Down the Mousehole : Episode 002
“Crowds at dinners and events are getting noisier and speakers on stage are finding it difficult to be heard…”
“There are three magic words.”
“A good Voice of God… is the living personification of the event brand itself.”
Katie Flamman is an award-winning voice artist, Katie is a Storyteller – she helps clients find the right words to tell their story, and her voice will bring that story to life!
With her own professionally equipped, ipDTL studio, she provides top-quality voiceovers with super-fast turnaround.
Katie is hugely versatile and her reputation across a range of different vocal genres is extensive, embracing Voice of God, corporate, explainer, commercial and character work
Katie was Voice of God for the Mixology Bar Awards 2017 & 2018 and received a One Voice Award 2018 for her work as “Outstanding Live Event Announcer.” Do listen to Katie in action below. Her voice is perfect to introduce or promote an event or show, either pre-recorded or live. Her background in TV News means she can handle live events with aplomb
Katie’s voice has been described as warm, motivational, fresh and confident – and her showreels speak for themselves.
The Mixology Bar Awards – for which as Voice of God, Katie received the One Voice Award 2018 for her work as ”Outstanding Live Event announcer”
Voice of God showreel
Verity Panter has the ability to audibly animate your words. Whether it’s inviting the listener to climb inside a warm, silky narrative or communicating important information with her crisp, clear received pronunciation; Verity delivers a high quality professional performance every time.
Verity is based in London and trained for many years with RADA coach and director Gary Lagden, and collaborated with Gareth Moulton from the Cutting Crew. With a vocal age of 20-30 years old Verity has a melodic, warm voice, which is clear, engaging and friendly. She is a team player, can take direction well and adapt under pressure. Fun but professional to work with, Verity gives every job her full attention to deliver confident and polished performances.
Baileys Woman’s Prize for Fiction
Announcer audio reel
There’s no place to hide – the Queen of Queensbury in York Hall
Peter Dickson is the UK’s most prolific voiceover artist. He has enjoyed a stellar career spanning almost 40 years.
His unique and powerful vocal delivery is the choice of global TV entertainment mogul Simon Cowell. His voice has featured on “Britain’s Got Talent” and “The X Factor” in the UK. In a national poll, he was voted as one of the top three iconic UK voices of the decade.
His voice has featured on over 30 major computer game titles including Fable I and II, Tin Tin, Blades of Time, Everybody’s Golf and Kinect Sports seasons I and II.
He has voiced thousands of TV and Radio commercials, anchored awards ceremonies for some of the world’s biggest brands, launched countless products, appeared in many BAFTA award winning TV and radio productions and he’s worked with most of the biggest producers and stars of UK entertainment.
He was the voice of the London 2012 Olympic Games and his voice features in “I Can’t Sing” – Harry Hill and Steve Brown’s new musical, at the London Palladium which is executive produced by Simon Cowell.
He has his own iphone app: “Peter Dickson’s Pocket Announcer” and his own website www.myruddyvoice.com where fans can get up close and personal. He also runs www.gravyforthebrain.com, a rapidly growing educational e learning platform.
From vocal work on radio and TV commercials, commentary for big international stadium events, blue chip corporates, multimedia games, animation and prime-time TV shows – Peter Dickson a.k.a “Voiceover Man” is at the top of everyone’s list.
A medley of video clips showing Peter Dickson in action
Promotional showreel audio link
Hello and welcome to Three Blind MICE from Radio.Events. I’m your host and the MICE minder in chief, the honorary Doc. Thank you for joining me.
Welcome to Radio.Events and the Three Blind Mice podcast. Thanks for tuning in. We bring you what’s hip and happening behind the scenes of meetings, incentives, conferences, and events. Three Blind Mice – the little pod with a cast of thousands from Radio.Events.
Now I’m going to take the slightly unusual step of not introducing my guests today. I’m going to tease them out to you as it were. What I will tell you is this, as we recorded this episode, my special guests kept me rooted to my headphones. I was listening so intensely and loving the stories so much that on several occasions I almost forgot to ask them the next question. So my apologies for any pauses. Today, we talk all about VOGs. Now, for those of you newish to the business, VOGs are the cornerstone of any live event. A great VOG can transform your event. They can lift your audience to new heights of engagement and heaven forbid if things go slightly astray, expect the unexpected they always say, but on such rare occasions, a great VOG can save the day. Without further ado, let’s get this show on the road and hear from the VOGs themselves. Well, I’m in the company of VOG Royalty, and the first thing I want to ask is what the Dickens is a VOG and what do you actually do. And I’m going to ask that question of our mystery VOG, No. 1?
