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Basic Instinct

Learning and training is really important. Not just in voiceover, but in every profession that requires a skill to be learned and then applied creatively. I like to use football (soccer) as a great example of this. All the best players practice, practice and practice. They are constantly trying to improve their game. There is one important thing to remember though. Once game day comes, they don’t think about what they practiced or try to force things when in the game. They naturally allow these new skills to flourish without thinking about them. They have practiced so much that they are ingrained into their brain and appear without will. It is a beautiful thing.

And there is something to be learned in that. If you are constantly updating your voiceover skills through coaching and other forms of learning, I urge you to stop trying to force your learned skills when submitting for auditions or jobs. Yes, you must practice them and burn them into your psyche, but I truly believe trying to force choices into your read gets in the way of something amazing.

Believe or not, you have a wise inner voice. We were born with it. Yet, over time we are taught not to trust this voice and to search out data and validation before making decisions. We are told that you can’t just trust your gut - what if it’s wrong? What if it’s indigestion? I have been guilty of this. In fact I have written blog posts about how data is king and essential to the choices you make in life.

Well, make your bloody mind up! Which is it? Data or inner voice? In truth, it’s a bit of both, but I am starting to learn that you should trust your gut way more than most of us do. I remember when I first started training with Nancy Wolfson, I was learning so many new things. At first, I struggled to insert these new ideas into my reads. I was too busy thinking about what I should be doing rather than just doing it. Over time it get’s easier and eventually, through practice and repetition, it becomes second nature. That’s where the magic happens. The data is now processed, and you can start to trust your gut and give a read that comes from a natural honest place.

Also, be careful about over-training. Your point of view is valuable. It’s what makes you different from everyone else. Diluting this through over training is bad in my opinion. Adjusting your reads to accommodate only what you have been taught rather than intertwining it with your natural instinct is counter-intuitive and removes you from the read. That’s the last thing you want to do. If you want to learn more about how being natural when acting is important, check out the Meisner technique. I just finished listening to Sanford Meisner on Acting and it was an excellent read. Highly recommended.

So, here’s my advice. Be like the pro sport star. Learn your craft. Practice it over and over again. Your coach will tell you when you are getting it. Eventually, something will click. Your learning will become part of your natural process. You won’t even have to think about it anymore. Then you can step up to the microphone and know that you are a true pro. You have the skills and the gut instinct. Together, they are formidable. And as they say in cricket, then you can knock it out of the park. Or was it croquet……..

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