are you ready?

Are You Ready_VOSome years ago, the singer and Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth was in concert at the Hollywood Bowl. As part of her concert, she evidently pulls up a random audience member to sing one of Chenoweth’s biggest hits, “For Good” from the show Wicked.

On this night, she randomly chose a woman named Sarah Horn. Sarah identified herself as a voice teacher.

Unrehearsed, the orchestra began playing and this happened.

The video was an Internet sensation with millions and millions of views. It was a magnificent, inspiring performance and Chenoweth’s reactions were equally as wonderful.

Some years after that video, Sarah Horn was asked to give a TEDx talk in Riverside, California. Her presentation was entitled “Be Ready: Lessons from the Hollywood Bowl”.

Horn’s message was clear: random as her selection was, she had rehearsed that song before the show…. from a young age, in her bedroom singing to the cast album, literally hundreds of times.

She had rehearsed as a voice teacher, learning about music and the human voice. Because of her deep passion for singing, Horn was constantly preparing, never not rehearsing and always performance ready.

It was, in short, her life’s preparation for that thing that she was so passionate about (her singing) that allowed her to get up in front of that audience at the Hollywood Bowl with a performance that hit it out of the park. She didn’t know when she would get the call, but she was ready when she did.

As a voiceover talent, are you THAT ready?

Have you been working scripts since you were old enough to know what a script was? Have you always consistently experimented with new tones in your voice. If some producer asks “give me a series of 3” can you say “I can give you a series of 33!” and mean it?

Do you even know what “give me a series of 3” means?

It’s those examples and more that most professional voice talents can say yes to…because they ARE ready. Performance ready for almost anything a producer can ask them to do.

In an old biography for myself, I wrote rather unpoetically:

“As a high school student, Peter K. O’Connell garnered strange looks from his parents as they passed by his room when he would practice his announcing skills by reading magazine advertisement copy out loud. While they might have expected to hear a record from Bruce Springsteen, Peter’s parents got Ed McMahon instead.”

That sounds funny but it is a 100% true story. The quizzically look my Mother gave me through my bedroom door one time as I was reading commercial copy from a print magazine was very funny. She didn’t understand why I was ready out loud from a magazine. Was this what my puberty was going to be like, busting out into an open reading of magazine print ads? What will the neighbors say?!!!

But I wanted to be ready.

I’ve worked on voiceover and announcing since high school. At that time, I became brave enough to not be self-conscious about performing (and I was – and still can be – very self-conscious). I worked all the time on my reading, my pronunciation, my sound, my characters, all of it.

I still do.

This is not to brag but merely to serve as an example to those who want to be in voiceover that THIS kind of dedication (almost obsessiveness) IS what it takes to be a professional voice talent.  And to be ready.

To become so practiced, to able to do something so well that, when called upon in the most unprepared of circumstances, your mind, body and spirit instinctively over take any immediate nerves or challenges to allow you to easily do that thing you’ve worked your whole life to perfect. In this case, voiceover.

Voiceover is not about having a nice voice.

It IS an art. It DOES require consistent practice. You MUST be focused. Not because you HAVE to but rather because you WANT to!

That want, that desire, that very NEED to be a voice talent is what will fuel your engines to work so hard and to constantly improve as a voice talent.

Just so, one day, you too will be ready.

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