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71 Skills To Develop To Help
You Succeed As A Voice Actor

October 25, 2017

By Kim Handysides
Voice Actor

How many times has someone asked you, "How do you get into voice over?"

Or maybe you've found YOUR way into the profession and want to do better than you are now.

Here's a cheat sheet of skills to develop and attitudes to adopt to help you crush it as a voice over actor. Good luck!  

1. Learn how to breathe – From the diaphragm and really learn to control it.
2. Stay hydrated – Little sips all day long. Limit coffee and alcohol.  

3. Protect your voice - Don't shout or scream unless you know how.  

4. Get enough sleep – Voice work requires energy.  

5. Stay healthy – If you have a cold, you can't work.  

6. Enunciate – So you can choose not to, for effect (i.e. conversational, relaxed reads).  

7. Be confident – It comes out in your read.  

8. Commit - Believe what you say. If you don't, no one else will.  

9. Excel at cold reading – 'Cause you need to.  

10. Practice – It takes work to make it sound effortless.  

11. Relax – It helps you deliver your best sound.  

12. Learn all you can about the industry – It's your industry after all.  

13. Get training – This is a craft. You need to train to improve.  

14. Get more training - Don't stop. I've been at this 30 years and still train.  

15. Invest in a home studio – And reinvest in better equipment as soon as you can.  

16. Get a professional demo – It makes a HUGE difference.  

17. Get a VO agent – They have access to jobs you don't.  

18. Do auditions – Every day. Make a weekly target number and stick to it.  

19. Promote yourself – People can't hire you if they don't know you're there.  

20. Learn about marketing - It's show business, after all.  

21. Learn accounting – Stay on top of that, so you can keep doing what you love.  

22. Attend voice over conferences – For the learning and the camaraderie.  

23. Join an accountability/mentoring group – It pushes you to grow.  

24. Play with your voice – Learn what you can do with it.  

25. Learn accents – Pick one, perfect it and move on to another.  

26. Try impersonations – Even if they're bad, they'll help you expand your character bank. 

27. Stay fit – It helps you stay positive. And we all need that.  

28. Read standing up -  You'll feel more energy.

29. Improv and adlib when appropriate – It keeps you authentic.  

30. Understand how to adjust your smile – So you can better flavor your reads.  

31. Mark up your script – With reminders and self-coaching icons.  

32. Stay in the moment – It makes your performance snap (crackle & pop).  

33. Do tongue twisters – So you don't trip on your script.  

34. Learn how to analyze a script – Verbs, adjectives, intentions, place, all the good stuff. 

35. Become part of a voice acting community – The support is life-changing.  

36. Be patient – With yourself, the director, the client and Facebook posts.  

37. Work hard – If there's any other way to get there but through this, I don't know it.  

38. Don't give up – You will succeed. Maybe just not on your timetable.  

39. Learn how to live with rejection – Get over it. It happens a lot.  

40. Learn how to take direction – Hear what they say and incorporate it.  

41. Be organized – It keeps the Overwhelm Ogre at bay.  

42. Be good with your money –There will be rainy days.  

43. Find a niche – And make it your own.  

44. Industry-related back-up plans only – To better support your voice acting habit.  

45. Be professional – You'll be invited back.  

46. Be reliable – On time, and ready to work.  

47. Stay on top of changes in the industry – Because it changes. All the time.  

48. Avoid nose and tongue jewelry, bracelets, necklaces and noisy fabrics - 'Cause shhhhhhh.  

49. Keep your cell out of the studio – Don't interfere with the job at hand.  

50. Create an online presence – It's where the work is.  

51. Use your body (quietly) – Physicality makes your delivery more authentic.  

52. Observe others and use what they do – From people on the street to VO Masters  

53. Observe yourself and use what you do – So you can call on emotions.  

54. Upgrade your equipment, demos, craft – Constantly invest in your business.  

55. Learn proper mic technique – So your reads are consistent, clear and not distorted.  

56. Explore character – We've all got 'em. Use 'em.  

57. Build and inventory your actor's tool box – Be able to find and anchor your tools.  

58. Keep the drama in your work – Not your life.  

59. Try stand-up comedy – It helps timing and delivery.  

60. Join Toastmasters – It's great practice and promotion.  

61. Compete with yourself – You can truly get better than you.  

62. Use non-verbal sounds – They add authenticity.  

63. Yawn to open up your throat – Morgan Freeman says it helps.  

64. Watch your posture – Keep your instrument open.  

65. Know the difference between chest voice and head voice - And how to access both.  

66. Cut dairy – Old VO "wives tale" that may or may not work if a cold is coming on.

67. Don't drink coffee before you work – It dehydrates.  

68. Try green apples to avoid mouth clicks – Old VO "wives tale" that works.  

69. Understand the power of the pause – And use it wisely.  

70. Tell it, don't sell it – Storytellers, all of us.  

71. Give them what they want, then give them what you want – It's your art, after all.

This may not be complete, but it's a darn good start. If you have suggestions, I'll add to it.

I'm a female voice over artist who has been playing with microphones longer than millennials have drawn breath. I love to talk voice art, and welcome your comments!
Kim Handysides loves VO almost as much as she loves her dog, Kiwi the Dedicated Dachshund. With roots in theatre and film, decades in voice over and several stints in journalism, most days she can be found (like you) in her padded 4x6 mainlining the message between sender and receiver.



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Comments (2)
Judy Fossum
11/8/2017 at 2:34 PM
A great, succinct list, Kim. Thanks!
Elizabeth Holmes
10/25/2017 at 1:54 PM
What a helpful summary Kim -- THANK YOU!!
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