Having another trained ear listen in on your work can improve your work as a voice artist.
I’d get a phone call from my agent telling me what casting director to go see and when. Then I would take public transportation into New York City to arrive at said office on time. Next, I’d wait waaaaaay past my appointed time (at least most days) to be called in to read for the part.
The entire endeavor took several hours; the audition itself rarely lasted longer than five minutes.
While the logistics of all this were often a drag, there was an upside, and a vitally important one: getting feedback from other people. Having regular access to the trained and experienced ears of the casting directors, engineers and other voice-over actors I was constantly interacting with gave me an outside perspective on my work. That perspective helped me to be constantly learning, growing and (hopefully) improving as a voice actor.
Then, with advances in technology and changes in industry practices, a major shift took place. I went from being part of a vibrant voice-over village to sitting alone in my basement in my pajamas in front of a mic all day long. I quickly lost perspective on what I had to offer as a voice artist, and whether or not what I had to offer was any good. I was missing those crucial outside ears that always helped me gain valuable insight into my work and the quality of it.
These days, as voice-over artists we are expected to be our own casting directors, engineers and producers. Then we send our work out into the void, rarely getting a response to what we’ve created, let alone any feedback on it. So, it’s up to us to seek out that necessary exposure to input from the outside world. Here are some ideas on how to do just that.
1. Enlist the help of people who know you. Partners, friends, family members and colleagues are all trained in knowing what the “real you” sounds like. Choose people whose judgement you value and ask them for their opinions of your work. They can offer valuable insight about your delivery style and whether or not you’re connected to the content in a way that sounds authentic to them.
2. Become part of a real life voice-over community. Yes, there are online discussion groups, LinkedIn communities, and tons of voice-over forums out there on the interwebs. But nothing beats connecting with real, live actual human people. Go to meetup.com, punch in voice-over, then step away from your computer and get out there! If there isn’t already an established voice-over meetup near you, start one yourself. Getting to know other voice artists and consistently listening to one another’s work allows you to hone your own critical listening skills, as well as benefiting from the objective perspectives of others.
3. Attend voice-over workouts and pro-jam sessions. These are periodic gatherings for working voice-over professionals that are structured like auditions, where participants perform live for and get immediate feedback from the group. Surrounding yourself with those who have more experience than you can be intimidating at first, but their criticisms and suggestions WILL make you bette
Soon enough, you’ll come to trust using use your own ears purposefully, so when those outside ears aren’t around, you can feel more confident in your own assessment of your work.
Growth doesn’t happen without change, and change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. So seek out opportunities like these to get yourself heard. Not only will you fine-tune your skills, but you will most likely meet some great, like-minded people – and get out of those pajamas!
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Claudine Ohayon is an Emmy-award winning producer, actor, and voice-over artist. She has voiced commercials and promos for leading brands like Verizon, Listerine, MasterCard, Betty Crocker, Disney World, JC Penney, Pepsi, Sony Music, USA Network, ESPN, VH1, MTV, and many more. For more of her work, visit claudineohayon.com