Anyone who has coached with me is familiar with my goal oriented approach to career development in voiceover. Having an end target is key to knowing what to do today, even if that target shifts over time. But why is this the case and how will it help you?
How goals help voice actors.
Even the most free spirited road-tripper has a rough idea of their destination before they set off. Choosing places to stay, eating, budgeting, scheduling etc... all require some basic forward planning, but this needn’t restrict spontaneity and unplanned exploration. The same is true of voiceover.
It’s been said many times that voiceover is an industry of industries, and the learning curve is steep because of this. Commercial VO has little in common with animation, promo is unlike audiobooks, a MOCAP performance barely resembles IVR both stylistically and as a career path.
Avenues of education, investment (both time and money), networking, demos, auditioning… are debilitatingly innumerable. Narrowing your focus, at least at the start of your VO journey, will help you to learn faster and achieve more, even if that’s ruling out genres that don’t work for you.
Deciding on your goals.
What attracted you to voiceover in the first place? What do you enjoy in your regular life? What qualities do people compliment you on? How much time can you initially invest in VO? These are all clues that can help you hone in on one or two initial goals.
How specific should I be?
This is entirely personal. What motivates you? Is it a somewhat vague lifestyle goal, or a very specific role in a project? Maybe it's a financial goal? Any kind of end point allows us to strategically work back and create a roadmap.
These initial goals are not permanently fixed, they will simply serve as a way for you to move out of analysis paralysis and start generating momentum. They will not insulate you from pursuing something that you later discover isn’t right for you, nor is it a guarantee of success, they are a mechanism for forward motion. If you're moving forward you're doing well!
What will happen?
Your goals are likely to change as you learn more about the voiceover industry and as the industry learns about you. New paths will appear, old ones will change or vanish, this is the nature of the somewhat fickle industry that we love.
Spend some time today thinking about your goals. Write them down and pin them on the wall, keep them somewhere visible as a constant reminder of where you want to go and how far you've already come!
Conducting ourselves professionally is the surest way to ensure the smooth running of a project. Keeping communications pleasant, brief and accurate avoids confusion and unnecessary delays.
Prior to commencement of the project each party involved should be clear on the costs, timeframe for delivery and a contingency should an unforeseen delay/issue occur.
Under-promising and over-delivering is a tried and true method that is a core principal of my business.
As talent we should do all that we can to deliver the best possible product. Doing a good job behind the mic is a given, but there is more that we can bring to the table to add additional value. Researching the correct pronunciations of names, offering alternative recordings of lines, offering small pickups without extra charge, or expediting certain projects where possible, all contribute positively to a project.
Outside of union projects (which are tightly controlled), you as the talent should remain flexible in your invoicing and collections. Every company has its own vendor payment process, and respecting that is a sure way of avoiding conflict and a strained client relationship.
There are times where follow-ups and encouragement is needed, but this is rarely the result of malicious intent, so the tone should remain professional at all times.
As an important link in the chain, we can positively affect the outcome of any project that we are involved in. We should stay creative, flexible and productive as a team member. Maintaining great client relationships is an important part of a voice actors day to day life, and is a crucial component in developing a long and consistent career.
I'm a British voiceover actor based in the US. I'm host of the VO School podcast and co-chair of VOcation Conference.