VO Lessons Learned From A Dog… Yes, That’s Right

Taking Daisy to New Skete

Daisy at New Skete Training CenterI have been blessed to have three precious dogs in my life, and each of them has brought me immeasurable joy. I had no idea, however, that when we got our Labrador Retriever Daisy, in addition to being super sweet and super smart, she would also be super challenging to walk without the right training. A neighbor with two Great Dane pups introduced me to the dog training books by the Monks of New Skete, who have been training dogs since the 1970s. We made the choice to send Daisy for a board and stay training program, and I learned from the brothers that there were a few keys essential to Daisy’s success. We needed to be consistent with her obedience every day and maintain her routine. She would need structured daily exercise. We needed to plan everything- even her walks, to set her up for success. As a small business owner, I realized that in voice over all the lessons that would lead to success for Daisy also hold true to maintaining a successful professional voiceover career.

Doing What’s Right, Not What’s Easy

Just like in Daisy’s dog training, doing what’s right in my voice over business instead of what is easy is essential to success. One of the most challenging aspects of running a VO business is determining rates with clients. Even though it can be awkward and is not fun to talk about money, it is really important to always maintain industry standard rates and hold your ground.

Another area that demands a good deal of time and attention, and I have put countless hours into, is audio quality. Again, like dog training, it is far from easy to sound pristine. I have worked with top sound engineers to perfect my setup and effects stacks. Even for my travel rig, I have made sure it sounds just like the audio in my booth. None of this is easy. None of these are quick fixes. Just like the dog training, this takes a lot of dedication, time, and work. In the end, though, I could never send out anything less.

Maintaining a Consistent Routine

Daisy and Violet sitting nicelyNow back from New Skete, every day Daisy has to run through her exercises, from leave it and heal to place. Similarly, working on my craft is essential every day. From warm up exercises to practicing cold reading, this is part of my daily routine. I recently reflected on this in my blog about the class that I am taking with Kim Handysides, but in order to stay strong in the reads that I submit both as auditions and as booked work, this daily work is essential to my success.

I have health rituals that are also essential to my voice over success. I steam with a personal steamer. I am also on a gluten free and dairy free diet. This consistency matters in how I sound.

Daily Exercises

Just as Daisy needs her purposeful walk, I need a certain amount of daily exercise to stay in shape for Daisy playing with toy in the grassvoice over, I walk four to five miles a day. I do pilates three times a week. All of that is in addition to my vocal warm ups. When your body is your instrument, you have to maintain your instrument every single day.

It’s All Building A Strong Relationship

The intent behind Daisy’s obedience training is to strengthen the relationship between the dog and her humans. Well, the most important thing that we do in voice over is build lasting relationships with our clients. Every single choice we make feeds and fuels that relationship. If we make the wrong choice, it can damage that relationship. If we stay out too late with friends and are at a loud restaurant with a live session the next morning, how will our client feel when we show up to the booking sounding like a much raspier version of ourselves? The answer is you do not want to find out. In voice over, we make choices in anticipation of the outcome they will have on our body and our voice. Being able to show up and perform Laura Schreiber with Daisy and Violet on Couchis the biggest part of the deal, and being honest and up front about it when we can’t is also essential. Being able to foster a strong relationship is really important to building a client base.

In the same way that communicating well with Daisy strengthens our family bonds, doing all of the above plus communicating well with clients strengthens our connections with them. As they can rely on our work being consistently good and being there when they need it, they will be able to trust us for their clients, and in the end that trust is what matters most. As a professional talent, a new booking is great, but when that new booking comes back, it’s almost as good as when Daisy comes galloping towards me.