Gabrielle Nistco at Voicehunter/VOCareer has been running voiceover Meetups here in Charlotte for a couple of years. They give students of hers and people interested in the field a chance to hear from a veteran voice artist about technique and basics, discuss the business with like-minded individuals, and frankly figure out if this is the direction they want to go. I have mentioned her previously in the “How Do I Get Into This” post.
Last week, she hosted a meetup entitled “Meet the Clients!” This well attended Meetup features some great information as given my a dynamite panel, including my friends Dan Friedman (of ProComm Voices and Sound4VO fame and author of “Sound Advice: Voiceover from an Audio Engineer’s Perspective”) and Beverly Penninger of Naka Productions here in Charlotte, as well as network television producer Linda Midgett and Voicehunter casting director Eric Simendinger. They shared a great deal about their experience with voice artists in the commercial and narration areas, and told some wonderful stories about their careers.
The question that Gabby asked them that elicited the most interesting response for me was about pet peeves. In essence, the panel was asked if there was a particular thing that caused them to cringe when working with a talent on a project. The item that elicited the most response?
A bad attitude.
The voice artist that is good, and knows it, and wants YOU to know it. The aspiring talent who expects that whatever their previous experience was, it clearly makes them PERFECT for voiceover with no further training or work. The voice actor that virtually refuses to be directed, for their interpretation is clearly superior. The guy that comes into the session prepared to direct not only his own delivery, but the delivery of anyone else in the session as well.
Confidence is a wonderful thing. You cannot be successful in this business, or any other, without it. In a business in which you “fail,” or do not win the audition much more often than not, you have to find ways to keep your confidence high and retain a belief in your abilities, your skills and potential. But confidence can also be a killer. When you are so sure that you cannot be replaced, that this job is yours no matter what, you have let confidence take too deep a hold of you.
In the past, I have noted that this is a selection business. Because being selected for a job has a very rewarding feeling that comes with it, there is a deep-seated belief of one’s own superiority, and irreplacability (yes, I just made up a word), that can set in once you win a few top-level jobs. But in order to keep getting that work, you must keep in mind these things:
- You CAN be replaced. It has happened before, it will happen again (Remember “The Dell Guy” from some years ago? Or Gilbert Gottfried, the AFLAC Duck, earlier this year?). You may walk out of the session, and someone on the other end thinks your voice just wasn’t right and you will lose out on that gig.
- You are doing one of the most fun jobs in the world. But you aren’t entitled to it.
- You are working with professionals. Treat them like professionals, and you will be treated the same most of the time. Treat them with less respect, and you will be remembered – but not in the way you would like.
- You can always learn. Always. The finest opera singers in the world receive coaching. Why wouldn’t you?
- Your job is not just talking. It’s also listening. Listening with purpose and with an open mind. Your clients generally have an idea what they want to hear, even if they can’t articulate it. You must listen and interpret their desires into the delivery they want.
Performance requires confidence. I wholeheartedly believe that. But I also believe that success requires humility in the long run. And that humility comes from remembering the joy of doing what you love to do, that not everyone gets to do that. And remembering that the gift you have is not just your voice, but the opportunity you have to use it.