Steven Lowell explains 4 voiceover skills necessary for the future of working online as a voice actor…beyond choosing microphones and soundproofing
Admittedly, I had a blast doing this today, while at the same time I had no idea that I was subscribed to so many things since I began using the Internet more than 15 years ago. Going through the list of 337 subscriptions was like looking through a photo album. Each click was preceded with a smile and thought of, “Oh, I remember that!”. I actually reviewed all those things I subscribed to as an online “newb”.
Yet, as I looked through the awards page, I saw data that made me realize, “The history of working online is more than just having a home studio and copy reading skills.” We all must dig deep to learn more because what we read is not always fact. The image above based on data shared by their company for “The Most Popular Subscriptions”, reminded me “all we feel online is not all that happens:
4 Skills Necessary for the Future of Working Online as a Voice Actor
See if you agree!
4. Political Science
Oh yes. If you cannot tell, this necessity is in place right now for your Facebook pages. How many times have you prefaced a comment on your Facebook page with a defensive statement such as, “Not that I see anything wrong with this, but…” What happens when your career grows, and content is produced everyday about you that cannot control as you are judged, not only by your copy reading skills, but by the very businesses you choose to work with? When you choose to work with global businesses, will you have the social skills to not offend everyone you come in contact with, thus costing you work?
3. Computer Science, programming, coding
I do believe the future of working online creates a new stage to which performers must adapt: A computer screen. Is the idea so bizarre? Performers started out on a stage, then adapted to radio, film, and television; all “screens”. If a voice actor makes their career working online, the demand will be from their audience that they are found online. I also see a familiar parallel between “Nielsen Ratings” and “Google Search Algorithms”, but that’s another blog.
But there is a problem: The lowest average salary of a web developer (in the US) is $62,500. Voice actors are infamous for their resourceful behavior. If becoming a web developer is the new age of “expressing creativity”, they will do it. I have often heard people say that web developers are not “artists”. I disagree. It is another form of expression and the first amazing professional voice actor to fully combine that skill with the skills of developing a website from start to finish, almost like a ‘walking IT team’ will have the ability to stay employed and influence change.
Note: I know some out there can already “code”. I am talking about “tech people” who are aware changing trends in technology and web businesses.
2. Data AnalysisData analysis is not “doing the math”. Math is easy, if you decide, “If only I had ten more, I could afford to try this ten times.” Data analysis means having the ability to dig deeper into what is really happening when they see data, based on more explanatory data. This involves measuring, researching life-cycles, watching the numbers, and paying attention to the signals that indicate change is about to happen. It is a science that is forever changing and when you dig in, you find out amazing things about people. Those who can visualize where data will lead can truly be called experts for their uncanny ability to predict the future.
What data can also teach us is a way for voice talent to make proactive decisions that help their industry, instead of just following what seems to be the hot button topic of the week. This skill is also important because future voice talent will be competing with companies online seeking to create technology that may replace their skills. For example: A voice talent who is aware of customer satisfaction by using a professional voice over an automated voice will have more data “ammunition” to show businesses numbers, as proof hiring professionals is the wiser choice. I have been an artist in a business environment and know the frustration of understanding what people will do, but having no numbers to prove it. These “numbers”, although hated, can do wonders to prove an emotional viewpoint.
On the topic of numbers, for example, if you look at the image above you see LinkedIn placed fourth in subscriptions, yet when I did surveys to voice talent on casting sites, I found LinkedIn was the most popular social media tool for reaching people in the voiceover industry.
1. Writing and Public Speaking or Presentation Skills
It shocked me to find out that the #1 reason 8 out of 10 small businesses fail is because the business is not really in touch with customers through deep dialogue (according to a 2013 survey by Forbes). Call that what you will, but I see it as, “fear of talking about what you believe in, or not even being able to write about it”. Writing is a form of talking, and even the worst public speaker, if diligent enough, will never leave you alone until the point has been made. Presenting new ideas is rough because it leaves a person as a target of ridicule or judgement. After a while, that can feel exhausting.
Back in 2003, I was helping a sports agent who represented handicapped tennis players, and the one thing I remember each time this agent grew teary-eyed in front of TV network executives about how important his mission was to him, each executive said, “You seem to have no problem presenting your story over and over again, and we have heard from others how much you care. We needed to know if that was real or not.”
That statement alone taught me the importance of presentation skills, although my writing ability and public speaking comes from a Liberal Arts degree. These skills truly served me very little until the last few years, dictating there is a future for these skills now and for other voice actors.
Leaving this with one statement:
Don’t be afraid to learn something new because life is forever changing, and staying competitive means being able to adapt to these changes. You truly never know until you know better.