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This is a question I’m consistently asked.

It’s true of every discipline in the creative industries, that making sure we’re ready for the work IS the work. If I’m an actor going into an audition, I’ve already won. I get to act in a room someone else is paying for (thank you Philip Seymour Hoffman). That IS the job.

Going to class to practice my craft IS the job. The idea of overnight success doesn’t really exist – perhaps in a few rare cases – but truthfully, what appears to be overnight success is actually the result of countless hours, days, weeks, months, years of practice, honing our skills, so that when that golden opportunity arises, we hit the ground running. There we have it: overnight success, fifteen years in the making.

The same is true of voiceover. It’s a competitive business, so being ready is everything. What does that look like? Well mostly, for me it’s reading out loud, every day. If we’re interested documentary narration, (and what’s not to love?), get hold of some scripts and read them out loud. Record them too.

The way to master accents is immersion and repetition. Read your current great American novel out loud in your Standard American accent every day. Can you fool people around town that you’re from somewhere else? I dare you.

If you’re interested in character voices, working on a new character reel has greater value than simply ending up with a reel in your hand. In the process, you get to develop your skills. Take your time. Enjoy it.

And whatever area of voiceover you’re engaged in, there’s one principle that applies across the board. Can you see what you’re saying at the moment you’re saying it? Make the images your focus. The more we practice this, the less self-conscious we are about what we sound like, and the more natural, spontaneous and full of life our readings become.

Of course, we need to look for opportunities, or create them wherever we can; but the key to making the most of those opportunities when they arise is practice, and that never stops.

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