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Do you need a voice over coach?

In theory, it can be helpful to connect with a good voice over coach, to have a mentor in the industry. We're cautioning you to check your needs and priorities before you make the commitment.

Do you need a voice over coach? The short answer is: maybe. Why? Because it depends on you, your experience, your skill-set, as well as your commitment to both your craft and your voice over career. Some voice actors are adamant that voice coaches are superfluous, while others contend coaches either made – or saved – their careers. 

It follows by implication that one learns by following the example of others, and then applying and adapting what one learns to one’s own unique character and vocal style of presentation.  More than anything else as a voice actor, you need to learn to interpret a client’s brief and a script. You need to be able to follow direction. You need to be able to read without sounding like you’re reading and you need to be able to voice act without sounding like you’re voice acting. 

Can a coach teach you that?

Only you can answer that question. 

Let’s start with the presumption that you’re a relative newbie. You’ve got good recording gear and a decent recording space. You’ve joined several online voice casting sites like Voice123 and you’ve landed a couple of jobs – enough to excite you to the point that you feel it’s time to level-up your expertise so you can advance your burgeoning voice over career. Even the legends of the industry had to start somewhere, right?

Set proper expectations with voice over coaching

In theory, a good voice over coach will help you figure out where exactly you fit in the industry, and then help equip you with the right training to take on what is becoming an evermore competitive industry.

Your expectations are important.

A coach can’t land you gigs, for example. Read that again: a coach can’t land you gigs. Why the emphasis? Because the online environment is awash with charlatans. Seriously. 

By the same token, there are some fantastic voice coaches out there too, but finding a voice over coach isn’t as simple as googling ‘how to find a voice over coach’. You’ll have to do your research thoroughly. You’ll have to browse online groups and forums and determine what your specific requirements are, who the reputable coaches are, and what you’d like to gain from them.

If you’re not specific with what you need from coaching, the coaching may seem generic and lackluster – although a good coach will always find some way of injecting value into a session. In any case, it’s good to take some time and reflect on why you need coaching.

Every good coach will more or less offer the same kind of services, including:

  • Teaching voice over skills like proper diction, breathing and pronunciation
  • Providing in-depth feedback on your voice acting
  • Teaching how to read a script
  • Helping you grow your VO entrepreneurship, and how to market yourself
  • Teaching you the industry’s lingo, and so on.

Pick a reputable voice over coach with the right experience

It’s great that there are so many prominent coaches out there with inspiring résumés. But just because they have a sparkling résumé doesn’t mean they’re a good coach for you.

You need to pick a voice over coach who has experience in the genres you enjoy working in, or hope to work in. You’ll simply get more value out of your coaching sessions that way. There are many, many different genres and more often than not, it’s best to specialize in those you perform well in rather than trying to be a jack-of-all-trades. Become a master of some, not a master of none by trying to be a master of all!

Voice over sample scripts for coaching sessions

When you combine practise voice over scripts and the professional ear of a reputable voice over coach, you’re likely to learn a great deal. It’s almost like a live-directed voice over session, which is something you’ll have to start preparing for and accommodating as you progress in your voice over career.

You need to pick a voice over coach who has experience in the genres you enjoy working in, or hope to work in. You’ll simply get more value out of your coaching sessions that way. Click To Tweet

When you book a coaching session, chances are you’ll also be reading a script, and the coach will suggest how you can improve your read. It makes sense then, to find a script that’s right for you so you can work with your coach in those genres you’re comfortable with.

So, do you need a voice over coach?

Voice actor and mentor Joshua Alexander concurs. If you’ve signed up with a good coach because you need a professional’s audit of your voice over business, that’s what you’ll get.

“You have to look at the career of the coach that you’re considering working with, because ultimately their viewpoint and their knowledge of the industry is skewed based on their personal experience,” says voice actor and coach, Gabrielle Nistico. “If you want to be an animation actor, then going to someone who’s had a career in audio books won’t be beneficial for you in the long run, because it’s a different area.”

Like we’ve said before: do your research – and do it before you leap in and spend thousands of dollars.

That said, not everyone can access coaching simply because good coaches are expensive. That doesn’t mean voice actor newbies can’t find support, however.

Discord is a popular group-chatting app (originally meant for gaming communities) that fosters communities of all types. So it’s no surprise there’s a voice acting discord with thousands of members. Participating in such a community can be a good way to wrap your head around the industry, and see how voice acting peers manage their careers.

Beyond that, it’s going to be crucial to study the industry if you can’t get coaching. Read books, learn about other voice actors’ experiences, understand it’s a business, browse the voice acting reddit, and ask your friendly neighborhood voice actor. 

Whatever it takes, it’ll be really helpful if you make an effort to learn about the voice acting experience – not just behind the mic – but everything that happens beyond it.

To get the most out of a coaching session, choose a couple of different ones so you can start extending your versatility, vocal reach, and confidence. On the voice over guide’s voice over resources page, we have a section dedicated to voice over sample scripts, compiled from our friends and partners’ sites.

Ultimately, practise, practise, practise. And then practise some more. You’ll find yourself progressing from relative newbie to industry professional sooner than you might think if you invest time and effort in your craft and your skill-set, if you set the right expectations, and if you commit to becoming the true professional voice actor you can be – with or without a coach.

Taking this post full circle, your success depends on you.