Slating at the beginning of a commercial audition seems like a simple enough task: you look at the camera in a personable manner and say your name. What’s so hard about that? Well, an actor’s style of slating has the power to make a positive or negative first impression. Slating competently helps you stand out among the competition; slating poorly can leave your audition tape overlooked. Here are a few tips to make sure your slating technique gets you noticed for all the right reasons.

First of all, you’ve made a real effort to procure professional, quality headshots to make that important good first impression to casting directors. But did you know the first photo the casting director’s clients see is not your well-selected headshot? Instead, it’s a quick thumbnail photo the camera operator snaps when you come in to slate. The company for which you’re auditioning to represent has a group of individuals who are highly invested in finding the best match for the part. And they are involved in the talent-selecting process. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for these actor thumbnails to feature closed eyes or unready facial expressions. You, however, can make the most of your photo opportunity by facing the camera with a natural smile or a pleasant, relaxed expression and holding still for a couple seconds without blinking before slating. Those two seconds or so can make you appear likable, confident and open-eyed for the production and clients sifting through the numerous actor thumbnail photos. 

After your picture is taken and it’s time to slate, it’s important to continue making a good first impression as you introduce yourself. Everyone involved in the casting process will be assessing your type, voice, essence, and body language to see if you’re right for the spot. As you briefly greet and introduce yourself “to the camera,” it can help to imagine that you’re speaking to a person you are glad to be meeting. Here again, this seems like a simple task, but it’s surprising just how much can go askew. Just as Goldilocks didn’t want porridge too hot or too cold, those viewing your audition can be turned off by overly enthusiastic, impossibly quiet, oddly loud, distantly proud or too giggly kinds of speech–to mention a few. Rather, keep your body still so it remains in frame, and pleasantly say, “Hi, I’m Hillary Jackson,” or “Hello, my name is Jonathan Piers,” for example, in a natural, genuine tone. Keep your eyes on the camera, but be as relaxed as possible. It’s a good idea to practice at home in front of the mirror.

Many actors find slating too basic to practice, but keep in mind the casting decision makers often don’t have enough time to view every actor’s full audition tape due to time constraints or other pressures, and you don’t want to give them any reason to cut yours off before the good part: your actual audition. So make the most of this opportunity to make a positive, albeit, digital connection.