Well, a VOG… it kind of sounds like a character out of Lord of the Rings, doesn’t it? But a VOG is, it’s just three letters, the Voice of God, that’s what it stands for. The Voice of God is the name given to the disembodied voice that we all hear in many public spaces, events and cultural happenings all over the world and the Voice of God is there principally to direct people to where they need to be to sign post what is coming next at the event and to introduce speakers and various people onto the stage. So it’s an all encompassing, unseen voice to marshall people and tell them what’s happening next. And that’s basically all the Voice of God is. I say ‘all it is’ because there’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s basically what we do. We are unseen, but were ever present.
I guess there are some occasions where the Voice of God is no longer a disembodied voice – that you sometimes have to step into the spotlight as a kind of MC or are you always unseen.
I’m very much seen. I’m standing in the middle of a boxing ring, so I am very visible to the crowd I’m talking to.
Mystery VOG 2 threw me a little bit with the boxing ring sporting event reference. But I vowed to explore that further. I asked, ‘how do you become a Voice of God? Is there a degree or an ‘Ology’ in that? And Mystery VOG 3 explained that.
Well, it really is something that you can fall into. It’s an area of voiceover and all of us do voiceover work, which encompasses narration, commercials, corporate work, airline announcements, all kinds of things. And Voice of God is just one area within that broad range of voiceover jobs. But you do have to have particular skills to be any good at it.
This was a good place to ask my mystery VOGs to reveal themselves and tell us more about their background. I thought I’d live dangerously and tackle the boxing voice of God first. Also known as the queen of Queensbury. Please reveal who you are, what’s your background, and how did you get to be a VOG?
Hello, my name is Verity Panter. My background is as mentioned a voiceover artist and I decided to become a VOG when I was watching a boxing match at Yorke Hall one day and I couldn’t understand anything coming over the loudspeaker. And my husband said, you can do better than that. And I thought, yes, I can. So I went up to the promoter and asked him about it and he very kindly explained the process – that was Steve Goodwin and he said that I need to get licensed and I needed to go to interviews and after he’d explained all the process, he said when I get my license, he was very supportive. women in boxing, that he would hire me.
That is so cool. So are there loads of women who are voice of God’s in boxing.
No, I’m the only one
I thought that was absolutely stunning. The only professional female Voice of God in the boxing ring out there. Talk about breaking through the glass ceiling. Here is a little bit of Verity keeping the ringside in order.
Ladies and gentlemen, we now have the main event of the evening, eight rounds of boxing in the light heavyweight division. The referee Mark Bates is in the ring, the timekeeper, John Smith is at the bell. The boxers are in their corners, and there’s no place to hide. Fighting out of the blue corner in the black and silver shorts weighing in at 12 Stone One, making his 44th appearance in the ring from Middleton Lancashire, Daryll Sharpe and fighting out of the red corner and the white and gold shorts weighing in at 12 stone five with a record of nine wins from Richmond, London. Chris, the Spartan Davis.
I went on to ask Verity if she only did Voice of God for boxing. ‘Verity, is your sole focus boxing or do you do other types of events? Other types of voiceover? ‘
I do prerecorded announcements for various corporate events and award ceremonies such as for the Bailey’s Women of Fiction awards. I did a pre recording for their award winners, so it comes in various different forms.
We have a link to Verity’s Baileys project on the Episode page of our website at Radio.Events.
I then turned to our next mystery Voice of God and I asked her, who is she and how did she get to be a voice of God?
My name is Katie Flamman and I’m a voice actor and mystery voice number three is revealed. My background is in television news. I began my career as a broadcast journalist and I presented news reports and reported on the news as well. I’ve worked for the BBC and ITN and Sky News. I did that for about 10 years, not only as a presenter reporter, but also as a program editor, so after a while I went behind the camera and spent quite a lot of my time in the live news gallery surrounded by the director and the vision mixer and the everybody else and when things went wrong in the live events, as they generally do in news broadcasts, it was down to me to decide what do we do, what’s our plan B, what’s our plan c? I became a voice actor about four years ago and I’ve been very busy working in all different areas of voiceover, but I really love Voice of God work and like Verity, I do some prerecorded award ceremonies, but I also really enjoy doing live events. You get a real buzz from a live event which is very similar to the buzz that I got in the live news environment and that’s what I really love about it.
