Voiceover is NOT the Same Skill Set Needed For Hosting a Podcast…and Vice Versa!

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 michelle@ladyfoxentertainment.com to let me know!

Until next time I remember to post a blog on my personal website….xoxoxoxo

MAO

 

Starting Projects You Never Finish? Don’t Go It Alone!

Don't Go It Alone

So you think you can just start a new venture tomorrow by yourself and become successful in no time?  Well, not so fast.

Here’s a realization I had this past week.  My story is that I have been successfully hosting podcast-type interviews from start to finish for over 2.5 years.  By “start-to-finish”, I mean contacting guests, doing pre-interviews, scheduling guests, carefully crafting interview questions, conducting an interview where I’m actually engaging with the guest casually (yet staying in the parameters of the interview questions I created), engineering the recording session itself, doing follow up with said guest to make sure they get paid and thanked for their time, editing the audio from the interview, recording the intro voiceover copy, and popping music bumpers in for a final mix…oh, and getting the final files to the powers that be.  I thought, “I’m good at this, and I can also do voiceover and music and audio editing, and I should be an entrepreneur and create my own podcast!  It’ll be fun and I’ll provide entertaining but educational content for millions!  Done!”

After 2 months, I told myself off.  I also thought twice about it all.  As you probably can imagine, there’s a LOT more to launching a podcast than the steps above.  I believe I was in a state of denial, thinking that if I just make great content, then I’m done!  Ya, can we say reality check?  I was faced by a scary, flaming asteroid of branding, marketing strategy, audience engagement, retention and growth…and ADMIN WORK GALORE that barreled at me at hyper speed as I frantically ran from it, action movie style (insert intense shrieking here).  I know that’s a super eye-roller of a description, but whatever, because you got the point.

Anyway, I’m sure that some of you reading this have been in the same boat and have started a passion project.  You find that it’s really hard.  You let it wither and crap out.  Then you make an excuse for it.  Well, I’m with ya’.  I’ve done this more times than I should admit with songs, bands, and day jobs.  So instead of giving up, getting in my ‘jammies, and choosing to binge on whatever is available on Netflix (which I’ve found isn’t much these days), I decided to apply some recent wisdom imparted on me by a savvy group of business people I know.  They said:

Entrepreneurial rule #1 :  Don’t Go It Alone.

Hrm.  “But I always do everything by mySELF!”, my Play-the-Martyr Self says.   Some time goes by.  I sulk.  I sleep.  I vent.  I distract myself with something else.  I go bowling.  (not really, but I could have).  I halfway convince myself that no one could ever possibly “get it” even if I do ask for help.

Then, my That’s Enough Bullsh*t Self jumps in and yells, “Not this time!  You can find the right person.  SEE THIS THROUGH.”

In a single phone call, my life coach both reminded me about my That’s Enough Bullsh*t Self AND referred me to someone who happened to be perfect.  And he helped me tremendously by solving my teetering-on-the-edge of dropping yet another baby problem.  A second call later, I hired the VA he referred to me. Of course, she ain’t cheap, but I’m now a happy girl focusing on the creative again, as this woman is officially going to prevent me from unraveling in total overwhelm and giving up completely.  And she’s a bad ass military kid, so I know she’ll hold me accountable.  And that I dig, my friends.

The message here is that I hope that all of you consider the power of teamwork, holding steadfast to your dreams and not thinking you are the only person who can do everything right.  And it’s ok to feel like you are overwhelmed or want to run away and drop the dream.  But don’t freak out.  You don’t have to go it alone.  Ask for help, actually allow the person to do the stuff you ask them to, maintain your own stamina for what you want to be focusing on, and produce something great!

Do it.  I’m rootin’ for ya.

🙂

8 Reasons Why I Love Voiceover

Do you ever ask yourself why you do certain things?  I do.

When I woke up and did a meditation focusing on gratefulness this morning, I immediately thought of voiceover and how grateful I am for the role it plays in my life.

Here are the reasons why I love voiceover:
1. It’s the kind of thing that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning.

2. The people are really great in this part of the industry.  More genuine and real.

3. It requires real acting talent, not just a naturally great voice. There are, of course, exceptions to this, but in general, it requires actual talent, which most laypeople don’t know.  So, it keeps me working to be my best, and it reminds me that I’m living the work I love.

4. It allows me to utilize my music/singing background.  I can quickly understand the flow or “melody” of copy.  Thanks to the Universe for all my years performing music!  This is not to say that any musician or singer can easily do VO, but it certainly adds some “punch” in my case.

5. I have a tendency to get bored in jobs, and with VO, that’s not the case.  I am constantly challenged.  Every audition, every session, every workshop keeps me engaged and passionate about the craft.  As a fellow VO actor said at this morning’s audition, “I LOVE MY JOB!”.  Agreed, new friend.  Agreed.

6. I’ve always dug advertising and brand strategy and have had the fortune of working with some great copywriters, creative directors and producers.  This is a big cog in that wheel, at least for commercial VO, which is really my thing.

7. A 10-minute audition could possibly lead to the most financially-rewarding project of my life. There’s nothing wrong with getting amply rewarded for your talent if you put in your best effort at every audition and keep learning every day, MFA or not!

8. And as an offshoot of that, this amazing craft will put me in a position to help my family, in big ways.  My roots play a big role in what I draw upon, so they should get a piece of the pie.  And you know what? The joy it’ll bring me to see my sister smile, my niece be done with her student loans, etc…that will be the greatest gift I will ever receive.

Yeah, voiceover.  I’m grateful for you.

I hope this inspires you to focus on what you are grateful for and to make a list of reasons why.

🙂