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Secret Agent Man

Anatomy of a Meeting -- Part Two

Anatomy of a Meeting -- Part Two
Last week, we covered everything leading up to your big meeting with yours truly. So let's pick up right where we left off, with you sitting in reception, waiting for my assistant to bring you inside.

Now riddle me this: What's racing through your mind? I'm betting you're rehearsing what you're going to say when you're in my office. Well, that's a bad move. You don't want to get locked into a game plan, because you have no idea what's going to happen when we're eye to eye. So stay loose. It's okay to have an agenda, but you need to be prepared for anything.

After what feels like forever, my assistant finally walks over and tells you I'm ready. (She knows this because I sent her an instant message. That's how we communicate.) You get up, and she leads you down a long, winding hallway to my office. It's the large one that smells like money. Once you're inside, she introduces us and then she takes off.

As you sit down, you've got a few moments to get a feel for the room. There's plenty to take in—the artwork on the wall, some framed pictures on my desk, that sort of thing. These are all clues about my personality, and they could come in handy if the conversation starts to run dry. A smart actor knows how to tap into the environment and use it to his or her advantage.

After saying hello, I'll usually ask for your picture and résumé. (Yes, I know I have it, so don't tell me I have it. The damn thing could be anywhere, and I'm not in the mood to go searching.) This is the time when most of you make your first mistake, by apologizing for your crappy pictures or the résumé you forgot to update. I usually respond by rolling my eyes. This isn't the time to make excuses. Excuses are for losers. The key to any successful meeting is to be prepared. Your tools should be in place before you even think about meeting with an agent. So hand me your picture and résumé with pride. And that goes double for your demo reel.

Guess what: The time has arrived for us to talk. That means you've got about 15 minutes to make an impression. Use that time wisely. Don't blow it by talking about yourself. Instead, try to make a personal connection. Make an effort to get to know me. Impress me with all the homework you did about my agency. Give me a reason to sign you.

At some point during our meeting, I'll probably ask about what you want to accomplish. And I swear to God, I'll kill you if you say, "I just want to work." I hate that line. Hell, I don't even know what it means. Are you saying you'll do anything? What about gay porn? Seriously, you need to have goals, and they should be specific. That's what impresses agents. A much better response would be: "If we end up working together, I want to book my first guest-star role inside of four months." Now that's something we can talk about.

As an actor looking to score, you should look at these meetings as first dates: You've got two people in a room. They're sizing each other up, and they're both wondering if it's going to go any further. I love that metaphor, and you need to keep that image in mind when you're meeting with an agent. So give me a reason to go out with you again. And who knows? If you play your cards right, you might get lucky, if you know what I mean.

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