Most newbies to voice over seem to fret a lot about “the competition”.
In these times, in any professional environment, one will encounter countless others out there trolling for clients. The voice over world is no exception. When I was in college, if you wanted to teach in a public or private school when you got out, you were almost guaranteed a position somewhere. In the first quarter of the 21st Century, this is no longer the case–in teaching, or almost any other endeavor.
There are literally thousands of people out there looking for voice over gigs. The good news is that most of them aren’t that good. In fact, if I were doing the hiring, I would only consider fewer than 5% to be worthy of doing the work out there. Why? Because a vast majority have been lured into the business by voice over training mills or coaches that never should have encouraged them to get into this business in the first place. Others who initially showed potential didn’t get enough training before they did their demos, and went out into the job market with one hand tied behind them. They simply couldn’t ace the auditions.
Before venturing forth into the voice over world, you need to have a professional in-depth evaluation of your basic skills and instincts, as well as your grasp of English language dynamics. If the outcome is positive, you should embark on a training regimen that addresses the areas you need to fix, and one that ultimately gives you the ability to nail down the real message of the script, and demonstrate to your client that you can put that message across to the listener in a natural, believable, meaningful way.
The ultimate goal is to teach you to become your own best director and critic. If you have done this diligently, you won’t have to worry about “the competition”. All of your focus has been trained on being the best you can be.
One last thought: Never, never rest on your laurels after you achieve some success. The best people with whom I have worked always want to get better, and they continue to work persistenty to that end.
As I have listened carefully to the performances of some of the best voice over talents in the business over the years, as well as those of stage and film actors, I have observed strong connections in how the dramatic content of the script related to the grammar fundamentals I had learned in school. On the negative side of these observations, I watched many professional actors working on stage in choice roles lose the approval of their audience because they didn’t fully understand the phrasing and structure of the lines they were trying to communicate, not to mention the basics of reading comprehension and meaning. Many voice over training professionals do not understand this relationship.
Most of my beginning students share these shortcomings. They initially fail to grasp how to determine which words are important and which are just connective tissue or redundant, and they do not know how to apply those observations to the delivery of a script–this is a fundamental skill to learn in voice over training.
After over twenty years of recording these observations, I have written my first book about voice over. I hope it will motivate the buyers of the book to deeply explore the dramatic possibilities that lie within the structural dynamics of the English language, especially at a time when the educational system is generally failing to teach students to love and use the English language effectively, as well as to inspire in them a passion for reading.
Very few scripts present the voice over artist with a phrase or sentence he or she hasn’t heard in real life, often many times. The voice over artist draws from that experience. Just because it sits there written on a page doesn’t mean that the thought process for delivering it should be any different from what you’ve experienced in real life.
An amazing number of people read aloud without knowing the meaning of what they are reading. Many read in a droning mode that elicits little or no effect on the listener. Moreover, many corporate CEOs and politicians have the ability to mesmerize an audience as they speak spontaneously, but the minute they begin to read from a script, some emotionally turn to stone by comparison.
It is absolutely vital that you fully understand the script before you deliver one word of it. If it is a particularly difficult, industry-specific, technical, or medical script, then at least try to get a general sense of it. If you know, for example, that the solution in beaker A must be poured into beaker B and then heated to form a thick, jellied solution, it doesn’t matter that sodium carbonate is in beaker A and phenolphthalein is in beaker B. You have a sense of what is going on in the process and can transmit that to the listener. Pronunciation of these terms can be picked up from the producer and notated phonetically.
Often overlooked, the Medical and Technical fields are often great sources of work. Medical and technical are very specific areas that require an ability to pronounce words that are difficult to pronounce with smoothness and ease. Medical and technical are categories for which doing a separate demo is justified. This is a particularly good area of business potential for women, as there is great demand for women’s voices by medical media producers and hospitals. In addition, women are often used for long medical or technical scripts, sometimes singly, or alternating with men’s voices, to give variety to a long script.