Before you leave for a voice-over recording session …

We recently wrote about what to take to a recording studio session. But except for a pencil, reading glasses and business cards, a lot of it was optional. In many ways, what you do before you leave is more important, and not so easily skipped. One of the most important factors is the avoidance of stress. Having a checklist and a regular regimen can help with that. Here’s a sensible routine to follow.

The night before, have a sensible dinner, with plenty of fluid. Skip alcohol, and especially avoid red wine. Whatever its long-term health effects, in the immediate term it can affect your voice. It could also cause you to wake up with a headache and/or nasal congestion. (Effects of red wine vs. white may vary by person.)

Get to bed on time and have a full night’s sleep.

When you wake, have a glass of water or two, and some more at regular periods. Give it time to hydrate your body, and you won’t be thirsty or waterlogged during the session.

Dress business casual, in soft materials (non-noisy, nothing stiff or crinkly). Polyester sometimes makes noise against itself, so soft cotton is best. Choose quiet, soft-soled shoes, and avoid jangling jewelry.

Read a bit, just a warm up, don’t wear out your voice.

Breakfast should be just enough to tide you over till lunch. But be sure to have it. No grumbling tummy, please! Avoid dairy products, spicy or acidic foods, alcohol and carbonated soda. Coffee and black tea are sometimes of concern. Herbal tea might be best.

Brush your teeth, floss and mouthwash. Shower but avoid perfume or scented deodorant, etc. You’ll be better appreciated (or at least not unfavorably noticed) by those who share the mic or come after you.

Fill your reusable water bottle and close tightly.

Buy your train ticket and/or subway pass ahead of time, or have exact bus fare. (IMPORTANT: Check your bag monthly or so, to be sure the ticket or pass hasn’t expired.) If you travel by car, be sure you have enough gas or allow extra time. Also, check the car a few hours before. We know of a case where the talent was all set to go, but found their apartment building’s garage door had jammed. More commonly, departure time is not when you want to learn you have a dead battery or flat tire. Consider taking the train rather than driving. You may arrive more relaxed.

Check traffic or mass-transit reports on the radio or online. Allow extra time for the worst possible scenario, so that you’re sure to arrive at the studio’s front desk 15 minutes before the scheduled session.

If the session is later in a hectic day, and you can take a 20-minute “time-out” or even a nap, fine. But set two alarms, and don’t be late to the studio. Repeat, be early rather than late, even if you wind up cooling your heels in a coffee shop for a while.

Add session-specific items to your Go Bag, such as the script, studio directions and phone number, and people’s names. And don’t forget the bag!

Feeling congested? We suggest avoiding over the counter nasal sprays unless recommended by a physician, although in a pinch a pure-saline spray might help control a nasal allergy attack. If you have persistent rhinitis, check with your doctor, but consider Flonase®, which is not an over-the-counter product, although it doesn’t have full effect until taken for a day or two.

If you’re feeling seriously under par (if you’re ill or not sounding like the voice they hired), and there was no time to warn your client, But if there is time to let the client know, do the professional thing – warn them and let them decide their course of action. And remember that spreading respiratory illness in a vocally-based industry is not appreciated.

So there’s yet another reason to plan ahead, stick to a schedule, live a life of moderation and regular hours, and stay healthy! Well, at stay hydrated and do your voice over practice daily.