Who’s packing your parachute is a question we should all be able to answer with confidence. To be successful in offering premiere voice service to our clients we all need people that provide for us. People that believe in us. People that support us. Take pride in building us up. And in a myriad of ways – vocal, physical, mental, spiritual, technical, social, PR, and many more.
Becoming qualified to pack a parachute takes a particular person. They’ve passed requirements, taken classes, been reviewed, and given much more of themselves than they’ve received in return. Remember, our parachutes have to be reliable, consistent, deploy at the proper time, without snares, tangles, or twists. At the end of the day, we need to be able to maneuver our voice over artist careers without damaging our reputation or our voice by putting ourselves in the hands of people we trust.
Let’s take a look at a few parachute packers and unpack the numerous responsibilities they maintain on our behalf.
Talent managers are unique per person. You have to find someone that shares your vision and goals. And as a result, they are an extension of you and are most times the first person a company will see when being introduced to your brand. A manager may set up meetings, field prospects, help determine the best agent and facilitate an introduction to an agent, advise on coaching, publicize, promote to help book and get auditions, develop brand, craft copyrighting, monitor website presence, create ad strategy, set budget goals, establish professional relationships, answer our endless questions, and I could go on and on. Most of these responsibilities are daily tasks. Not just for one person but many clients. All of whom are treated as special and unique.
Voiceover coaches are the people who sometimes tell you what you don’t want to hear. Right?! I can hear them in my sleep, can’t you? ‘Give me the read with a different tone?’ ‘In other words, humanize the copy with non-speech sounds.’ ‘Now with less inflection, make it more conversational, and a bit warmer?’ ‘Above all, let’s try that again with more acting and less reading.’ ‘A tongue-twister three times as fast is doable.’ (I dare you to try it!) Remember, your vocal coach may push through your resistance to find a vocal sound you both will enjoy. And more than anything, providing a comfortable atmosphere to make sure you’re enjoying the coaching. It is said, we retain more when we are happy learners!
Our talent agents also spend a lot of their time sending and answering emails, in addition to making and receiving phone calls. They decipher breakdowns to determine where we fit, arrange auditions, resolve any conflict of interest, provide auditions we may not be able to get on our own, liaison to the union representative, negotiate monies and contracts, all in hopes of us booking the job. However, these amazing souls are some of the fasting moving people I’ve ever seen in the industry. On one of my visits to the office, I was astonished how many calls came through, how many internal conversations were going on at the same time, and everyone understood each other while replying to emails. Ha!
As a professional voiceover actor, we know these are not the only parachute packers by far. What about the audio guru who designs your premium sound? Or the local voiceover studio that offers affordable classes that you can attend in person or online, for instance. And don’t forget your union that provides free resources and classes. Promo producer/directors who determine the best copy to represent you, and direct your session with valuable information that keeps you booking. What about your family and friends and neighbors who listen to you practice, practice, practice as you tell them over, and over again you booked the job? Then there’s a casting director who keeps you in their front pocket. Repeat clients. Blogs. Podcasts. Websites. And please don’t forget the hearts and likes that help you go viral so you can be discovered. #parachutepackers
So, what have we done to appreciate those who packed our parachute? Have we congratulated them, or asked how we can help, or offered a simple hello when we are not asking for anything in return. Everyone appreciates a smile or words of encouragement. One thing I know, being prepared is one of the highest accolades we can give our parachute team. Preparing ourselves, doing on time what they ask of us, practicing when we don’t feel like it, and presenting our best when the opportunity unveils itself is the most significant way to show appreciation and say thank you!
I used to be a golfer and learned there is a sweet spot on the ball. When opportunity meets preparedness, you can make a hole-in-one. That was a time when I had practiced a ridiculous amount of hours, and the green and the wind were at my advantage. That applies to life as well. We have to strive to be our best selves. Challenge and demand our best selves. Focus. Forget the 10K hours to master your craft. Innovation is key. Reinvent yourself and be ready when your time comes.
As voiceover talent, there is so much more to our existence than talking into a microphone. We have a to-do list that challenges the savviest entrepreneur. We have to (not in any order):
• Be true to our brand
• Engage with our customers
• Keep an eye on social media feeds
• Like posts
• Comment on posts
• Post our posts
• Include relevant hashtags
• Stay active in online social groups
• Respect time and family
• Study, study, study
• Attend a VO class
• Be in tune with our management
• Prepare for our coaching session
• Bring our A-game to our agent
• Build social content
• Update our demos
• Listen to our audio guru
• Examine our analytics
• Connect with new clients
• Create and refine our marketing tools
• Adjust our goals
• Act conversational
• Have a trusted friend and colleague in VO
• Trust ourselves
• Practice and preach ‘Failure is Not an Option’
• Remain committed
• Stay patient
• Embrace change
Here is the key to all of this… I recently had a conversation with Dan Hurst. What a great person and an amazing voice actor! I discovered his Voice Talent’s Prayer online. He also recognizes those who packed our parachute don’t get enough credit or appreciation in this business. Mr. Hurst was so very kind to allow me to quote him in this very personal prayer that we can all pray and apply to our daily lives.
A VOICE TALENT’S PRAYER
Thank you for giving me the unique and privileged opportunity to be in the voiceover business. Not too many people can say that they absolutely love what they do, but I can!
I’m grateful for clients who must be the absolute best in the world. Well, except for that one guy that totally scammed me, but that’s between You and him now. Please bless my clients! Make their efforts and hard work completely successful. Overwhelm them with the rewards of a job well done.
And thank you for the fellow voice talents You’ve put in my life. You’ve made me better by knowing them, and I am inspired, motivated, and challenged by each of them.
Lord, there are some folks who don’t get enough credit or appreciation in this business: the engineers, and producers, and writers, and translators that make magic out of my often inane and inadequate performance. Please bless them in a special way!
But most of all, thank You for a wife and kids that put up with my idiosyncrasies and weirdness. You’ve given them great patience and a high tolerance to my obsession. I know it’s not right to stay up until 3 am working on a silly audition that I have a 1 in a 1000 chance of getting, but how cool is it that I can!?!?!
I really only have one thing to ask for. Would it be OK if I kept doing this? I mean, would You connect me with the right people so that I can keep doing this for a long time? That would be awesome!
So, I just wanted to say THANKS! I know I don’t deserve it, but WOW, You’ve been good to me! I am of all people most fortunate, and I am deeply, deeply grateful.
A Voice Talent’s Prayer is used with permission from the author Daniel Eduardo Hurst. https://www.danhurst.com/
Hurst, D.E. (2010). A Voice Talent’s Prayer. Retrieved from http://www.voiceoveruniverse.com/