Woman using a paint rollerIf you’re like me, you might enjoy watching home renovation shows because you like to see the before, the during and after. Observing a property go from one stage of development to another can be exciting and rewarding.

While you aren’t personally involved in the task, you may feel as though you’ve accomplished something just by watching it, right?
After viewing programs of this nature, it is easy to feel inspired and live vicariously through the successes and achievements of others without doing a thing yourself and therefore not making an inch of progress in your own household projects.
Similarly, if you are studying voice over or watching other professionals do their work in the booth, it’s easy to feel as though you are also moving forward by watching them work or improve… this is where we begin.

Thomas Alva Edison Had (and still has) a Point

The great American inventor Thomas A. Edison was famously quoted as saying “Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration,” followed by the lesser known “Accordingly, a ‘genius’ is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework.”

I feel that this very same quote can be applied to voice over and voice acting. Voice acting is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Aren’t the most practical strides made when behind the microphone?

Plopping down on the couch to watch a YouTube video of Kevin Conroy in session being directed by Andrea Romano won’t suddenly make your Batman voice or interpretation any better. Watching what Conroy does, studying his choices, interpreting them and rehearsing those choices on your own as the caped crusader will.
The doing itself is necessary to achieving a goal or progressing. If you aren’t ‘doing’ voice over or voice acting, how can you expect to master the art or further improve your skills?

Fill Your Head With Knowledge and Apply It

This article comes at a timely interval and it struck me that I should write this as a means of encouragement to those who are attending industry conferences and workshops designed to inspire and educate.
These events can lend themselves to a lot of sitting, listening, jotting down of notes, socialization and comparatively less ‘doing.’

Remember what Edison said? 1% Inspiration, 99% Perspiration!
Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of hoarding educational nuggets of wisdom to be drawn upon for another day. Even the most inspiring of moments can slowly evaporate if not seized upon in a timely manner.

Take notes, absorb what you’re hearing and put what you took from each session into practice as soon as you can! Do this and you’ll get the most you can out of educational experiences such as conferences, workshops, books and teleseminars.

Give Yourself “Homework”

If a genius is only a talented person who achieves that status by doing their homework, surely we are surrounded by geniuses in this industry!
When you’re trying to figure out what homework means for you voice over wise, consider the following:
๏ Understand your instrument
๏ Respect your instrument
๏ Warm up your voice
๏ Keep your cold reading skills sharp
๏ Exercise the range of your voice daily
๏ Listen to your voice
๏ Be aware of what’s going on in the industry
๏ Train on your own, among peers or with a coach
๏ Challenge yourself
๏ Set attainable goals

Stepping Up to the Mic

Time for a little analogy.
What good to a team is a pitcher who spends his time idling in the bullpen and twiddling his thumbs? When called upon, he is rusty and his performance is lackluster.
Conversely, a pitcher who spends his time wisely when off the field will be prepared, sure of himself and is able to step in at a moment’s notice.

In the same way, a voice over artist who exercises his or her instrument and improves their skills on a daily basis is ready to step up to the mic with confidence at the time of need.

How Often Do You Work on Your Craft?

Do you have anything to add to what has been shared?
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Best wishes,
©iStockphoto.com/Mandy Godbehear


  1. I begin everyday by warming up and performing vocal exercises in my shower. The power of water on the human voice in underestimated both is straight hydration by drinking and by the the steaming process in the shower. It pulls the wrinkles right out of the folds in your vocal apparatus. If you have ever visited an ENT physician and they have camera equipment take a close look at your larynx while you are trying to sing various notes. When you sing a high ‘eeeh” note your chords are vibrating back and forth over 300 times per second burning off litres of water over a short period of time. So sing in the shower to tune your voice it also makes you happier for the day.

  2. Hi, Stephanie.
    I’m blessed to be able to do this nearly every day, and I can’t imagine how rusty I would be without daily work. I recommend to my fellow voiceoverists to record yourself as much as possible, even when you’re not busy with jobs or auditions. Play back today’s practice several days from now and try to be objective. Work. Get critiques from others. Repeat.
    I have a question about your “cold reading” bullet-point, Stephanie. I realize that sometimes it’s necessary, but I feel that our job is to communicate ideas and feelings, and we’ll usually need to delve into the script before we read it, if we’re going to do that in a convincing way.
    If I do a lot of cold reading, won’t I just be reinforcing my “usual pattern” and creating ruts for myself?

  3. Hi Dan,
    Thanks for sharing!
    With regard to cold reading skills, it’s important to be able to read something with very little preparation in certain instances such as live announcing. Certainly put some time into the thinking behind the read, but in those cases, talent need to make choices faster and with less prep time.
    I agree with you that a rehearsed voice over is wonderful and preferred in most cases.
    The exceptions are instances where you are handed copy that you haven’t seen before and need to run with it. This happens at radio stations, in studios when recording VO for video games, some animated projects and impromptu audition opportunities. Maybe you are called to audition and are handed copy that you’ve never seen before with only a minute or two to review it. Perhaps you are called to fill in for someone else at a moment’s notice who has already booked the gig. The client needs to VO asap and you’ve been given the job that needed to be done yesterday! This happens too and sometimes the biggest breaks come from it. Don LaFontaine’s voice over career began that way (filling in for someone who didn’t show up for their session), granted he was familiar with the copy beforehand.
    Would doing a few cold reads a day end up getting you in a rut? I don’t think so. What you could do is spice the variation up a bit so that you are doing 3 completely different reads, perhaps representative of commercial, narration, and character reads. Challenge yourself each day with something new and there will be fewer instances that may result in ruts 🙂
    Does that help?
    Best wishes,

  4. A different formula VO:
    99 % preparation
    1 % recitation
    All that days we spend tuning our instrument and getting our work is preparation for the wonderful hours we share in the booth.

  5. My voice is always low and raspy in the morning….so I save all the “hinges of hell” stuff for then. But you’re right, a good shower will loosen it right up.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here