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Voice Acting Is Not About Your
Voice: It's About Your Client's Story
By Bob Souer
Voice Actor
There are lots of folks who think that voice over work is all about the voice.
Sure, there’s an element of truth in that idea. When we audition, many times the final choice the client makes is based on whose voice most closely matches what they’re looking for; but be careful how far you carry this idea.
To think that a specific kind of voice is the “perfect” voice for our work is just silly.
People with all sorts of voices are doing well ... 
Small voices. Big voices. Deep voices. High voices. Smooth voices. Squeaky voices. Voices that rasp. Voices that sparkle.
When I meet someone new, someone who isn’t involved in voice over work, he or she will often say, “you have a perfect voice for that kind of work.”
Which is really nice, but not really true.
In fact, with the kinds of things I see on many auditions these days, mine is exactly the opposite of the kind of voice they’re looking for.
It happened recenlty when I went to the first audition I’d done outside my home studio in nine years.
The director at the audition session said, “Nice voice, but you sound kind of announcer-ish. Can you be more conversational?”
I did my best, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t exactly what they were looking for, especially since I didn’t book the job.
However, as with most things, there’s good news with the bad.
Sure, lots of people aren’t looking for my voice, but some people are. Enough people are.
And really, I couldn’t do all the voice over work in the entire world. I don’t know all the languages. And even if I did, I’d never get any sleep.
I love working with every one of my clients. I love telling their stories.
Some are short. Some are long. Some pay lots of money. Some pay less.
But every one is fulfilling and interesting, and I can hardly believe I get to do this work for people. It’s so much better than working for a living!
As a voice talent, know that even though you’re not right for every job, you will be right for some of them. Enough of them.
If you need more training to be right for enough to make a living, then get more training.
If you just need to practice more to get to that level, then practice more.
Keep pushing forward, one little bit at a time, every day. You’ll get there.
And remember, it’s not about your voice, it’s about the story your client needs you to tell.
Keep your focus on the story, on what your client needs. The rest will take care of itself.
Bob Souer has been a voice actor for over 25 years, helping an array of faithful clients tell their “stories” through commercials, narrations, podcasts, e-learning, promos, imaging - you name it. He also posts a highly informative daily blog about voice acting, The VoiceOver Boblog.
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Comments (6)
Susan Manhire
9/14/2010 at 5:10 PM
Bob, I really agree with your thoughts. My work really increased when I made the transition to have less of me and more of the client. So, I found no matter how outstanding your voice qualities; it's a combo of delivery, timing, and voice that creates success.
9/14/2010 at 2:08 PM
your perspective is 1000% right. Not only is the buyer (advertiser) listening for credibility .... sometimes called conversational or "organic," but the copywriter's words have to resonate. Almost everybody can read words aloud, but most cannot make the words flow naturally.
BP Smyth, Narrator
9/14/2010 at 9:57 AM
Excellent advice. Many, in the beginning, think it's all about the voice. I remember people telling me I had the voice of "radio" and should pursue a career in V/O. So I did, and quickly learned that even though I had a great voice, there was a lot more to V/O than just the voice. A rude awakening I can assure you. I also learned that this business is extremely "fickle." And, if you ain't the the flavor of the day (or minute) you ain't gittin the gig, no matter how good you think you did.

Bettye Zoller
9/14/2010 at 1:57 AM
As most of us "old timers" and coaches know, all the time we hear, "Is my voice right for voice overs?" We also hear, "How do I know I can do well in this business?"

I respond that when I become all-knowing, I'll have much bigger fish to fry than voice overs! I cannot see into the fuutre, but I try.

Bob, your article is right on target. I have taught and made demos on tiny-voiced females who sound 12 years old, gut bucket guys with voices like sandpaper, cowboy voices, British voices, you name it .. .unique. That's the answer. Unique and being YOU.

But the most vital element is NOT the voice. It's marketing and selling yourself and promoting your business. Your voice? Last on the scale of importance. Learn this rule early.

And Bob, when are you going to attend one of my seminars? Please come as my honored guest.
Bob Jordan
9/14/2010 at 12:37 AM
Thanks Bob, it's a good reminder and keeps everything in perspective :)
Joe Mc Millan
9/13/2010 at 11:47 PM
I STILL will NEVER FORGET - You're the Guy who Voiced "THE BIBLE" ...
It Still Boggles my Mind.
Joe Mc Millan
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