I often have people approach me saying, “People always tell me I have a great voice! How can I break into VO?” If you are told often you have a good voice, that’s awesome. You are blessed with great genes in that regard! However, I hate to break it to you, but having a great speaking voice doesn’t mean you’ll be a good voiceover talent, host/presenter or anything of the sort. It’s a skill set that has to be studied, practiced and refined constantly. Basically, it’s learning how to act, and if you’ve ever taken an acting class, then you know that it’s not an easy craft. You must be able to interpret written material, connect to it authentically, and perform it in a way that tells a believable story. You may not see it like this at first when it comes to those off-camera voices you hear on commercials, e.g., since commercial VO copy tends to be short and seems like it’s “announced”. It’s really not. You’d be surprised what goes into breaking down copy and learning how to deliver it well. It requires training, ongoing coaching and practice! If you are interested in dedicating yourself to learning a real craft that could take you years to develop well, then enroll in a class to get started. FYI, it’s a long-term and highly competitive industry. You probably won’t be getting paid for doing commercials on tv and radio in the next month, 6 months or possibly even years. I’ve been studying VO since 2004 and every audition I do puts me up against like 300-400 other talents. That’s the reality of the industry, so you gotta love it if you’re going to do it.
Now, another thing I would like to clear up is general ignorance surrounding interviewing people and hosting a podcast. Hosting and/or interviewing is not synonymous with voiceover work. Hosting a show and interviewing people requires a different set of skills that include: knowing how to ask questions, listening (!!!!), facilitating a natural conversation, reacting to and/or supporting a guest’s statements, and having good instincts on when to wrap it up or let someone continue to share their thoughts. Many VO people I know would not be able to host a show well, or come off natural doing it. Not every VO person is a good conversationalist. Conversely, many talk show hosts I know would not be great at VO without training. And so I have hit the point of this blog post, which is that VO and hosting/interviewing are two separate skill sets.
Side note: I’m not claiming to be a total expert or know-it-all regarding either craft. I’ll forever be a student of both. And while I admit that I am lucky to have the gift of natural and lively gab (likely from my hearing my mother on sales calls as a child), I’m also not claiming to be a proper news journalist, which is yet another skill set. I am not trying to be one. I am simply a podcast host who is a good conversationalist with the mission to connect listeners to great information from smart guests. I am curious, engaging, I listen, and I react. I do my best to make my guests comfortable to express who they are. And I also mansplain when necessary. 🙂 It’s my responsibility to drive the flow of each show. The upside is that I can use my VO skills to record my own intro bumper and pre-roll or mid-roll ads, so I get the advantage of combining skill sets, which is probably part of the reason why people tend to get confused about what’s what.
If you are interested in hearing more about the voiceover industry and how it works, let me know and I’ll host an episode about it. I have plenty of VO coaches and agents who would love to share the realities of the VO business and then leave it up to you to decide if it’s a quest you’d like to go on. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know!
Until next time I remember to post a blog on my personal website….xoxoxoxo