I then turned to our final mystery Voice of God (VOG 1) and I asked him, who are you and what’s your story Jackanory?
My name is Peter Dickson. I am a voice artist, a voiceover, and I’ve been doing this for something like 41 years now and it’s all I’ve done. I started out rather like Katie in broadcast media. I worked for the BBC for number of years. My very first job actually was as a trainee reporter and a news guy and I worked in news for about four years as a reporter and very quickly sort of realized that journalism wasn’t my forte. I was absolutely terrible at it. I wasn’t really interested in news at all. I quite like the news, but I wasn’t terribly good at gathering news, so I decided to jump ship and went to the presentation department in the BBC where I became a Radio Two announcer. And I worked…I still was involved in news. I was news reading. I was continuity announcing, introducing programs, live presenting and doing continuity work. All those four things, which was a thrilling nine year apprenticeship, if you like, in, in front of the microphone. And I learned so much from my colleagues there and other people around me. So then I went freelance as a voice artist, and I branched out into all the genres that voiceover has to offer, including gaming and corporate video and and all the rest of it. And then quite a few years ago I was asked out of the blue by somebody if I would come and announce at their corporate event, I’d never done one before and was pleasantly surprised that I was reasonably good at it and enjoyed whole experience enormously. I was working as we all do on these big events with what would more or less what Katie and I would recognize as like a gallery, a TV gallery. We’ve got a director, we’ve got sound, we’ve got vision mixers because very often these events have cameras for recording or for projecting images onto the big screens. There are production systems and so we sit in like a gallery set up with me at the mic. I usually sit next to the director. We all wearing headphones and the director calls the shots and cues me and all the other elements of the event. So I really enjoyed that. Like Katie’s just said, it’s quite exciting and thrilling and and I really enjoy using my voice to lend importance to an event and to help raise the levels of excitement and make people feel that they know what’s happening next and the guests of the event can then relax, they can feel that someone’s in charge and they’re going to be told what to do, when to do it. I do enjoy being a Voice of God and it’s just another thing that I do along with all the other bits and pieces that I do, so it’s something I really, really do enjoy doing.
I personally always thought that the Voice of God, a good one is the living personification of the event brand itself. It is often under appreciated until you’re in the hands of a true professional, say like my guests here. They bring that added sparkle. Can we imagine a sporting event, say boxing without the hype of the ring voice, or an award ceremony without the warmth and the excitement to the vocal reveal or heaven forbid, and Peter will always be modest, but what would our living rooms and iconic TV programs such as X Factor and Big Brother be like without those famous hallmark voices? They after all a kind of broadcast ‘Voice of God’, but I know Peter as one of our foremost voice talents, sees the live art of a Voice of God as quite different to the broadcast announcer type roles. Given Peter’s considerable versatility, I felt rightly directed to ask, ‘how does he switch gears between say X Factor, a corporate presentation, or even a conference where he might be specifically engaged as a voice of God type role?
Some events do want me to use that rather large, ridiculous commanding voice that I have and they enjoy the association with that show or the shows that I do and that’s one side of it. There are other events, of course, that require a much straighter approach and I’m perfectly happy to do that as well. In fact, it’s almost a relief sometimes to speak in my normal voice. If I’m doing something like a medical conference, they want me to just to be normal and that’s fine and that’s part of the skill of a Voice of God and that’s why I like to mingle with the people beforehand. There’s normally a drinks reception. I like to kind of listen in and wander amongst them and try and get a feel for how they are and every single event is different. It’s quite fascinating to me like, like any comedian will tell you, every audience is different. Every event is different. Every event has its own ebb and flow, and rhythm and its own personality and part of the Voice of God’s job is to tune into that and to be as close to them as you can be. That’s my advice. If anybody wants to know how to do it, you just simply have to sound like you come from their world.
As we were talking about being a Voice of God and the whole aspect of voice history, I was curious, so I asked my guests, ‘is it just about the voice?’
