What Makes a Good Voice Actor? 7 Skills to Cultivate

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What are some of the qualities of successful voice actors? Are these traits inherent or are they acquired? Here are the skills you should focus on to succeed in the voiceover industry.

1. Resilience

Resilience and drive are found in abundance in successful voice talent. An ability to take lessons from failures, move on from negative situations, and maintain focus amid rejection is crucial in reaching your goals. Meteoric career trajectories are extremely rare and expecting yours to be the exception is foolhardy. If you assume challenges and dry spells will be a natural part of your career plan, you are less likely to be deterred when the going gets tough.

2. Focus

Build a set of realistic goals. Without goals, you lack focus and every unfocused action you take is likely to result in wasted opportunities. If your goal is to voice promos for a national network, formulate a plan and stick to it. Make sure your decisions at every step of your journey are influenced by this goal. Remember, if you are nudged at least one inch closer to your goal every day, then you are most likely on the correct path. If you find yourself spinning your wheels, you may need to readjust and refocus.

3. Adaptability

This may sound like a contradiction to having focus, but being adaptable will let you make the most of every opportunity. Having goals and remaining focused are extremely important, but closing your mind off to unforeseen opportunities can be hugely detrimental to your career. No journey to success is ever a straight line; it’s often littered with dead ends and circuitous paths. You may even discover a hidden talent or an unexpectedly fulfilling area of the industry.

4. Work ethic

Working eight hours in your office job, going to the gym, cooking dinner for your family, and walking the dog may take up a large portion of your day, but if you aren’t willing or able to dedicate more hours each day to forwarding your voice acting career, you won’t progress—or you will so slowly that the rewards will not outweigh the sacrifices and you may never reach your potential. Maintain a work ethic that lets you build your skills, develop your brand, network and manage your business affairs.

5. A sense of play

You must have the ability to switch off the outside world when you step into the booth. Even the driest of corporate reads require a certain amount of imagination and play, giving life to words and sustaining interest in the listener. You have to be able to switch on that mental button and give your full self when needed.

6. Enthusiasm

Maybe you were enthusiastic at the start but your energy and motivation have dwindled. This is bad news. The answer to setbacks and disappointment is renewed energy. Anything else will result in a downward spiral and is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I once produced a voiceover session where the talent was noticeably unenthused about being there and it made the client (and myself) extremely angry. Neither myself nor the client would ever work with this talent again.

7. Confidence

Believing in yourself and putting others at ease is something that will make you as a talent an enticing proposition. But how do you develop confidence when you are just starting out? Practice, training, more practice, and faking it.

Faking confidence may seem deceitful, but confidence is a state of mind, and putting yourself in that state of mind can help you to think clearer and perform better even if you are not as experienced as you feel you should be.

Eventually, genuine confidence will come as a result of experience and positive feedback, but until then it is good practice to work on training your brain to ‘turn on’ confidence in moments of necessity.

So are these traits inherited or acquired? I would argue that some of these will come easier to you than others, but all of them can be acquired with effort.

Knowing where to focus your efforts is the first step in gaining the skills you need to become successful. Now it is up to you to put the work in to fulfill your potential and be the best voice talent you can be.

Check out Backstage’s voiceover audition listings!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Jamie Muffett
Jamie Muffett is a British voice actor and podcast producer based in Philadelphia. Jamie is best known for playing Thatcher in “Rainbow Six Siege” and has voiced for clients including NBC, ESPN, Warner Brothers, Microsoft, and National Geographic. He also produces Backstage’s “In The Envelope” podcast. For more information: JamieMuffettVO.com.
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