Can't see the forest for the trees?


Are you too close to your work that you might have lost some perspective on how you approach things? This is a question that you should ask yourself on a regular basis. You see, we don’t mean to lose sight of what we are doing and why we are doing them, but it happens to the best of us. We are so immersed in working out how to become more proficient and creative at what we do that we forget one VERY important thing…..What did the CLIENT actually want?

You can apply this to so many industries:

Advertising agencies. Everyone wants the campaign they created to turn heads, to stand out and be talked about, to win awards. But should that really be your focus? Of course not. You should trust in your style, your creativity and be able to listen to the clients brief and understand their wants and needs. I like to use Tim Burton as an example of how this can go wrong. You can always tell a movie that has been created by Tim Burton (not just because Johnny Depp is in it!). They just have a certain style. But that style isn’t suited to everything. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a prime example of this. Most of the critics agree that it fell flat. But Edward Scissorhands suited his style perfectly!

E-Learning. Sometimes the focus can be on the latest trend and buzzword. Augmented reality, gamification, social learning, etc. They do have a place in learning design, but you shouldn’t be designing a course around these learning types just for the sake of it. Listen to the client’s needs carefully. Ask who the target audience is. There is no point in designing a virtual reality learning experience for a group of people who aren’t comfortable wearing the required equipment or who don’t understand the technology. Just imagine how Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau’s grumpy old men’s characters would react to a virtual reality headset! Step back and try and see the process from the learner’s perspective.

Voice Over. Real and conversational are the buzzwords at the moment. But don’t get sucked into thinking that this is what the client is actually looking for. Just because the spec on the script says “guy next door” doesn’t mean you have to act like your annoying neighbor! Take the time to analyze the script. You should be able to tell the style they are looking for from the words and how they are written. You should find that your gut reaction to the script is usually the correct one. Read it through in your head. Take your time to understand it and then start recording. When starting out, we pay too much attention to the specs of the script. If I didn’t get the job, I would hear the finished piece voiced by someone else and it turned out WAY different from the spec (and sounded great!). I then went back and looked at the script and completely understood why it sounded the way it did after just reading the words and forgetting the spec.

My point is – don’t get caught up in the process. Ask yourself “why are we doing this?” all the time. The answer shouldn’t be “because it looks cool”, “everyone else is doing it”, “I’m trying to be edgy!”. The answer should be because it will enhance the client brief and make them excited about the final product. If you keep this in mind it will be hard to go wrong. Now, I’m off to watch Edward Scissorhands again. It’s ages since I’ve watched it and it’s such a great movie!

Craig Williams is a British Voice Over Actor based in Houston, Texas.