Are you a Voiceover Expert?
We are all experts in communication. In around 350,000 years of modern human development, we have become highly skilled communicators – and have an extensive set of tools to use. We are adept at many of them and have an astonishing capacity for communication subtlety.
We have so many ways to communicate, consciously or subconsciously.
We spend our lives sending out signals of one form or another and receiving them, often through a filter, our filter of interpretation.
Your chosen field of Voiceover puts you in the specialist role Voice Expert or Voiceover Expert. Often, by the time it reaches the ear of the listener, your voice is reduced to a vibrating paper cone. With most of the non-verbal signal being removed, we have to try even harder to focus the signal and achieve the desired effect. I say ‘most’, because facets of your voice are non-verbal; anything other than the words themselves, so you still have a wealth of tools at your disposal:
So you are a Professional Voiceover but to have a sustainable and developing career in any business you need to be a Professional Communicator. At all times.
Success in business demands that you are a champion of influence, a brilliant and empathetic listener and somebody who, when it comes down to it, people want to communicate with.
As someone so used to ‘speaking’ for a living, it is worth checking whether you are too often in ‘broadcast’ mode when you should instead be listening. Just listening.
It is my belief that in business, the most powerful tool you have is not your voice but your ability to truly listen. The powerful validating effect this has upon your communication partner (or potential new client) cannot be underestimated. So, become the microphone, not the speaker. Stop talking. Listen, evaluate and adapt.
This is a tentative metaphor but imagine in your ‘microphone state’, instead of truly listening, you, as so many people commonly do, sabotage the conversation. In a sense, you become the ‘squealing feedback’. It’s a horrid sound that sets teeth on edge and this approach to communication can damage relationships before they have even really formed.
Another thing to check is your ASSUMPTIONS. When on the receiving end of communication, this can often make us trample on someone’s line of thought as we cleverly finish their sentence for them. We often do this perhaps, because we think if it as time-saving “well I knew what they were going to say!”. Did you? Are you a mind-reader? Another risk with assumptions is that you communicate making assumptions of knowledge, understanding, relevance or even interest.
SIGNAL TO NOISE RATIO
Perhaps the most over-bearing assumption we make is that others like to be communicated with/to in the same or similar way to us. To be the truly well-rounded Expert Communicator it is worth considering this at all times. Upon first meeting with a new client for example (even if virtually by electronic means) balance your communication between ‘heart’ and ‘mind’ (or Pathos and Logos if you fancy a bit of Aristotle). If you misjudge your communication, channeling only through your preferred method and style, this may just be noise to the listener. Noise interfering with the desired signal. So, for example, by all means communicate facts and figures, so long as you balance it with a human element. What do you want them to think, to feel and to do as a result of your purposeful communication? Once the relationship develops you can adapt the communication as you come to understand their preference.
Assumptive behavior can lead to ‘the curse of the expert’. As a VO communicating with a new client, be careful that you don’t talk in too many technical or VO specific terms. Often people are too polite to say they haven’t understood. Become the microphone again and seek to understand them, their level of understanding and their needs. Ultimately, to influence a client, know what is important to them.
Guy Michaels has worked in Corporate Voiceover for over 20 years and is the driving force behind Voiceover Kickstart. He produces highly regarded ► Voiceover Demos and runs a series of online training programmes for artists of all levels.