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STANDARDS
Is Your Voice Over Coach Upfront & Honest
About Training? Check 'Best Practices' Guide
August 3, 2012

(VOXtra) - We need voice over coaches. At every level of our career. And as we progress, our industry work and contacts help us sort out which coaches will best help us get to the next level.

But newcomers, in particular, are susceptible to being swayed by misleading marketing - or downright falsehoods - about their potential for success from some that offer their services as voice over coach and/or demo producer.

World-Voices
, the organization recently formed by voice talents to educate and set industry standards, has drafted a series of "Best Practices" guides for professionals involved with the voice over industry.

VoiceOverXtra recently published WVO's Best Practices For Voice Talent and Best Practices for Producers & Others Engaging Voice Talent. Below is the final part of this series, the organization's guide for voice over coaches and demo producers.

Your comments are invited! Please feel free to COMMENT directly to this article, or to the organization at info@world-voices.org.

Best Practices For Coaches and Demo Producers  

In order to have a transparent and honest voice over education market, it is suggested that voice over coaches and demo producers follow these Best Practices, and always strive to:

1.  Honestly evaluate a student’s abilities in a fair and objective manner, without regard to monetary gain.  

2.  Be fully honest and specific with students about the prospects of securing future work in the voice over Industry and not speak in generalities.

These prospects for future work should be based on substantial time of  "on microphone”  training with the student, preferably at least an hour, and should not be based on a cursory review, i.e., hearing someone speak "on the street,” or for a few minutes in a casual setting. Ideally, a student should be exposed to a mix of phone, live (classroom and studio), web-based and self study.  

3.  Communicate students' abilities to them in a fair and objective manner based on specific performance criteria.  

4.  When being engaged
by a student, state the basis of all fees in writing, i.e., hourly, flat, etc., and fully state what the fees include and exclude. Provide a best estimate of the total cost of the student's voice over education to get them up to professional performance standards to be able to reasonably compete in the open market, PRIOR to the student engaging training services.

It is understandable that every student is different, and that every student’s pace of learning is different. Therefore, strive to communicate with the student on an ongoing basis as to their progress so that they can assess their investment of time and money.  

5.  Never rush a student into producing a professional voice over demo until both coach and student are reasonably convinced that the student is ready to compete in the professional marketplace, and not tell the student they are ready simply to get them to pay more money for coaching, or to produce a demo. 

Also, do not hinder the student’s ability to obtain a "second opinion” from another coach of their choosing as to their "readiness.”  

6. Do not accept referral fees or "kickbacks” from demo producers, talent agents, casting directors or anyone else to which student might be referred for services, unless full disclosure is made to the student regarding such referral fees, and the student consents, preferably in writing.  

7.  If student’s demo is produced
in-house, have the demo match the student's true and current abilities, meaning the demo will not be "overproduced” so that it misrepresents what the student can actually do if hired to do a professional session, or if called in by other professionals such as a casting agent or talent agent based on their demo.  

8.  Refrain at all times
from acting as a talent agent for students, explicitly or implicitly offering to procure work for students, understanding that this is an inherent conflict of interest. 

The term "talent agent” means getting paid a commission or otherwise for procuring employment for the student. This should not be interpreted as referring business contacts or potential business to students as a favor.  

9.  Refrain at all times from acting as a casting agent for students or implying that by utilizing coaching or demo services, they will be eligible to be cast in projects that the coaching or demo company may be producing in the future. 

Understand that this is an inherent conflict, and if promises or implications are held out as a benefit of utilizing a particular company, statistics will be provided as to how many of the coach's or company's students were in fact cast in projects that the company had produced prior to the student agreeing to study with the company. 

As in #8 above, referring potential business to students gratuitously and not for a fee or commission is not being discouraged by this rule.  

10. Promise to act competently
with students at all times. In other words, if teaching areas of the industry in which the coach did not actually work, i.e., audiobook, commercial, e-learning, promos, etc., this will be disclosed to the student, the coach will refrain from coaching them, or will refer the student out to a teacher that is competent in that field or area, or obtain the students' written permission to teach them in those areas.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Comments on this draft are appreciated, either as a COMMENT to this article, or in an email to World-Voices: info@world-voices.org.

For more about World-Voices Organization, please visit their website at www.World-Voices.org.

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Comments (1)
Jim
8/3/2012 at 3:43 PM
So this addresses how to act if you are a coach, but I think more important, the first question should be raised is: what qualifies someone to BE a coach?

I know of a number of people "coaching" that quite honestly have no business doing so, or being a voice talent for that matter. A quote from a Honda TV commercial I think sums that up by saying "... they'll give anyone a blog these days."

Honestly, this topic was what popped in my head when I heard that line in the spot. Until this is addressed, you will have hacks preparing and guiding more hacks. This does nothing more than cause more crap for clients to weed though to find actual talent who do this for a living, not just a hobby because someone told them they “have a good voice and should do voice over.”
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