I’ve Been In Your Shoes
It seems like just yesterday I was just starting my own voice over career. When I was new to voiceover, I, like you, had questions about everything from technique to gear. I had so much to learn, I was not sure where to begin. Coming from an academic background, my inclination was to research, but finding the right voice over coach that was the right fit for my vast VO goals was a goal in and of itself. If you look at my resume, it reads like a “Who’s Who” of the best of VO. I’ve coached with Anne Ganguzza, Bill DeWees, Nancy Wolfson, J. Michael Collins, Eric Romanowski, Dave Walsh, and the list goes on. You might be thinking, why has this gal worked with so many coaches? Well, there are three reasons: At different points in your career, you need different things. And, coaches have varying areas of expertise. Lastly, voice over, like many other professions, is a field for career-long learning.
Now, as a long-established full-time professional talent and working coach myself, Diana Birdsall and I have teamed up and started a Clubhouse room called “Ask the VO Coaches”
where we can have a weekly dialogue where people who are walking on the same path can now have a trusted space to pose their questions. Last week on Clubhouse Diana and I talked about finding a VO Coach that is right for you. Here are some of the issues that we considered:
Vetting the Right Voice Over Coach
During our Clubhouse panel last week, Diana and I were excited to have Randy Thomas and Dan Friedman as guests. Both established voice talents and coaches like us. We discussed that group classes and conferences are great ways to test the waters and see if a voice over coach is the right fit for you. You should consider things like their demeanor and philosophy. See if you can get a sense of their methodology. What is their approach to studying voiceover like?
What Questions You Should Ask
- You should ask voice over coaches about their policies. For instance, do they require 24 hours notice for cancellation or are they flexible?
- Do they provide the scripts? Some coaches plan the lessons and provide scripts, others expect you to find your own scripts. I always provide scripts, but this is not standard, it really does vary and if you don’t want to go digging you should ask. Or, conversely, if you want to control the material, you should ask.
- How do they know what you are ready to go to demo? Not all coaches produce demos. I do work with an amazing demo team, and I do not send my students to demo until their reads are repeatedly bookable.
- Do they offer a free consultation? This is very common and is a great way to see if you are a good fit. Do they offer a consultation for demos? This is very helpful as well.
What Guarantees Can They Offer
None. That’s it. You can do everything right. You can have an amazing demo. No one can promise you work. Voice over is hard. It is a grind. It takes hours of commitment and sacrifice and more determination than you can measure. If you have demo producers promising you the starts you should run for the hills. There are no guarantees and anyone that suggests that there are should not be trusted. Gabby Nistico, another amazing coach who I know as an industry friend, has a video about the rule of 10. She talks about how you have to put in years of effort to reap the rewards. The secret is there is no secret.
The Right Voice Over Coach Should Make You Better
At the end of the day, you know where you are when you start. You should know how you learn. A good coach should bring
out the best in you and push you. For example, I respond well to positive reinforcement. I do not respond well to criticism, harsh feedback, sarcasm, or cruelty. I am not the kind who can rise above to prove how awesome I am. I will, instead, just fall to pieced. It is not good. So for me, I look for a specific energy from coaches. Ultimately, I was very excited to build my VO career. Now, as a coach, when I work with students, I am trying to build a relationship with them just as I do with my clients. I want them to build a strong foundation of skills that will not disappear when they are nervous in a live session or when there is noise outside their apartment that they cannot control. I want them to hear my voice in their head cheering them on and lifting them up.