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Versatility vs. Memorability

Posted in For Pro's by Administrator on the June 16th, 2009

By Jim Conlan
Copyright Jim Conlan, Voice Overs 2009
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When faced with the prospect of competing with literally thousands of voice-over artists across the country, many of us think it would be best if we were all things to all people. After all, we figure, the more versatile we are, the more auditions and projects we will qualify for.

Unfortunately, that’s not always how it works. Although our auditions might sound professional, too much versatility may not result in an outstanding audition. When a voice seeker is theoretically listening to 200 auditions (although I wouldn’t bet on it), it’s not the competent read that stands out, but the memorable one.

If you have a really unique voice, or habitually use your voice in a particularly unique way, you already know the value of memorability. But if you have a good, but fairly common voice, how do you stand out?

First, listen to lots of voice-over talent. Try to discover who else “sounds like you.” Many of the online marketing sites make this easy. Go to your profile, and chances are, the website will invite the voice seeker to listen to other voices like yours… not what you want on your profile page, but there it is.

Next, try to determine the unique characteristics of these artists. Then listen to your own voice samples and try to determine how you’re different. You may need outside help to really figure this out.

Understand that your style is more than your voice. It is a combination of that, plus your innate talent, your experience and training, and your personality. These four characteristics almost automatically will make you different from anyone else on the planet. But you need to become fully aware of those characteristics to develop and get the most out of your style.

This might help: of all the types of scripts you encounter – either to audition or to practice – which seem to be the easiest and most natural to do? You might even try ranking these types. The ones near the top are the ones you should concentrate on.

Remember that even if you think you can do a pretty good job with a script, there are plenty of other people auditioning the same script who are more than “pretty good.” So for now, better pass by the “pretty good” scripts and concentrate instead on bringing all the wattage of your particular style to a script that calls for it.

If you follow these suggestions, my guess is you’ll still have a fair amount of versatility in what you offer. But it will be more focused. You may not do quite as many auditions, but you may improve your chances of being chosen.

Ultimately, you’ll know which auditions are closest to your style. The more you concentrate on those, the more you will acknowledge yourself as the unique – and competitive – voice-over talent you are.