I’d say just the voice is pretty low down the list. It’s a lot of training that goes into being a good voiceover artist. I’d say that the skills that you need to be a live event announcer are very different, let’s say from the skills that you need in other areas of voiceover. Not very different, but for example, if you are voicing a television commercial, you need to be the conscience behind the characters that you’re seeing on the screen. You don’t want to be loud and in their face because nobody wants to hear that. If you’re recording a radio commercial, again, that’s slightly different. If you’re recording a company training video, they might want somebody a bit more chatty in a little bit more friendly and again, if you’re recording a Voice of God, you need to be commanding. You need to be authoritative – they need to stop chit chatting at the bar and listen to you because the event’s going to start in 10 minutes or whatever it might be. So like Verity just said, training is absolutely crucial because it isn’t just about having a good voice. It’s about understanding the requirements of all the different areas of voiceover and Voice of God is kind of quite particular I think
I would add to that that preparation is also key. I always like to encourage the client to forward me the script for the event at least a day before and I will review that script and I will very often make small amendments to it. One of my great bugbears is when introducing guests onto the stage, clients will very often write the name of the person followed by their designation, so John Brown, managing director of Acme Inc and whatever it might be, and one of the great rules of introducing anybody onto stage, is you must always end with their name, never their title or designation because it’s almost like an unseen or understood cue or some sort of unwritten rule that audiences will always respond to a person’s name rather than their designation or job title. So you always end on the name. It’s amazing how many people write scripts and always say, ‘now please welcome to the stage, John Smith, the managing director and your waffle on and they’ve usually got long titles and by the time I’ve finished reading the title, the audience has peaked after I said name and then they have to wait until I’ve finished reading the title. So I always swap that around and end on the name. That’s part of the preparation though. And, also I know there’s nothing worse than getting someone’s name wrong. So I always go to great lengths, particularly where there are difficult names to pronounce, be they foreign names or strange names that you’ve not encountered before. There are many of them in Welsh for instance – a very tricky language for me to get to grips with. So I always like to go back to the client and say, can you find out and ask them to call me so I can phonetically write their name on the script. So come the night, I’m introducing them correctly. And then they don’t feel awkward or embarrassed in front of their peers, you know, so that there’s lots of preparation like that that goes on prior to getting to the event itself.
I completely agree with Peter. I always always say the boxer’s name last. I talk about the fight, I announce the rounds and what division it’s in. And then in comes the fighter and his name is the last thing I say.
One of the biggest events that I was involved in was the London 2012 Olympic Games. I was the commentator at the open air beach volleyball event in Horse Guards Parade. And that was an extraordinary event to be involved in not least of all because it was the Olympic Games, but because we were introducing onto the field of play, you know, athletes from lots of different countries in Brazil, Croatia, and these were coming at you thick and fast and very often we’d only get the names at the last minute. And I remember back then dashing around trying to find these people to ask them how they said their names. I think I got most of them right. But I think one or two did slip through the net, but part of the skill is to be able to write on your script phonetically so, when you come to the name, you’re not thrown, so you actually get it right.
Talking of name challenges when playing Voice of God and industry awards – here is a great short example from one of Katie’s recent projects – the Mixology Awards and it started with the client brand itself and almost every winner.
The Mixology Bar Award for best European mixologist presented by Linie Aquavit and the nominees are ….
Wasn’t that great? Do go and check it out for yourself. The link is on our website, www.Radio.Events. Now I wanted to go back to something that Verity told us about at the beginning of the episode when she smashed through that glass ceiling to be British boxing’s, only female Voice of God. I was curious what it must really be like? Surrounded by all that testosterone and maybe a somewhat plastered and predominantly male audience?
