no Colonel Klink accents. Unless they are really good. OK, I guess our criteria have not been totally nailed down.

Here’s a copy of the script. Your files should follow the naming protocol provided, in .wav format, edited, and zipped in a file and uploaded to our drop box. Be sure to check off Janneth Alfaro as the recipient to ensure proper delivery.

If you are a recording artist working in a language other than English, you may also send a demo reel of no more than 3 minutes along with a resume, and we’ll add you to our talent bank.
However, please understand that this request for submission is not an offer of employment.

If we select your prompts, they will be loaded to our voice prompt system and we’ll send you a letter announcing your selection as a winner of the 1-800-Translate Voice Talent Showcase.

Since that letter will be worth no more than the paper it is printed on, I’m curious to see what kind of responses we will get. I suppose it will be nice to have the credit, and if you can get your mom to call 1-800-Translate, she’s bound to be impressed when she hears your voice. Another line item on your resume too.

And one more thing. The first rule of showbiz applies even to a Mickey Mouse gig like this: Don’t call us. We’ll call you.

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