Newbie or old pro.
Voice talent or accountant.
Everybody goes through a period (or even periods) of professional doubt. If you’re dealing with voiceover doubts, maybe it will be helpful if I tell you how I solved my issue. As always, your mileage may vary.
For me, my professional doubts these past 18 months surrounded one very specific topic: my commercial voiceover demo.
I’d sailed through updates to my narration demo, my political demo, two (count ‘em, two!) television promo demos and two radio imaging demos.
But commercials are my bread and butter (narrations a close second). And I hadn’t updated my commercial demo in 8 years (I was booking off of it, so why should I change it? But I came to the realization that such thinking is just sloppy. 8 years without updating a demo is too long.
In the past 18 months, that one demo has been something that been bugging me, to various degrees, specifically because I didn’t have a direction for the demo. I didn’t know what I wanted it to sound like. I didn’t have a handle on what I needed to have on the demo to sound current. Doubt.
Sure, voice-over trends come and go…’everyman’ begets ‘announcer’ begets ‘everyman’ on regular cycles and I can do each of those successfully in my sleep. But was I missing direction, content and answers. I didn’t know what the answers were nor did I know where to find them. Doubt.
I had doubts…about my abilities. So if you’d been hit by your own professional doubt too, just know you’re not alone.
I kept the ball moving by doing those other demos and by listening to a bunch of people’s commercial demos on Voicebank. My listening tour told me I was on my own…VO demos remain as individual as the people that voice them. Some were great. Some were truly crap. And these were people I know are booking.
Now I was doubt-filled AND confused.
During this indecisive period, in addition to doing other professional tasks (like those other demos), I relied on another tactic I’ve used in my life when faced with these kinds of situations: do nothing and wait.
While that sounds like a life plan that might make Tony Robbins’ giant head explode, it has actually worked pretty well for me.
I believe that in many instances, God or the universe or time will present me with an answer, a direction or a solution. I just have to be aware, pay attention and go where I need to go. I don’t know if I can explain it better than that.
For my commercial demo, that solution began to reveal itself during some voice-over meetings: VO Atlanta and Faffcon. There I found the answers to my doubt and lack of direction regarding the production of my commercial voice demo.
I happened upon my friend Melissa Exelberth at VO Atlanta who was having dinner with Mary Lynn Wissner, of Voices Voicecasting in LA. While I knew of her, I hadn’t until that time spent much time with Mary Lynn until that dinner and hallway conversations as the event went on. Mary Lynn had a real handle on what voice styles were being booked (she’s casting voice talent all the time). When she presented again at FaffCon and spoke with her further, I felt Mary Lynn was someone I absolutely needed to train with. Confidence was replacing doubt. With this solid professional connection, I had my direction.
So I began voiceover classes with Mary Lynn and I did so with some very specific goals in mind. I needed to see if I could harness the styles, execute the performances that were booking today. As an LA Casting Director who knows all the top agents, she was going to know whether I could do it. Certainly I felt I WAS doing that but I also know how much I sometimes don’t know. What I found out was that with what she described as minor tweaks, I was off to the races — the training went very well, and she is a great communicator.
Next, I organized the scripts I believed would work well for the demo, providing lots of room for the styles I wanted to convey. Then we scheduled some times to record with Mary Lynn directing me and again, those session went exceedingly well. I reviewed some client spots I had done that I felt also work well on the demo, based on what Mary Lynn and I had worked on. I mixed new stuff with the existing stuff, with the help of the great audio engineer and voice talent Dan Friedman.
I am extremely pleased with our results.
I am doubtful no more.
Your solution is out there too. It will come to you. Be ready for it.