If you are serious about becoming a voice talent, the topic of having a voiceover coach is an important one, and here’s why.
When most people “peek” into this business,they want to do everything themselves. They read a number of blog posts, they find a gem or two, and their confidence starts to grow. “I can do this,” they say. “Apparently, all I need is a microphone, some free voice software, maybe a pre-amp to connect my mic to my laptop, and that will suffice.”
Then, as they delve deeper into the nuts and bolts of this wonderful, yet frightful journey that is voiceover, they start to get overwhelmed with everything that they find. They need a guide.
I got lucky in my search for a voice coach. His name is Nick Kaiser, and he works for Such A Voice, a well-known company with an accredited voice coaching program. He and I have been working together since July 2014 and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. One of the great things about Nick is that we have been able to communicate via Skype. The ability to do my coaching this way was important to me because I really didn’t want to have to go to a studio for every session. You will need to do what is best for you – maybe you prefer the face-to-face interaction – but for me, Skype has worked very well.
We meet twice a week, in the evenings, for 30 minutes each. Again, this schedule works for me because it allows me to come home from my day job, decompress, say hello to my family, and then dive right in with Nick. Our sessions typically include a discussion about the weather – Nick lives in Vermont AND he has a son who is a meteorologist – and then we talk about different techniques that I have been working on, such as breathing, tone, pausing, script analysis, etc. Finally, I usually read a script that he previously provided, with additional tips and things to work on. We would often use that previous reading as a springboard to the next session’s discussion.
But where Nick really earned his money was when we recently cut my demos at a recording studio. “Awesome!” is the best word to describe that experience, for several different reasons. First, he prepared me for what to expect in the studio. Second, he encouraged me all throughout the session. And third, he praised me for a job well done. He scheduled the studio for three hours since I was doing three different demos, but because of his preparation, I finished in two hours. Saved me $85. Every little thing helps.
For those of you who may not be ready to take the leap of faith into voice lessons, or you might not be able to afford it, I understand. There are plenty of free and/or inexpensive resources out there (check out my growing page of FREE STUFF!) that will answer a lot of questions that you might have before you make that financial and professional commitment. However, the free stuff will only get you so far. At some point, if you are serious about making it in this business, do everything that you can (search your couch cushions, raid the kid’s piggybanks, have a garage sale) so that you can sign up with a reputable voice coach.
“But where do I find a good, reputable coach?” you ask. The power of the Internet is at your fingers. Do a search on these keywords, “free voice over evaluation” and check out the options that you find. You should be able to research a few companies and to schedule a free evaluation. After your evaluation, the company will contact you and try to sell you on their programs.
My advice? Ask a lot of questions. Treat the conversation with the sales rep like you would an interview – you are the one paying them, after all – so don’t feel bad if you don’t connect with them or something just doesn’t feel right. Just move on to the next one on your list.
Bottom line. You need to have a voice coach if you are just starting out, and any investment towards one is money well-spent. All of the expert advice that I have found thus far in my voiceover journey has pointed me towards this one aspect, and I wholeheartedly approve of this critical step.
Other web pages that I have found on this subject include this one written by Harlan Hogan, who includes a list of voice coaches by geography, as well as this one written by Rudy Gaskins and Joan Baker. I also found this website hosted by Creative Voice Development Group LLC. By no means is this an exhaustive list, so I encourage you to share your info about voice coaches!