Many factors contribute to a successful voice over career, and one of those can be good voice over coaching. Voice over coaching has become more popular than ever, something I looked at in the first part of my voice-over coaching blog. This second part dives deeper into the VO coaching scene, with input from three highly respected and successful VO coaches:
- Kim Handysides is a voice over coach with 25+ years’ experience as an award-winning voice actor, with a stellar reputation built on her talent, creativity and relentless work ethic. More at www.kimhandysidesvoiceover.com/coaching.
- Julie Williams is a voice over life coach with 40 years’ experience as a voice over pro. Her coaching guides clients through every aspect of their voice over lives. More at www.juliewilliamscoaches.com
- Marc Cashman is Voice President of Cashman Commercials, with over 40 years of experience as an award-winning voiceover talent, casting director, copywriter and producer, where he offers V-O coaching in commercial copy, narration, promos, trailers, e-learning, animation, videogames and audiobooks. More at www.cashmancommercials.com.
As you’ll note, all three are established voice over actors who offer professional voice over as well as coaching services. I sent several questions their way, and they responded with the valuable insights below.
What Can Voice Over Coaching Do for Clients?
V-O coaching gives voice actors tools they can use and apply for the rest of their career. It helps bolster their strengths and diminishes or eliminates their weaknesses. It gives them confidence in their abilities and helps put those abilities in perspective. It exposes them to many different genres of V-O, and challenges them in areas they weren’t sure they could tackle.
It breaks them of bad habits and fosters good ones. It lets them make mistakes while training so they don’t make those mistakes in the workaday world. It holds their feet to the fire and gives them constructive feedback. And by listening to a recording of their coaching sessions, it gives them an objective view of their progress.
It can make the difference between whether they can actually get work or remain a “wanna be.” As a Whole Voiceover Life Coach, I guide clients through all aspects of their VO careers, both by myself and by referring them to others with different areas of expertise.
What Makes a Client a Good Fit vs. Bad Fit?
I know if a V-O coaching client is a good fit for what I offer when I hear if they’re able to listen, to take constructive feedback, to apply that feedback quickly, to understand that I’m here to support them with best practices – and if they have a great attitude and sense of humor.
The students who are a bad fit are the ones who think they already know it all.
Can You Tell if a Client is Primed for Voice Over Success?
Yes, especially after the first session. Sometimes even before. A successful client has to be able to identify any emotional roadblocks and be willing to remove them. Emotional roadblocks can be external, like a demanding family or day-job situation, or internal, like not being able to handle rejection.
I coached one very talented client who will not succeed because their fear of failure is greater than their willingness to try. And that’s sad.
My most successful VO clients take the work very seriously. They make plans and follow through on them. They work on their craft, their marketing, their knowledge of equipment every day. They are consistent. They try. They take risks. They study ones who’ve succeeded and learn to bring their own special something to the mix.
I can only tell if a client is likely to succeed once I start working with them. Some are great naturally but haven’t developed any skills. Others just don’t learn well. There’s only so much I can do with them.
[Indications of likely success include] taking direction well, being open to listening, and having a good attitude.
I can tell if a V-O client has the skills necessary to be competitive in the industry, but I can’t tell if they can be successful, because that depends on so many variables: timing, connections, self-promotional abilities, luck and myriad others. I’ve worked with many talented voice actors who’ve dropped out of sight, and others who’ve made huge strides. There’s just no telling how successful someone will be in this anonymous side of show business.
Can You Tell if a Client Has Little Chance of Voice Over Success?
Yes. You need talent, a keen observation of the human condition and to be able to keep people’s interest when telling stories. You also need discipline, flexibility, an open mind (and heart), a strong drive, an ability to communicate well with people.
Unfortunately a lot of people are under the misconception that all you need is a “great voice.” That is such a shallow view of this industry.
[Others who may have little chance of success include] people who are too busy or disorganized to do the work, or not committed to the reinvention of oneself we need to undertake to ride the waves in the industry.
There are some instances where the client may literally be chasing an impossible dream. Someone who speaks a language other than English as their mother tongue, or has an unmarketable accent.
More often though, clients who don’t seem to have what it takes are the ones who aren’t willing to do the work. And the work is extensive, especially if you’ve come from something other than an acting or a broadcast background.
What do You Tell Clients Who Don’t Seem to Have What It Takes?
I tell them if they really want to pursue V-O, they need to be competitive, which takes skill, dedication and relentless focus. I also remind them that V-O is an anonymous side of show business, and that not everybody who wants to be successful can be.
But I also remind them of the mantra of the used car business: There’s an ass for every seat. Somebody is gonna get the part, and it could just as well be you. I’ve worked with students who I thought were marginally talented who’ve gone on to make a career of V-O because they were diligent and tenacious.
What’s One Piece of Advice You Wish Every Client Knew?
It takes work. A lot of work. You have to be disciplined and set goals and strive to reach them, then set more. This is not an easy profession. But if you’re willing to work hard and diligently, you may succeed and be able to make money doing something you love. And that’s a dream come true.
Realize that you’re starting a business.
Don’t do a V-O demo until you’re ready. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Understand that anything you want to do well takes time and practice. Understand the 10,000 hour rule of competency. Double that to achieve proficiency. Triple that to achieve greatness.
Summing It Up
As you can tell from the responses of these three VO pros, dedicated voice over coaches are equipped to help you learn a lot about the business – and yourself. I’ve worked with several good voice over coaches over the course of my own career, and it was particularly helpful during my early years in voice over. While much has changed since I got my start in the early 1990s, great voice over coaches will always be an asset to the business.
Thank you to Kim Handysides, Julie Williams and Marc Cashman for taking the time to respond to our questions and share their knowledge with the world.