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5 Ways to Tell if Your Voice Acting Has Hit a Glass Ceiling – and What To Do About It!

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In any creative pursuit there are ups and downs. Some days you’re filled to the brim with inspiration and can’t wait to see what awaits you, but other days you can’t get started.

While those ebbs and flows are bound to happen throughout your career, sometimes those low periods can shift from a phase you’re going through into an issue with no end in sight. If you lack ambition, and it seems like you’re doing the same thing over and over again, you may be in a rut. With all the options available to you, you don’t have to feel stuck!

The Difference Between a Rut and a Signature Voice

Lots of voice actors have a voice they are known for. Some may refer to it as their ‘money voice.’ While it may not be the voice that you like to use the most, it is the one that books you the most work.

For example, you may love reading audio books, but you keep getting booked for e-learning.

Having a signature voice isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when you’re running low on inspiration, and you aren’t happy to do the same voice over and over again, that monotony can signal it’s time for something new.   

Five Signs You’ve Hit a Glass Ceiling

Sign #1 – You’re only booking work for one type of voice.

There are so many types of work available to you, and there’s no need to limit yourself to just one thing. Even if you keep getting hired for the same thing over and over again it doesn’t mean you can’t do more.

Sign #2 – You find that for those projects, you sound the same.

Everything you do should sound different, even if it’s the same style. Words have different feelings associated with them and together with pacing, intonation and everything else that makes up a good read, there should be vast differences from one job to another. According to voice coach Tommy Griffiths, a voice actor with 30 years of experience, there are many techniques you can use to diversify your voice over.    

Sign #3 – You don’t branch out in your auditions

There is something to be said for knowing your voice and its limitations. For example, if you can’t do a British accent, don’t audition for that job. But, it’s worthwhile to think about what your voice is capable of and how you’re showcasing its range. If your current portfolio doesn’t include all the different styles, roles and accents you’re capable of, put yourself out there and start auditioning to round out your experience; then, when you’re able, update your demos.

Sign #4 – There’s no diversity in your demos.

With so many kinds of demos you could record, having more than one only makes sense. You should have one to show off the different types of voices you’re capable of. If you’re looking to enhance your Voices.com profile, adding demos with accurate keywords is a great idea to help clients learn what you can offer. If you aren’t displaying what you’re capable of, no one is going to know your abilities.  

Sign #5 – You haven’t continued to invest in your skills

With so many resources, both paid and free, you can always be changing and improving. Whether you choose to read up on a subject that interests you or try a new coach, an outside perspective can be a breath of fresh air. Getting new tips and tools can be vital to growing and developing your voice acting career.   

There Are Many Ways You Can Break Out of Your Voice Acting Rut

If you’re auditioning on an online platform like Voices.com, even just auditioning for something new could break the monotony.

It doesn’t have to be a crazy cartoon voice, it could just a be a different type of voice over – for a commercial, IVR, or audio books. There are so many ways the human voice can be used to tell stories, inspire, and inform. You don’t have to limit yourself.  

Coaches Can Give You A Different Opinion

If you’re looking to go more in-depth than experimenting on your own, a voice coach could provide you with some new insight.

Perhaps you have an established relationship with someone and it could be as simple as letting them know you’d like to explore using your voice in a different application. On the other hand, it may be a good idea to try reaching out to a new coach for a perspective you’ve never heard before.

Exploring New Characters in Improv

Improv can be a great way to discover a new character while having a little fun. It gives you the opportunity to be safe and supported while trying something else on for size. It can also help you remember the unlimited creativity that is within you and give you inspiration moving forward to approach your work in a different way.  

Use Caution When Trying New Voices

A word of advice when it comes to trying new voices – experimenting is good, but don’t audition for any role where you use a voice that causes you pain. Bogart-Bacall Syndrome is a real concern if you make a habit of speaking too low. There are both long and short term consequences for speaking in a way that is outside of your natural register, or one that makes your instrument feel uncomfortable.  

You Can Break Out of Your Patterns

Whether it’s working with someone new, trying a new approach, or just putting yourself out there more, there are plenty of options for breaking down barriers and finding a different angle. If you’re due for a change, try something new – big or small, it could make all the difference!

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  • Robin Rowan
    January 31, 2008, 10:21 am

    Good morning!
    It’s absolutely vital to know where your strengths lie so that you DON’T go after jobs that are not right for you, wasting the client’s AND your time. Some days my voice just stays in the lower register, so I skip all “young adult” auditions. Some days I find it is harder to stay in my lower register, and am more likely to try a younger sound. BUT! I’ve gotten as far as recording an entire audition, then deciding it is too much of a stretch and deleting it. And, amazingly enough, I’m hired fairly often for a British accent, so I continue to work on making that sound as authentic as possible.
    My “narrator” voice is hired for e-training, travel pieces, and as the “Voice of God” for large conventions and awards ceremonies. That’s my comfort area, but I keep looking for ways to break out of it. I was recently hired by Highlights magazine to read stories for an online edition, by a film production company to be a British warrior from the 25th century for an animated film, by an indie film company to play the role of a buxom babe in a sci-fi flick whose mate is turning into an alien.
    So absolutely, go ahead and try something outside your comfort zone. But listen with a much more critical ear, and try to imagine your audition against folks who do that type of v.o. all the time. It will make you a better voice talent!

  • David Rodwell
    January 31, 2008, 2:42 pm

    I love Robin’s comments. I have gotten stuck doing On Line Game Training Scripts. They want a young hip kid, telling the other Gamers how to kill more Wart Hogs than anyone else. I am grateful for the work but long to expand my Vocal Range and capabilities.
    I would love to see some “For Pay” online or teleconference training. Anything would help that gets us better trained. Get 100 people on a call at $25 a piece for an hour… that would entice most trainers.