Voice-over, often called voice acting, is a highly specialized profession. If you want to gain an understanding of this business, one of the first things you must do is confront the biggest misconception that all it takes to be a success in voice-over is to have a great voice.
A great voice alone will not ensure you a spot in this highly competitive market. A good voice-over coach will clarify what you need to bring to the game and guide you in every aspect of the business.
One thing to keep in mind when searching for expert voice-over training is that every coach will have a unique perspective on the business, based upon their own training and life experience. That’s good! I am a huge proponent of seeking the expertise of as many coaches as possible, as each one has something valuable to offer.
I’d like to share my vetting process for finding great voice-over coaching, based on many years of experience as a broadcaster who made the transition into voice-acting.
A great voice-over coach will:
- Make sure you have perfected pronunciation, breathing, and comprehension.
- Emphasize the need to be a master of vocabulary.
- Encourage you to explore the “acting” part of voice acting and acknowledge the influence of working actors in the voice-over field.
- Expose you to the teachings of other prominent actors, coaches, and casting directors, and encourage you to look for “universal truths.” An example of a universal truth is “specificity books jobs” (which means when we make specific choices about who we are, who we are speaking to, and how we feel in a script, we are much more likely to book the job).
- Emphasize the need to stay current with voice acting trends.
- Spend more time talking about you, rather than themselves.
- Tell it to you straight.
- Be your biggest cheerleader.
- Encourage you to grow three-dimensionally, so that you have more to bring to your acting.
- Have a specific process when doing script analysis.
- Push you to take risks and make your work dynamic
- Make interesting choices with reading off the copy.
- Reinforce the fact that one of the most important things you can do to become a great voice-actor is to discover what is unique about you and bring that to the copy each and every time.
- Make sure you are having fun!
There are many other aspects to being a success in the voice acting profession, such as recording proficiency and marketing. Just be sure to not put the cart before the horse: don’t put yourself out there until you have a great handle on who you are and what you bring to the table!
Finally, great voice-over coaching will encourage you to be courageous and patient. As Steven Pressfield, the author of The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle, puts it, “The professional concentrates on the work and allows the rewards to come, whatever they like.”
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About the Author
Nancy Wilson is an Audition Mastery coach and West Coast demo producer. She is also a voice-actor and a member of the SAG/AFTRA Radio Plays committee.