Friday, 22 March 2013

Ongoing Development for Professional Voiceovers

This blog relates to the relevance of continual development for those working as established Voiceover Artists, as well as for those just setting out at the start of their careers. There are many areas to pay attention to, where learning and, crucially, listening and understanding of  developments in the global marketplace, can make all the difference. Self-development can include microphone and editing techniques, maintaining an awareness of developments within technology, both hardware and software. It can be about improving one's own microphone technique, or  networking skills for new and existing clients. It can be about making improvements to your demo's, to your many online profiles, to keeping abreast of your ratecard. It can be about researching new areas of the Voice market. In short, there is always room for improvement, no matter how long you have been in the game.

In the US, there is a culture which makes continual coaching the norm, even among the busiest VO's. In the UK, we are less inclined to use a coach, and if we do take a course, it is more likely to be a one-off, or to update a demo.  There are many benefits though to establishing a rapport with a voiceover coach on a longer term basis. They can help you focus on how you sound, and how to achieve the best results for your clients. They can help keep you grounded when you have the best of luck with some major clients, and keep you confident of your abilities when work is quieter (it happens to us all!). In short, they can be an important point of contact for your performance development, able to spot when you are off mic, able to hear when you misjudged a turn of phrase, or when you could give a different energy to a line. Skype has enabled even the most remote coach to work with you in a personal way, or better still, you could find someone located near to you and meet with them in person.

Keeping abreast of technological advancements is important too. There are so many pre-amps, mixers, microphones and software packages out there. Ensure you know what is what, or at the very least, the best places to lay your hands on this information. I recently attended BV Expo in London, and found Rode and Shure standholders extremely helpful in demonstrating and explaining their products, and eager to share their recommendations for different budgets and recording scenarios. Some companies are good enough to let you have a seven day try-before-you-buy policy on recording equipment, and it is very worthwhile taking them up on this offer. Perhaps you aren't quite ready to invest in the top of the range Mics, but wouldn't it be beneficial to know which set-ups you aspire to? And maybe to have a full understanding of the best options for recording when away from your home studio? Do your research, so that you know which way to go when the time comes.

There's an abundance of books out there which advocate good business practice for maintaining and excelling in client relationships. Even if you are confident of your abilities to charm and be agreeable with clients, it can do no harm to see if there is room for improvement. One of my favourites, although a little out of date as it was published before the rise of the internet, is 'You are the Message' by Roger Ailes. Another is 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen Covey. Get reading, or better still, support the Audiobook industry (and your fellow Narrators) by listening to a version on CD or mp3. It makes self-improvement so mush more accessible when you can do it from the comfort of your car, or while you go for a jog.

Self-development is important no matter where you are in your career. Those at the top need to  know how best to ensure they stay there. Those starting out need to fully understand the business they are entering. It is never as simple as standing in front of a mic in a quiet room. There is always room to learn, and grow, and develop, as a business person and as a professional performer. Above are a few of my ideas. What can you do to improve your lot?

I often get a huge response from my blog's from people interested in the books and materials I recommend. I have put many of them (and more!) together in a recommendation list with Amazon, which you can view below should you wish to buy directly from them. Please click below:, and get developing and improving your self!