5 Reasons Asking for Feedback Is Such a Loaded Question

Seems simple enough: You have a brand new voiceover demo (or film reel, or headshots and résumé), which you spent some time and money on, and now you want an objective opinion of what you will be using to promoting yourself. So, why are you either getting completely contradictory feedback, or (worse) nothing at all? What gives?

Granted, you may want an objective assessment of whether your demos are competitive and effective, and most talent agents and industry professionals want to help, but here are five reasons why asking for feedback is such a loaded question:

1. If they offered every one feedback, that’s all they’d be doing all day long and not getting their own work done. Most talent agents and producers will offer feedback if they know you and they honestly feel the situation warrants it, but for the most part they’ll listen and discern whether they can use you or not. In many instances they’ll only offer feedback simply because you asked and they are trying to be accommodating. Many forget what input they gave you or change their minds after hearing your tracks again at a later date. This happens more often than you might expect, and it honestly doesn’t help you much.

2. It’s likely the feedback you’ll receive will completely contradict what another industry professional may have suggested, which will only serve to confuse you. Even if you’re willing and able to pay the studio/producer to accommodate changes you might be offered, you may not end up with an improvement over what you’ve already presented. Keep in mind the individuals offering you feedback aren’t in the studio while these changes are being made. Even seasoned ears may need to hear the edit in the studio to honestly discern whether the change is effective or not.

3. It’s honestly not their job. Again, agents typically want to help, but offering you feedback on your promotional materials prior to including you in their talent pool might not happen for the simple reason they simply don’t have time. You’re expected to arrive on your potential talent agent’s doorstep fully prepared and ready to work, and this includes your demos. Agents require current, competitive promotional materials to submit you for work. If you offer half-baked, almost there, “this is the best I can do” excuses for your demos and headshots, it will only result in undermining their confidence in you and your overall professionalism. “Close enough” is a complete miss—especially when casting boils down either you or your competition booking the job.

4. Asking for feedback inadvertently undermines your potential agent or client’s confidence in you. Your promotional materials are meant to define you as a brand and as a professional. The fact is, in lieu of you having any tangible experience or objectivity, asking for feedback will often only serve to confuse you, whether the advice you’re offered is astute or not. Without the benefit of distance and experience, truly constructive feedback may register as a complete and utter pan to you.

5. No one wants to be put in a position to reject or make you feel bad if your demos don’t stack up to their professional standards. Certainly you may doubt yourself when you’re just starting out. You have to take a great leap of faith to present yourself with confidence. Every opportunity will build from there. Present your tracks with confidence and without excuses. Stand behind your promo. It’s the professional thing to do.

When it comes down to it, what matters above all else is what you think. If you’re confident your demos honestly sound like you and offer the best of your abilities, then seek out talent agencies that rep voice talent in your wheelhouse. Commerce is confidence, and your job is to instill confidence in those you hope will rep or hire you. When you walk into an audition and read as if you’re unsure of yourself, then you won’t likely land the job. Since your voiceover demos are auditioning for you, the same theory applies.

Best advice: Listen to a number of demos on the Actors’ Sound Advice site. Listen to talent that match your gender, your relative age, vocal range, and type. Assess for yourself. There’s no denying a demo that defines a talent, sounds familiar, and sounds professional.

Like this advice? Check out more from our Backstage Experts!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Kate McClanaghan
Kate McClanaghan is a casting director, producer, and founder of both Big House Casting & Audio (Chicago and Los Angeles) and Actors’ Sound Advice. She’s a seasoned industry veteran and actor who has trained actors and produced demos for more than 5,000 performers over her 30 years in the business.