5 Things Voice Actors Should Never, Ever Do

Career management best practices for voice acting are a lot like career management best practices for acting. In theory we should all know them, but in reality it doesn’t hurt to have an occasional refresher. Before you step up to the mic, be sure to review this targeted list of things a new voice talent must consider when getting into the business.

1. Don’t go in blind. What do you do when you first travel to a city or place that’s new to you? You likely do a search or pull up a map to gain your bearings. The same needs to take place when you enter into the world of voiceover. You need to know the lay of the land. Figure out who the key players are in the business (think voice-over coaches, online marketplaces, producers, etc.) and understand how they work together. Know where you as a voice actor and where you fit into the equation. That said, voiceover is voice acting and as such involves many of the same people you would come across in acting circles, albeit from a different angle. Knowing the ecosystem and appreciating when and how other parties work together is vital.

2. Don’t touch the microphone. If you are going to a professional recording studio, a cardinal sin that you must avoid is touching the microphone. Do not do this at any cost. While microphones are expensive, they are also property of the studio and entrusted to the care of the studio staff. You’re in someone else’s home, so to speak, and need to respect the house rules. Should the microphone or mic stand need to be adjusted for any reason, ask the recording engineer to assist you. He or she will be more than happy to step into the booth and see that you’re in proper alignment with the equipment.

3. Don’t make a demo before you’re ready. A lot of people record a sample of their voice before they are truly ready. What I mean by ready is that the voice actor knows his or her instrument, has studied with a voiceover coach for some time, and has a good understanding of how to record, edit, and produce broadcast-ready audio. To be successful in voiceover, you need to have artistic, business, and technical skills. Most talent are wonderful voice actors but find themselves lacking in the areas of self-direction and audio production. You can’t bring your coach with you everywhere you go nor do you have the luxury of an audio engineer at your beck and call. That said, your confidence as an artist and producer needs to be on par with what your demo sounds like—especially if it was professionally produced in a studio. Train, build your skills, and get in tune with your voice. Honing these skills will ensure that you aren’t at a loss when recording alone. Being able to replicate what’s on your demo, whether artistic or technical, is of absolute importance.

4. Don’t approach an agent before you have booked work. Every now and then you hear about someone who was discovered, and before you know it, became an overnight sensation complete with agency representation. Many talent believe signing with an agency to be the silver bullet for their career. While some voice artists do experience a great deal of success working with agents, remember that most of them toiled for years without representation. Agents are more likely to take on talent who have proven that they can get booked on their own merit. Getting hired by other companies shows that you and your voice are in demand. If an agent has room on his or her roster for a talent with your voice type and skills, a solid résumé will arm you with what you need to make a good first impression and gain a much better reception.

5. Don’t overextend yourself. Are you one of those people who has difficulty saying no? Prepare to be a bit more selective! Projects will come your way that overstretch your creative and technical capabilities. The challenges might be related to skill, access to the right equipment, and even timing in terms of your schedule. When such an opportunity arises, the temptation to take on more than you reasonably should will be a strong one. This is especially true for newer voice actors. Whether it’s overextending yourself professionally or as an artist, recognize that you are in a position to turn down work or skip an audition altogether. Know what you can do and put your focus there.

By heeding the five tips above, you put yourself at a great advantage as a newcomer to voice acting. By knowing where you fit in, respecting others in your space, and adopting realistic expectations, you will go far.

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Stephanie Ciccarelli
Stephanie Ciccarelli is the co-founder and chief brand officer of Voices.com, the industry-leading website that connects businesses with professional voice talent. 
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