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Put me in coach!

Continuing with the 10 things you need to know when starting out in voiceover.

Number 7: Invest in performance coaching. Now, I know that depends on whether you are just doing voiceover as a hobby or if you are serious about your career. If it’s a hobby, then coaching will be fun and help you, but the cost may be prohibitive. If this is your chosen career, there is just no excuse to not get further coaching. The expense is tax deductible and the return on investment can be significant. And…I am not a coach!

Staying relevant and keeping your skills sharp is crucial. It is hard enough that we don’t get any live direction these days for auditions. We must use our own self-directing skills to figure out the best read for a script. But these decisions should be based on skills that a trusted, experience coach has taught. Yes, you can make it up as you go along, but as your audition will be going up against other professionals, is it any wonder that those with more skill and experience book more? In truth, it isn’t really rocket science to work that one out.

Take a professional footballer for example. Let’s imagine you could clone them at age 5. One followed the path of going through coaching, camps, and youth training. The other just played football for fun. I am sure that we would all agree that the athlete who came through the youth system and was trained with the important skills would be a better all-round professional than the other. Yes, the other would probably still have good skills but the constant training, learning and fitness would give the coached athlete a significantly better advantage.

Choose wisely though. And this is the tough part. There are some very unscrupulous people out there who will take your hard-earned money for coaching that may be sub-par or even worse, may be teaching you the wrong things to do. Let’s face it, even in the public school system, there are good teachers and bad teachers. It’s the same with paid coaching. The key is finding someone that you “click” with. Someone that pushes you out of your comfort zone but does it a way that makes sense and is enjoyable. It’s a personal decision and some coaches work for some and not for others. Pay attention to groups and forums and ask colleagues who they worked with. Don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions and seek candid answers.

It makes a difference. I have no doubt in my mind that my bookings went up drastically because I started working with well-known, high-profile coaches. Let’s face it - Tiger Wood’s still uses a coach for his golf game. Does he really need it? Some may argue not. But Tiger knows that if he is to stay on top of his game and be competitive (barring injury!), he must constantly hone his game. That’s what people at the top do. And it’s a big reason why they are at the top.

And coaching is fun. It’s amazing that after 7 years, every time I have a coaching session, I still learn something new. And always will. You will never know everything. My last coaching session taught me some amazing tricks that I had never thought of before. Things that were just so simple to put in action. That could pull out a read that was on trend, natural and different from what I was doing before. You then get to test these tricks out and play to see if it makes a difference to your bookings. And just remember, if a coaching session got you to a read that booked a mid-4 figure TV spot, I think we can all agree that it was worth the money!

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