Yeah, we know – these days a voice talent wear sooooo many hats, the first of which is the hat of a small business owner. The wonderful Dave Courvoiser, who is a way more prolific blogger than haphazard l’il ole me, has a fabulous CourVO post that explains this beautifully: A New Hat.
We all have days where the last hat we get to wear is the one that sold us on this profession in the first place: the task of bringing the words on the page to life for the benefit of the listener. I am fortunate enough (and, yes, have worked hard enough) to say that I get to do this just about every day now – sometimes for 12 hours, sometimes for 15 minutes – and each time a client is happy with the result, it reminds me of why I love this job as voice talent:
I love the challenge of lifting the written word off the page and turning it into a conversation with the listener. I love this!!! And if you don’t – well, there where’s the payoff for the work you do when you are wearing those other hats?
And that’s why we chose to do this work, most of us. Believe me, it wasn’t because it was an easy path to the first gig, or for the guarantee of quick big bucks that some think awaits them like a pot of gold at the end of some rainbow (wherever that is…)
The fact is, the payoff comes first (before the paycheck) in the process of
honoring the author’s words – and completing the communication job in a different way. For what a voice talent brings to the table – whether it’s an audiobook, an explainer video, a commercial, a message-on-hold, or a cartoon/video game character – is the audio communication with the listener.
I once heard a voice talent say, right before taking a script in the booth to record, “I can’t wait to see what I do with this!!”. And therein lies the fun. Some scripts are an obvious road to fun – others, no so much. But if we learn to find the fun – that’s the gold, right there.
As famed audiobook narrator George Guidall says, we get to provide the “frame” for the painting that is the author’s words – whether that author is a copywriter, an e-learning author, small business owner, or a classic novelist. We get to help communicate the message – and that is a whole lot of fun. That is the basic core of why we do what we do – and most of the time, get paid well for it. For not everyone can do it – or gets the privilege of doing it.
Sure, there are other perks – working in clothes that practically pass for pajamas, having diverse days, and being in the company of other Voice Actors (truly the bestest pals!) – but, to do this, you still have to get back to the basics:
- Love the words
- Love the listener
- Love bridging one to the other in your own unique way.
Okay, this seems easier when getting to play a sexy sea siren in a video game than, perhaps, when describing the neurological path of a medication for fibromyalgia. But not really – not if we remember how important each message is to the recipient who needs the information, wants to know the story, has a problem to solve.
So next time you get a script – whether for a paycheck, or the opportunity to audition – take a moment and remind yourself how much fun it is to see what you’ll do with those words! Sometimes we plan our approach, sometime we just let go and trust our well-trained subconscious to play with it. Usually it’s a combination of both.
But remember to have fun! That’s why we wanted to do this in the first place. And yes – this applies to all the other hats we get to wear too – marketing, accounting, website updates, social media, production – because that is what our business has become. The stuff that seems impossible to enjoy might need either an attitude change – or, in the end, to be delegated.
But let’s remember what made us want to do this: the fun and challenge of bringing words to life (okay, also a shameless plug, as it’s my business tagline)
Have fun! We are so lucky to get to do this for a living.