Who’s holding you accountable to reach your voice-over goals? And who’s keeping you honest about your approach? Giving you challenging or even counter-intuitive direction to stretch your abilities? Or informing you about changes and trends in the industry?
You can look to online forums and content for guidance and information, and you can learn from auditions, but you’re not giving yourself a fighting chance if you don’t practice. And if you approach an audition as a learning experience, that’s all it will be. Being a voice actor requires thick skin and adaptability. That’s why it’s good to train, and why it’s great to workout with a group.
When you get together with a group of voice actors who have varying levels of experience and insights, different sounds and instincts, and different tastes, you open yourself up to reads and approaches you might have never considered. You’ll get criticism that can only come from other people, which is valuable in a business that is all about how other people perceive your voice. Beyond the craft of voice-over, you inevitably end up talking about home studios, classes, and resources for navigating the industry. The perks are endless.
So once you’ve got a place with a microphone and 4-10 enthusiastic voice actors, what do you need for a great VO workout group?
Things to Read.
Yeah, that’s it. Voice-over workout groups don’t need the best tech, a professional studio, or an engineer. Think about what you want out of your exercise when you go to the gym: some days you work the arms, other days are for chest and core, and some are for cardio. You can pay to use a bunch of fancy equipment in an air-conditioned space, but you can also do all of it from home using your own body weight and get the same results. The same goes for VO workouts: spend some days on radio and TV ads, animation, promo, narration, trailers, and get feedback from all of the other actors in the room. At what point is the microphone or engineer making a difference?
You should ask yourself whether you’re working out for home auditions, in-person auditions, or game conditions—so you’re not caught off guard when you get to a session—and structure the workout so that you’re not just reading copy with no intention. Are you exercising your performance skills? Improvisation? Cold reads? Speed? Clarity? A certain kind of read? Or do you need some technical advice? Pool your resources to rent a professional studio for one night, and throw an experienced engineer into the mix to give you tips about studio etiquette and mic technique.
The rest of the time, work from someone’s home studio, and chip in for a pizza.
Take turns directing so you can see what it’s like to give direction and get a better understanding of what directors want. Better yet, invite an aspiring engineer, director, copywriters, or screenwriters you know to your workout so they can hear their work out loud. The big secret: it doesn’t have to be a workout exclusively for voice actors.
If there’s anything that distinguishes a workout group as great, it’s the people who show up. They don’t have to be voice artists: what you need are ears. Anyone who’s honest in the feedback they give, and working toward getting better at their craft or skill can learn from everyone else in the room.
The workout group can be exactly that— just a group of people working out— or it can be an instrument for building a network with the added perks of keeping you sharp. The best workout groups aren’t going to tell you that you’re brilliant every time you read something or distract you with incredible microphones and sound equipment. A good performance comes through just fine on an iPhone. The great workout groups are made of people committed to growing stronger together.