Well, I’d like to say that I found the Boxing community to be very welcoming. When I went through my licensing process, I thought I just needed to turn up to the interview and read some fight cards and sound good, which I did, but they asked me lots of technical questions about the weight divisions and the different outcomes and how to read a scorecard and I failed abysmally on that, but the guy’s interviewing me were lovely and said, you’re great. You’ve got just what it takes. Please go away. Learn this. This is what you need to do. Then come back to us. So a few months later I went off and I got a mentor, which is actually Brett Hollywood, who’s an MC as well. I went to lots of fights. He let me announce some of his early fights in the ring, so I got to have a practice and I went back to my interview and passed the second time. So it was quite an ordeal just to get the license. It wasn’t what I expected and when I passed, the gentlemen interviewing me – the officials on the British boxing board, were thrilled and when I went ringside and sat, I do sit. I’m the only woman sitting with all the officials ringside. I was in a line of 10 men on Saturday night, but they’re all so welcoming, so supportive and telling me what a brilliant job I did that I found it really welcoming. With regards to the crowd. They’re predominantly male with some females watching as well. Yorke Hall, which is a venue that I present at quite often – because the drinking is only in the bar and you’re not allowed to bring the drinks into the Hall. I wouldn’t say it’s a particularly drunk environment and a lot of people there are very serious about their boxing. Yorke Hall is really the historic iconic place, sort of home of boxing in the country. Every boxer that makes it big one, everybody wants to fight there. It is the place to fight and everybody that goes to watch are serious boxing fans and no, I’ve never been heckled. I expected to be heckled. When I first got in the ring, I thought, oh goodness, how are the crowd going to react to me? And it was very supportive. I wasn’t heckled. I wasn’t wolf whistled, I just got on and did my job. However, I would say that if we’re talking about sort of the male aspect of it, that would be more on social media. On Twitter, the comments come out, but that’s a slightly different thing.
Is that something you ignore?
Yes. I ignore that. I don’t get involved with that because it’s not worth. It’s not worth commenting.
The other day I was watching a clip of Verity doing her stuff, cue cards in hand, and I watched the referee come over to brief Verity on something. There she was frantically making more notes, so clearly being a Voice of God is a very fluid thing, whether it’s a sporting event, an awards ceremony or at a conference. Verity was tested with exactly those rapidly changing dynamics at her first bout as a professional voice, when one of the big names in the local boxing community sadly passed away. And Verity had to make the solemn announcement to 700 people as a precursor to 10 tolls of the bell which is rung as a mark of respect. So as the Voice of God, you have to be able to assess the mood of the audience, quickly command their attention and often take them on an emotionally charged journey, the twists and turns, the lows and highs. I asked Peter Dickson how he manages such situations.
I’ve found that there are three magic words that if they are repeated at least two or three times, will always subdue a crowd to the point where they can hear you. Those words are ‘ladies and gentlemen’, and I know it sounds quite sort of trite and it’s rather old fashioned, isn’t it? Ladies and gentlemen. There’s even discussion whether ‘ladies and gentlemen’ is relevant in the 21st century anymore because of all the talk about gender fluidity and so on. But I still think ladies and gentlemen is great – those words when they’re said. You know if you just hear somebody say, Ladies and Gentlemen, and you pause for one second and you say, Ladies and Gentlemen, Ladies and gentlemen, you say it three times. By the third time you’ll have reduced the noise level in the room by at least two thirds. And then when you start speaking, then the other third who still haven’t quite woken up to the fact that they’re being spoken to will be told to shut up by people on the next table and then you can carry on. There are other little tricks as well. The greatest one I’ve found for quietening an audience is not necessarily saying those words, but also just a simple shush on the mike will quieten the crowd quite quickly. There’s something back in the mists of time. I think it’s when we were kids, we would hear a teacher maybe or a parent go ‘shush’ and we all kind of what, uh, why, why are we being asked to. There’s somebody telling us to be quiet, shush. So that works really, really effectively. I’ve found that over the years, crowds at dinners and events are getting noisier and speakers on stage are finding it difficult to be heard, and so it’s part of the Voice of God’s job on behalf of the client who’s paying a lot of money for the event and other people in the room who do want to hear what’s being said, it’s part of my job to try and just kind of keep a lid on that noise. So a simple little shush noise through my pa mic will do wonders to drop the decibel level of that crowd down by about 50 percent to allow the person on stage to be heard.
This seemed like a great place to briefly pause this episode and let you get back to the day job or the domestics. I hope you’re enjoying listening to the three Gods, Katie Flamman, Verity Panter and Peter Dickson. You can find out more about them on our website at www. Radio.Events. Oh, and don’t miss the second part of the interview. In the next episode of Three Blind Mice. And, one last thing, if you want to know anything about this episode or the guests who’ve been on it or you’d like to get in touch with them, all the information is on the website at Radio.Events. Thank you for joining me and go safe out there.
Three Blind Mice is edited and mixed by Sam Williams at RightRoyal Audio.com. Right Royal Audio – be heard loud and clear.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Three Blind Mice here on Radio.Events. If you’ve enjoyed the show, please share it with your friends. Do head over to iTunes, give us a rating and leave a review and don’t forget you can send us a voice message directly through our Voicepipe at Radio.Events. Until next time, play safe.
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