How can you, as a voice-over artist, be the most creatively productive in a world of “Do! Do! Do!”, when to perform, you need to connect to just being?
If you find yourself “doing” too much and you make no time to be creative, you can feel drained. I know I do. Sitting in front of a computer all day can create stagnant energy. Innately, you are an actor, an artist, a person who connects to being human through your voice, your breath, and your imagination – creating worlds that are unseen. In essence, you are a human being.
Too much “DO!” can equal a lot of “doo” in the end. You don’t want to be a hamster on a wheel going around in circles. You do want to be busy like a bee pollinating flowers, like a creative voice-over fairy.
Well, okay, maybe that’s a little out there for most people.
At the end of the day, your job as voice-over artists is to make people who are listening to our voices feel things, learn things. Your voice can still them into silence, into really listening. Your voice and the words you say can make people feel things, or think differently, or go buy a product, or look at the world in a completely new way. People can go on little adventures because of your voice-over work! Amazing!
Beyond doing all the marketing and online setup and networking and busywork, the voice-over artists’ job is pretty simple. Show up to the studio, focus, have fun, and make it look easy. When it feels not easy, just breathe. Your breath will lead you back to ease and connect you to your voice.
If you rush and show up to the studio being stressed out or nervous from all the “Do! Do! Do!” of the world and you don’t let it go, it makes it more difficult for you to do the job you were hired for. You won’t be in the moment, acting. Your mind will be busy worrying or wondering if you are good enough, or why there was so much traffic on the way here, or why someone didn’t smile at you when you walked in. The list goes on and on. All these distractions buzzing around in your head need to be quieted completely so you can be fully present, have fun being creative, and provide your wonderful creative energy to the director, the studio staff and most importantly, the client.
When I first started out in voice-over, I came in with a theater acting background which taught me a lot about good acting and how to create characters and connect to my voice. Being in the moment was key for me creating a nuanced performance.
Sure, I had a lot to learn. On the job, I learned to rise above sessions where the producers may not know what they want, or where there are too many cooks in the kitchen and I was being given multiple ways to say a line, or someone behind the glass is simply having a hard day. When this happens, your job is still the same: to act, be in a positive mindset, and breathe life into the words on the page. The more relaxed and in the moment you are, the more likely you will do a good job. And, that will bring you more success in voice-over. When I remembered the simple words “Fun, Focus, Ease, and Breathe”, my job became easier.
So, what can you do to calm yourself when you are nervous or stressed out or just not having a great day and it’s time to record your first demo, or go to your first job, or have a meeting with an important client?
First, you can practice creating a fun warm-up routine that puts your body and mind in a positive, creative state. This can mean different things to different people.
You can play your favorite song in the car and sing along. You can vocalize in the car, letting out all your tension. You can talk to other cars in funny characters that make you laugh. You can visualize a happy vibe all around you that comes into the studio like a magical light, making everyone smile. You can imagine yourself connecting and listening to the director, collaborating with an open heart and creative mind.
If you find yourself nervous, breathe, acknowledge those nerves, and channel that energy into your performance. Nerves are actually you just being excited. It’s a good thing. It’s normal. Don’t push them down and pretend they don’t exist. That actually makes them stay longer. Accept your nerves if you have them, and set the intention that your nerves are the fuel for an unexpected, great performance. Voice-over acting can be like jumping out of an airplane. You don’t always know what’s going to happen but it’s exhilarating; scary and fun all at the same time. There’s a lot of improv involved in VO, so if you keep that in mind instead of wondering if they like you or if you sound good or if your director likes you….you’ll be fine.
In the end, if you find yourself “rushing” to market, to warm-up your voice, to get the words on the page “right”, to get the job done, or rushing to find the voice for a new character, then you are “Do! Do! Do”-ing on your being! Your job, first and foremost, is to be creative, be connected to yourself and your voice and then DO everything to assist that connection. BE YOURSELF. Then, do VO.
Ultimately, voice-over is a continuous lesson in connecting to yourself.
If you like yourself and your voice and you enjoy your job, they will enjoy your performance. The easier you make it look, the more jobs you will book! Hey, that rhymes.
Of course, there’s lots of training involved to make it look easy. But voice-over is like life: it’s not about getting to the goal (doing), it’s about enjoying the journey (being), that mindset can make your VO adventure much more fun.